African American Studies
INTERVIEWER: Mark Naison, Natasha Lightfoot
INTERVIEWEE: Linval DaCosta
SUMMARY BY: Patrick O’Donnell
Linval DaCosta is a supervisor in the New York City Housing Authority and a head organizer for the Cricket in the Bronx league. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1938 and came to the US on December 10, 1950, whereupon he joined his parents, who had already immigrated. He did his elementary-middle schooling in Harlem, attended Stuyvesant High, and then went to CUNY Baruch for college, where he was (and continues to be) a member of the NAACP. He grew up playing cricket and soccer in Jamaica, and upon moving to the US, he and his brother began to play on Jamaican teams in Central and Van Cortland Parks. In the States, his family predominately associated with other Jamaicans and West Indians. He met his Jamaican-born wife in 1961 (he was “attracted to half-Chinese girls” at the time), after his family had moved to the Bronx. DaCosta lived in a number of neighborhoods throughout Manhattan and the Bronx which were in the midst of demographic transitions. In many cases his family would be the only black family on the block most of the neighbors would be Jewish or Irish.
DaCosta has been closely involved with cricket since he began playing as a young man in Jamaica. In New York, he served many times as president, vice-president, and secretary of the Wembley Cricket Club, which was mostly composed of Jamaicans and players from the West Indies. The team would compete with cricket teams from around the city, and even teams from Columbia University and Howard University in DC. Occasionally, the team would go on tour to play local teams in Jamaica, and DaCosta went on a few of these tours. Because most of the initial members of the club are senior citizens now, the Wembley club is largely a social club, and the members socialize with other cricket players throughout the Bronx. Because baseball, football, and basketball are the sports of choice of the children of Jamaican immigrants, cricket is not as popular as it once was in the Bronx.
DaCosta’s first job was as an investigator for the Housing Authority, where he was one of the few black officers in the Public Housing Authority. His job was to visit the homes of people who were receiving financial and housing assistance from the government and ensure that these homes were in order—and that their financial situation was such that they required public assistance. He worked in this capacity during some of the roughest times in New York (70’s and 80’s) and witnessed a good deal of the effect of the poverty, desperation, and drug-related crime that characterized that period.
Today, DaCosta stays involved with the Bronx cricket culture as a member of the Wembley Athletic Club, which is a social club and lounge on 239th St. in the Bronx.
DaCosta, Linval. October 4, 2007. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham University.
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