Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York


Marie Tome

43rd interview
Interviewee: Marie Tome
Interviewer: Dr. Mark Naison
No Date of Interview
Summarized by Christian Rivera

Marie Tome, a reverend of the Bright Temple AME church in the Bronx, was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. She grew up in a segregated South Carolina. Her father, a brick mason, got her a job in the country part of Chelmstead. She was afraid of the country because they would hang people on trees.
After finishing school, she came to the Bronx in 1932 to live with her grandmother in 3rd avenue. In the predominately African American neighborhood, people would look out for one another. Tome’s grandmother was a domestic worker in the Bronx Slave market. She earned 25 cents an hour by cleaning people’s homes. Her grandmother lived on 170th street and 3rd avenue between 170th street and St. Paul’s place. The apartments were cold water flats, but Tome still preferred the coldwater flats to living in the south.
In the middle of the depression, Marie joined the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. At the garment industry, a garment worker told her to get the lump in her breast checked out. The checkup saved her life. Marie had a mastectomy in 1953 and had to leave the garment district. After the garment district, Marie took a city exam and worked in the department of hospitals. She worked as a water clerk and learned to drive a water car. In addition to leaving the garment workers union, she studied at the Bible institute for 10 years to become a minister. She became the first woman minister in her church. As a minister, she counseled people with drug problems, mentored young kids and counseled female prisoners in Falhallow.
Tome’s grandmother was one of the AME church in the Bronx’s founders. The church’s current location is Faile street and Lafayette. The church contained four to five choirs, gospel music, spiritual hymns, drums, guitars, pipe organs, and electric organs.

To the Researchers: Good source on migration from the American South to the North. Further, a good source about the garment industry in New York.

Keyword: Charleston, South Carolina. Discrimination. Segregation. Bronx Slave Market. Depression. International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Breast Cancer (Mastectomy) Belleview, department of hospitals, Bright Temple AME Church, reverend, 170th street And 3rd avenue, Coldwater flats, sewing, ministry, Bible Institute, Thessalonia Baptist Church, gospel, old spirituals hymns, drums, guitars, pipe organs, electric guitars.


© 2009 Bronx African-American History Project at Fordham University

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