Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Shirley Fearon


Shirley Fearon

Interviewee: Shirley Fearon
Interviewer: Dr. Brian Purnell
Date of Interview: May 15, 2007
Summarized by Alice Stryker

Shirley Fearon was born on July 8, 1945 in Harlem. Her parents met in Harlem and then moved to the South Bronx on Brook Avenue. Shortly after she was born, her parents split up and she and her mother moved to Williamsbridge with her grandparents. This neighborhood was mostly Italian, but all the children got along well. Her grandparents lived in a private home. She and her family attended New Bedford Church, which is part of St. Luke’s. This church was predominately black, with both people from the Caribbean and the South.
She attended grade school at PS 113 and middle school at P.S 78. She really enjoyed school and had good experiences with many of her teachers. Although neither one of her grandparents, nor her mother, had good educations, they all stressed its importance to Shirley.
When she graduated high school, she did not have enough money to go to college. However, she got a job and was able to save enough money to enroll in the spring semester at Long Island University. That quickly became too expensive and she transferred to Hunter College. She had to leave college though when she got married and had her son. When she re-enrolled at Hunter, she began working on an Elementary Education degree. Upon graduating, she became a teacher in the Bronx at P.S. 64. When she initially started teaching, she experienced a lot of racism.
In her many years of teaching, she has seen numerous changes in the school system. One of the reasons she credits for the decline in the New York City public schools is a lessening of parental involvement. She believes that if parents do not encourage and get involved in their children’s education, the child will not want to learn and therefore be a poor student and possibly a nuisance in the class.
She began to notice more and more drugs popping up in her neighborhood and among friends in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  
Although her grandfather was involved with the NAACP, and got her involved with picketing, politics was not a frequent topic of conversation at her house. She did get involved with the NAACP in 1988, when she came to the realization she needed to get involved with her community. She also was involved with the Northeast Bronx Democratic Club with Al Tuitt. One of the main projects this branch tackles is voter registration. The group also sets up Health Fairs for the community. The group is also involved with other organizations in the community, like the National Council of Negro Women.

Key Words: Harlem, South Bronx, Brook Avenue, Williamsbridge, Evander, New Bedford Church, St. Luke’s Church, P.S. 113, P.S 78, Long Island University, Hunter College, NAACP, PS 64, Drugs, Vietnam, Al Tuitt, Northeast Bronx Democratic Club, voter registration, Health Fairs, P.S. 87, Laura Rodan National Council of Negro Women,


© 2009 Bronx African-American History Project at Fordham University

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