Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Upcoming Events:

Please join us for a conference commemorating the 10th anniversary of Fordham’s Bronx African American History Project. Featuring presentations from leading historians, journalists, educators, and community organizers, the symposium will showcase research and activism related to and emanating from the Bronx African American History Project.we will end the day with a live concert featuring renowned bronx musicians.

BAAHP 10th Anniversary Conference

A conference commemorating the Bronx African American History Project’s 10th Anniversary

Saturday, 6 April 2013.  8:30 am-5:15 pm

Keating 1, Lecture Hall, Fordham University, 441 E. Fordham Rd., Bronx, NY

Participants include:

Joan Morgan, author of When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: My Life as a Hip Hop Feminist, award-winning journalist and cultural critic

Noel Wolfe, Ph.D. candidate, Fordham University

Mamadou Niang, Managing Director, NextMedia

Nancy Biberman, founder and president, WHEDco.

Sheikh Moussa Drammeh, founder, African Rapid Relief Mobilization

Natasha Lightfoot, assistant professor of history, Columbia University

With remarks from special and honored guests:

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President, Fordham University
Helen D. Foster, Council Member, District 16, Bronx, NY.

Admission is free and open to the public.

RSVP is required.

To RSVP visit:

Sponsors: The New York City Council, The Bronx Music Heritage Center/WHEDco.

For more information, contact Bronx African American History Project Graduate Assistant,
Stephanie De Paola at

BAAHP 10th Anniversary Concert & Film Screening 

A live concert and film screening commemorating the Bronx African American History Project’s 10th Anniversary

Saturday, 6 April 2013.  5:30 pm-12:00 am

McGinley Student Center, Fordham University, 441 E. Fordham Rd., Bronx, NY

Please join us for musical performances commemorating the 10th anniversary of Fordham's Bronx African American History Project. National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, Jimmy Owens and his band will perform the original composition, "Bronx Suite." The evening will also include a documentary film screening, live hip hop performances, and a DJ dance party!

Other featured performances include:

At 5:30 pm, "I love the Bronx: The Musical Life of Dr. Valerie Capers," a rough-cut documentary about the acclaimed Bronx jazz pianist, directed by Dawn Russell.

Bronx hip hop artists, Circa 95 and Rebel Diaz

DJ Illinoiz and DJ Charlie Hustle

Sponsors: Travis Viola and the Viola Family, The New York City Council, the Bronx Music Heritage Center/WHEDco., STEP/CSTEP of Fordham University

Admission is free and open to the public.

RSVP is required.

To RSVP visit:

For more information, contact Dr. Mark Naison at


BAAHP 10th Anniversary Conference
Keating 1st Lecture Hall, Fordham University, 441 E. Fordham Rd., Bronx, NY
April 6, 2013
8:30-5:15 pm

8:30am Breakfast

9:00 Welcome

9:05 Welcome from Father McShane, S.J., President, Fordham University; Helen D. Foster, Council Member, Bronx NY

9:30-10:15 Joan Morgan keynote speech
10:15-10:30 Discussion

10:30-11:15 Panel #1 Women in Hip Hop
Speakers: Imani K. Johnson, Elizabeth Mendez Berry, Oneka LaBennett
11:15-11:30 Discussion

11:30-Noon Noel Wolfe "Uncovering Community Activism Against Crack: Using the BAAHP's Archival Document Collections and Oral Histories."

12:15-1:00 Lunch

1:00- 1:15 Remarks by Dean Michael Latham, Dean of Fordham College

1:00-2:00 Panel #2 African Immigration
Speakers: Mamadou Niang, Omar Jawo, Ramatu Ahmed, Benjamin Hayford
2:00-2:15 Discussion

2:15-3:45 Panel #3 Community Organizing in the Bronx
Speakers: Sheikh Moussa Drammeh, Rebel Diaz, Nancy Biberman, Morgan Powell, Kojo Ampah Sahara
3:45-4:00 Discussion

4:00-4:30 Natasha Lightfoot

5:15 Break for dinner

Presenter Bios:

Ramatu Ahmed is the founder of the African Life Center, which serves New York’s African community. She played a key role in the establishment of the Medina clinic at Harlem Hospital for the underserved Muslim/African community. Ramatu is an active community leader and is passionate about promoting the fundamental rights of women and children. Through her work, she seeks to improve social and health services for immigrants and to ensure a better future for younger generations. She was nominated to serve as a member of the Men’s Health Initiative Advisory Board of the New York University School of Medicine. This position gives her the opportunity to draw attention to the health needs of the African community. She is also a community educator with the NYU School of Medicine’s cancer project for Moslem women dubbed ‘MARHABA’ (Medical Research on Moslem Americans Reaching for Health and Building Alliance).

