Interview with Reverend John Powis

Could you talk about how the independent, uh, about the takeover at 110 Livingston Street, how that independent school board came about, what, what your efforts did to, to bring the problems to the school board.


Well, first of all, the independent, there were two independent school boards. One was in Ocean Hill-Brownsville which developed from the fact that the schools in Ocean Hill-Brownsville were at the edge of a district that was called District 16, and they had no representation on what was called the school board at that time, which had very little power. So it was almost a, a place where you could start doing something because they were not in any way represented by the, by the school board. So, in Ocean Hill-Brownsville there was this independent school board for the schools above Eastern Parkway that was formed. There was also a citywide board, called the People's Board of Education. And that developed one night at one of these hearings down at 110 Livingston Street, where, parents were just teeming in there to testify, and do- and to speak about the situation of schools in the area, not just in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, but around the city. And suddenly the members of the Board of Ed. got up and walked off their platform and refused to hear anymore. And the people who were there selected nine representatives, and I was one of them, and we went up and we took over the seats of the Board of Education, and we were there for 48 hours and people all during the day, all during the night, were coming down from all over parts of the city and testifying about how bad the schools were in their neighborhoods.