African American Studies
Delores Walters was born in Lincoln hospital and lived in Rogers Place in the Bronx for nine years. Her parents grew up in Harlem and moved from there sometime in the 1940’s. Delores fondly recalls the block in the neighborhood and the street atmosphere on Rogers Place; she remembers being very active, with a lot of playmates. The community was predominantly Black, and the building she lived in was run by a Caribbean family whom she remembers doing a great job of keeping the building up. Although Delores does remember there being bullies, she never had difficulty with them in school or in her area. Her block was seen as somewhat of a safe-zone where she felt she had complete freedom and felt safe.
Delores attended P.S. 99 until the fourth grade. Delores describes P.S. 99 as a “very rigorous school, an all Black school, very competitive” where most of her teachers were Jewish and “committed to teaching” as the students were to learning. She remembers being shown off by her father, as she was intellectually advanced from a young age. Education was stressed in her home, and Delores remembers reciting for her family members. Music was also stressed in her home, as Delores and her brothers were taught by their mother to read music on the family piano.
After attending P.S. 99, Delores moved to a five-room project apartment with her family in Soundview on 1704 Stewart Avenue. They were one of the first families to move there, and she describes the grounds as “wonderful.” Soundview was a more diverse place than Rogers Place, but Delores did not notice than until much later. While attending P.S. 107, she remembers having friends of all different backgrounds, as opposed to the all black P.S. 99. At age nine, Delores wanted to be a doctor, and felt that this was largely influenced by the emphasis her family placed on education.
The part of her childhood Delores enjoyed most were her summer trips to the beach in New Jersey every summer. Her family would go for a couple of weeks to a racially segregated resort area, although she did not realize it was segregated at the time. Delores’s grandmother also played a pivotal role in the enjoyment of her childhood; she would take her any place her grandmother considered “cultural and enjoyable.” As a result, she went to operas, ballets and museums.
At James Monroe High School, Delores describes realizing her family was poor, but did not see this a serious issue. She eventually attended Columbia Nursing School and became more aware of the economic differences between herself and others. She eventually decided to join the air force after nursing school, and was eventually turned on to studying cultural anthropology. She studied at NYU and the New School in Manhattan, and was able to study Arabic in Yemen through the G.I. Bill and Scholarships.
Walters, Delores. 19 November 2005. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham.
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