She is the former Deputy Executive Secretary General of the Ghanaian Association in New York and former board member of the National Council of Women of the United States  (ECOSOC accredited to the UN). She is currently a member of the advisory board of the Council of People Organization (COPO) and community board four in the Bronx. Her affiliation with these organizations has provided her with a strong cross-cultural experience.

Elizabeth Méndez Berry is an award-winning journalist who writes about culture, gender, criminal justiceand politics. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Vibe, Latina, the Nation and Time. "Love Hurts," her landmark investigative article on domestic violence in the hip hop industry, won ASCAP's 2006 Deems Taylor award for music reporting. The article was also included in Da Capo's best music writing anthology, as was her essay on Jay-Z's premature retirement, "The Last Hustle." In 2008, she won the Columbia Journalism School's Hechinger award for best education coverage for her chronicle of the death of a Bronx high school. In his book “Decoded,” Jay-Z cited one of her critical essays as inspiring his lines “I’m like Che Guevara with bling on, I'm complex/ I never claimed to have wings on” from The Black Album. In September 2010, a Spanish-language oped she authored for New York's El Diario newspaper sparked the country's first ever public hearing on street harassment of women and girls.

Méndez Berry’s writing has been included on syllabi at Brown and Columbia, and has been cited in many books and articles. She has lectured at Princeton, Duke University, Texas A&M, Fordham and Hunter College, and was an adjunct professor of music journalism at New York University. She is a 2013 recipient of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Fellowship in Cultural Journalism from the New Journalism Foundation in Colombia. She has a bachelor of arts from the University of Toronto and a masters in journalism from Columbia University.

Nancy Biberman is the founder and executive director of WHEDco (Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation), an organization which creates affordable housing enriched by services ranging from job training, to business incubation, to youth arts and recreation, to green space, to internet access. WHEDco has developed two major facilities: its flagship residence in the old Morrisania Hospital and Intervale Green, and is working on a new developmentwhich will include a performancespace called the Bronx Music Heritage Center which builds on the Bronx African American History Project’s research on the Bronx as a site of musical creativity.

Rebel Diaz is a hip hop duo composed of two brothers, Rodrigo and Gonazlo Venegas, which travels the world with a message of social justice activism and solidarity of oppressed peoples. Born into a Chilean family exiled by the Pinochet Dictatorship, the Venegas brothers have been instrumental in creating a remarkable organization in the Bronx, modeled on arts organizations in Berlin, called "The Rebel Diaz Arts Collective," which has become a home for more than 20 community minded musicians, graphic artists, film makers and educators. Over the last five years, they have partnered with the Bronx African American History Project in numerous initiatives, including the Bronx Berlin Youth Exchange, which they helped to launch during a trip to Berlin.

Sheikh Moussa Drammeh, founder of, and publisher of the Muslim Community Report Newspaper, is one of the most prominent leaders in the Muslim and African communities in the Bronx. He has led and inspired many community initiatives including, the Islamic Cultural Center of North America, Islamic Leadership School, Masjid Al Iman, Halalan Tayyiban Foundation, Adopt-A-Friend, New York Peace Coalition, African Union Day Foundation, and New York Political Coalition. Through these organizations, he has received a number of awards from elected officials including the New York City Mayor and New York State Governor. Mr. Drammeh serves on several boards.  He is a recipient of the New York Post Liberty Award for Leadership and he is an Executive Producer of two popular television shows: African Union Profile and PEMA Program on the Bronxnet and Manhattan Cable Television.  

Dr. Bernard K. Hayford was born and educated in Ghana and earned advanced degrees from The University of Connecticut at Storrs. He has held teaching and administrative positions in schools and colleges in Ghana, St.Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) and the United States.  Currently he is the research consultant to the Bronx African American History Project (BAAHP) in the Department of African and African American Studies at Fordham University. This position enables him to identify and recruit Bronx-based Ghanaians and Africans in the New York Metropolitan area who, through their education, work experiences, religious involvement and community activism, have made significant contributions to their families, the communities in which they live and their country of origin. Dr. Hayford also teaches the Summer African Language Course in Asante-Twi at the Rose Hill campus. This course is open to non-native speakers and students, faculty and community members who are living in the New York Metropolitan area. Dr. Hayford also serves as an unofficial consultant to West Africans and Americans seeking educational opportunities in West Africa.

