African American Studies


Interviewee: Robin Cenance

Interviewer: Mark Nasion

Date: July 15th 2009

Robin Cenance was born in New Orleans and moved to Harlem at the age of one. Cenance went to PS 43 in the South Bronx; it was a predominantly black and Latino neighborhood and school. The South Bronx Community Action Theatre was a popular and successful program that provided dance classes, drama classes and plenty of other programs that encouraged kids to get into the arts.

Cenance goes on to talk about the living situation. The projects were completely different back in the 60s than they are now. They were seen as elegant and indicative of a nicer lifestyle. Cenance said she felt very fortunate to live in the Milbrook House project.

Cenance is of creole descent being from Louisiana; therefore, she is rather fair in complexion. Robin’s family wasn’t particularly politically conscience because her family, especially her mother, would try to pass for white. To this day, Cenance admits that she is often mistaken as Hispanic.

Disco Fever on 167th and Jerome Ave was the place to be. The Fever was called the home of rappers. Apparently, if one wanted to be an official rapper, they had to “go through the Fever.”

Cenance entered the military in 1982 and moved from Grand Concourse to Baychester Avenue in the early 1990’s due to the increased violence. Cenance describes hearing gunshots in broad daylight. This was during the height of the crack epidemic that devastated the Bronx.

Click below to download supplemental content.

Cenance, Robin Part 1.mp3 (74539 kB)
Cenance, Robin Part 2.mp3 (15730 kB)