Interview with Rhody McCoy
QUESTION 18
LOUIS MASSIAH:

Could you talk a little about this student association, this emerging group of African-American student association and what impact and what work they did within the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Schools?

RHODY McCOY:

Ah, I think that there were really, ah, three different groups of students but let me stay with the ones that were most active. Ah, in junior high school 271 you had Al Vann who was the president of the Black Teachers Association and Les Campbell and a number of other, ah, Blacks, ah, I, I would like to call them for another set of reasons, Black militants. Those who were committed to educating the youngsters, who were committed to Black youth, ah, those who were committed to Black males. And they spent a lot of time trying to get these youngsters to see the need for an education and to take a place in the society. So, they engaged themselves in a whole host of, of what I would call very worthwhile community activity. As I say, they chaperoned the little youngsters, ah, they, they stayed after school in, in meetings with Les Campbell, and not the recreation of basketballs and, and racing and running up and down, they spent time in their studies, in Black studies, they did a number of things. Ah, they set up a, a food program in the community, and they also took that step forward and met with the Hispanic youngsters and they began to do food programs together in the community. So the, what used to be kids hanging out, not going to school, ah, snatching pocketbooks in the subways, doing all kinds of anti-social things that suddenly materialized into a very healthy community. I can recall White teachers who previously would, would, ah, ah, come for an interview and said they would get mugged in the subway, they were afraid to go to the subway. Well these youngsters would, would escort them to the subways, and not, nobody told 'em, they would just be waiting for the teachers when they came, Black and White teachers. So there was a more positive hope, ah, I'm, I'm going to use the word hope. Ah, let me go back quickly and touch with Martin Luther King. I recall very vividly that, ah, some of the teachers showed up for the after school program and these two young men, one I'd said, one I believe was probably in my judgment one of the finest young men I've ever met in my life, and unfortunately I don't remember his name, but I see him very vividly, ah, accosted these teachers--

LOUIS MASSIAH:

Could you just start again and don't say you don't remember his name, just go ahead.

RHODY McCOY:

Ah, the incident had to do with Martin Luther King's death and these youngsters came to me, ah, because there were teachers who, ah, showed up for work after school. And, ah, these youngsters asked me to please close the after school program down as well as the day school down because these young--these teachers would be getting paid when they're nobody, no students there and they should be out supporting and having the same kind of feeling about Martin Luther King's death. So these kids were indeed community minded, ah, as well as, ah, having a new look at, ah, themselves in terms of what their educational goals were. It was a pleasure.