Omar Jawo was born and raised in rural Gambia (West Africa). He attended Saint Augustine Catholic High School in Gambia. He received an advanced diploma in Integrated Rural Development from the Pan-African Institute for Development (PAID/WA) in Buea in the United Republic of Cameroon in 1981-2. He is a social worker who has more than two decades experience working with communities on two continents and with individuals of all age groups. Omar is also an educator; he has taught at the university level and was one of the first Gambian teaching assistants in the country’s first university. For six years, he worked with autistic children  as a special education teaching assistant. Omar has earned an Associate Degree in computer applications from New York Career Institute, a B.A. (Hons.) in Social Work from Fordham University, and a M.S. in Social Work from Columbia University. He is a life member of Phi Alpha National Honor Society of Social Workers. Omar currently works at the NYC Department of Education as a counselor helping children and their families.

Dr. Imani Kai Johnson is a scholar whose work explores Hip Hop culture, b-boying dance practices, and the African diaspora.  She has been a Visiting Assistant Professor in Critical Dance Studies at the University of California, Riverside, and a Provost Diversity Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow at New York University's Performance Studies Department.  Dr. Johnson earned her PhD in American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California in 2009.  She continues research begun with the dissertation on b-boying (popularly known as breakdancing) and the competitive, improvisational ritual practice of cyphers (social dance circles).  Her forthcoming book, titled Dark Matter in B-Boying Cyphers: Hip Hop in a Global Context, considers the cultural, spiritual, and performance elements of Hip Hop as a global phenomenon through the microcosm of cyphers and the invisible yet influential forces that hold them together.

Dr. Natasha Lightfoot is an assistant professor of History at Columbia University. She teaches Caribbean, Atlantic World, and African Diaspora History focusing on the subjects of slavery and emancipation, and black identities, politics, and cultures. She received her B.A. in History from Yale University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in History from New York University.

Joan Morgan is an award-winning journalist, author and a provocative cultural critic. A pioneering hip-hop journalist, she began her professional writing career freelancing for The Village Voice. Morgan’s passion and commitment to the accurate documentation of hip-hop culture combined with adept cultural criticism placed her at the forefront of music journalism. She was one of the original staff writers at Vibe magazine and a contributing editor and columnist for Spin. Morgan has written for numerous publications among them MS., More, Interview, Working Mother, GIANT, and Essence magazines. In January 2000, she was asked to join the Essence staff where she served as Executive Editor.

Morgan coined the term “hip-hop feminism” in 1999, when she published the groundbreaking book, When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost. Her book has been used in college coursework across the country. Regarded internationally as an expert on the topics of hip-hop and gender, Morgan has made numerous television and radio appearances — among them MTV, BET, VH-1, Like It Is, and CNN. Morgan has lectured at high schools and colleges across the country.

Mamadou Niang is an international journalist, reporter and television producer, with more than 30 years of experience covering news, documentaries and human-interest stories for global television and radio. Niang formed, a television production and content development company in 2009 in New York to cover the African experience in the US in television magazine formats and channel creation. will launch Access Africa, an African television bouquet of channels created for the global African Immigrant communities.

Morgan Powell is a gardener, historian and community activist who has almost single-handedly publicized the African American contribution to maintaining green space and inland waterways in the Bronx. The organization he has created, the Bronx River Sankofa, has organized walking tours, slide shows and lectures that have attracted hundreds of participants, and have inspired widespread interest in previously unrecognized dimensions of community history. He has also been a relentless critic of development policies which have threatened green space in the Bronx, and which have the potential to displace current residents.

Kojo Ampah Sahara is a student leader and activist from Ghana who helped found the African Cultural Exchange at Fordham and is responsible for organizing several important events at the University recognizing African history and culture, among them an Akwisadae Festival celebrating Ashanti traditions, and a celebration of Sierra Leone independence.  Kojo has also worked to publicize the economic, educational and musical contributions of Ghanaian immigrants in the Bronx, and to celebrate  Muslim/Christian unity--one of the most distinctive features of Ghanaian immigrant life. He also helped publicize and recruit students for a course at Fordham on the Ghanaian language "Twi" the first the first of its kind ever offered at a university in New York City.

Noël Wolfe is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Fordham University, where she teaches courses on race, law, American history and European history. She joined the Bronx African American History Project in 2010 and worked as a graduate assistant for the project through 2011. She has also conducted interviews for the BAAHP. Her dissertation examines the crack epidemic in the Bronx from a community perspective and the interviews she conducts as part of her dissertation research will eventually be donated to the BAAHP.

Past Events


Monday, May 2, 2005
The Bronx is a Bomb, and It's Ready to Explode
The White Castle Protests and the Civil Rights Movement in New York City, Summer 1963

Friday, March 4, 2005
A Celebration of Bronx Music History with Guest Appearances by:
Rev. Joseph McShane, President of Fordham University and The Honorable Adolfo Carrion, Bronx Borough President

Future Professors Program

Visits from:
Professor Alondra Nelson of Columbia University - November 1, 2011


Fall 2008 & Spring 2009

Join us for a series of films, lectures & discussions focused on the cultural, historical & political contributions of the Bronx.

