One of the only ways anyone would know what went on here decades ago is by talking to the people who were there. That is what Mark Naison, a professor of African-American studies and history at Fordham University, has been doing for the past three years. He has been talking to the patrons and musicians of Club 845, the Blue Morocco and other vanished nightclubs, and with their help he is piecing together the fragments of a vibrant but almost entirely unknown chapter of the city's musical past.
As I responded to these inquiries, I realized that what excited people the most was not that a scholar at a major university was interested in documenting their community, but that custodians of community traditions were guiding that process at every turn. To formalize this, we created a category of individuals called “Community Researchers” who not only recruited interviewees, but identified institutions, or cultural traditions in the community that merited more intensive investigation.
Within six months, we recruited a team of experts on community history from Morrisania, whose insights have transformed our understanding of Bronx African American History...
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