Made possible by a generous grant from the New York Council for the Humanities.

Free & open to the public. Events begin at 6pm in Fordham’s Flom Auditorium, Walsh Library, Bronx campus.

Schedule of Events:

“Cuban Roots/Bronx Stories,” 9/25/08.  Screening & discussion with filmmaker Pam Sporn. Join us for a is a moving narrative documenting Afro-Cuban immigrant experience in the South Bronx.

“La Bruja: A Witch From the Bronx,” 10/9/08. Screening & discussion with filmmaker Felix Rodriguez &performance artist/hip hop MC, La Bruja. View the compelling story of La Bruja’s struggle to gain recognition in the music industry while raising a family in the Bronx.

“When Every Gym & Schoolyard Was Open,” 10/23/08.  Roundtable discussion with Fordham historian, Dr. Mark Naison, & Bronx activists Howie Evans & Nathan Dukes.

“Gangway Beatz Berlin: Using Hip Hop to Build Community in Immigrant & Working Class Neighborhoods,” 11/20/08.  Discussion with social worker Olad Aden & youth from Berlin’s Gangway Beatz community group.

“Jazz in the Bronx,” 12/4/08.  Roundtable discussion with New York University jazz scholar, Maxine Gordon, & Bronx jazz legends, Valerie Capers & Jimmy Owens.

“Women in Bronx Hip Hop,” 1/22/09.  Roundtable discussion with hip hop pioneer & author of Mercedes Ladies, Sheri Sher, hip hop artist/actress Patty Dukes & journalist, Elizabeth Méndez-Berry.  Facilitated byFordham anthropologist, Dr. Oneka LaBennett.

“Civil Rights Activism in the Bronx: Past & Present,” 2/12/09.  Roundtable discussion featuring Majora Carter, President of the Majora Carter Group & Founder of Sustainable South Bronx, Shirley Fearon & Beverly Roberts, Presidents of the Williamsbridge & Parkchester Branches of the NAACP. Facilitated by Fordham historian, Dr. Brian Purnell.

“African Immigrants in the Bronx: New Cultural Currents,” 2/26/09.  Discussion with noted African immigration scholars & community leaders.

“The South Bronx: The Crucible of Black/Latino Cultural Exchange,” 3/5/09.  Lecture by historian Dr. Frederick Douglass Opie, Marist College. *(Note: This event will take place in McGinley Center, Faculty Lounge.)

“Church & Community Building Among Caribbean immigrants in the Bronx,” 4/23/09.  Lecture by Columbia University historian Dr. Natasha Lightfoot.

The Bronx African American History Project is a collaborative public history project built in partnership with Fordham University’s Department of African & African American Studies, the Bronx County Historical Society, & local Bronx residents & community organizations.  These events are also supported by the Fordham College at Rose Hill Dean’s Office.

This lecture series was funded by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Dr. N's Rhythm Review

March 3, 2007

 This spring, 2007, in Fordham University's McGinley Center, there will be a benefit concert for the Bronx African American History Project featuring an all star lineup of Fordham Faculty and Administrators playing rhythm and blues classics.

Click Here for More Information

The Bronx County Historical Society's Museum of Bronx History launches two exhibits on this history of people of African descent in the Bronx! October 20, 2005 - April 16, 2006

The Museum is located in the Valentine-Varian House, 3266 Bainbridge Avenue between East 208th Street and Van Cortlandt Avenue East in the Norwood section of the Bronx

Click here for more information

May 2, 2005
"The Bronx is a Bomb, and It's Ready to Explode!" 

The White Castle Protests and the Civil Rights Movement in
New York City, Summer 1963

Brian Purnell, Research Director of The Bronx African American History Project, delivers the annual, public Gouvernor Morris Lecture of the Bronx County Historical Society

Monday, May 2, 2005, 6-8 PM
The Music Room, McGinley Student Center
Fordham University, The Bronx
Food will be served at the beginning of the lecture!

Click here for more information

April 6, 2005

Press Conference at the Bronx County Historical Society Announcing the Bronx African-American History Project Acquisition of an Important Collection Documenting theHistory of Jazz and LatinMusic in the Bronx.

A Celebration of Bronx Music History
With guests appearanaces by:

Rev. Joseph McShane, President of Fordham University
The Honorable Adolfo Carrion, Bronx Borough President

Friday, March 4, 2005 7pm-1am
Fordham University's McGinley Center

Click here for more information

March 24, 2005
Bronx Jazz Scene Back in Swing at Historical Society

February 14, 2004
Radio broadcast on BAAHP from
Fordham Conversations on WFUV (90.7 FM and WFUV.ORG)
Listen Now! (requires Windows Media Player)

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