African American Studies
Ray Hodge’s family came to the Bronx in 1947 to Prospect Avenue. His parents came to the Bronx from St. Croix. The family was one of the first to move into the Patterson Houses in 1950. They moved into the side of Building 291 on East 143rd street, facing PS 18. Many families viewed moving into these new housing projects as moving up in the world. There was a real sense of community; everyone kept the building it clean and looked out for all the children.
He attended PS 18 and had a good experience there. He says that race was never an issue at school and all the children were equally encouraged to do their best. When he was 10 he began to participate in organized sports. The first sport he played was softball. He was very good and played on a team the kids organized themselves that would play against kids from other schools and projects in the Bronx. He was talented enough that he was able to play on a softball team that won the city’s softball tournament. This team got to play a game at Yankee’s Stadium, unfortunately this was also the first time he ever experienced racism face to face. The group he played with from the Patterson Houses was very talented and would win many of the games they played.
He attended middle school at Clark Junior High School. When he was in 7th grade, at age 12, he began to play basketball. He and the people he lived with organized a team, similar in structure to their softball team. They played representing St. Rita’s Catholic School, which was close to their housing development. Again, this team was very good and traveled all over the Bronx playing other teams and in tournaments.
He went to Dewitt Clinton for High School. When he was in 10th grade he played on the JV Basketball team. He says there were a lot of politics as to who would play on what team. He eventually joined a team called the Nobles, who were very good. He claims they were better than any of the varsity teams in the city. Clinton was a predominantly white school, but he felt that he still got a great education because of the advanced track he was on. Instead of playing baseball in high school, he ran track.
6 months after graduating high school, he went on to Wagner College. At college, he earned an All American. He did very well on the Freshman Basketball team, so well that he was awarded a full scholarship. During his sophomore year, he realized that he had a shot at playing in the NBA. He was drafted in the 7th round to the Knicks. Unfortunately, it did not work out and he only got to play in their camp. After this disappointment, he decided he wanted to go into recreation.
While at Wagner he participated in a group called Black Concern. One of their major feats was taking of the administration building when he was a senior. The reason they did this was to change the recruitment method Wagner had for minority students. Complications arose in the aftermath that almost prevented him from graduating. In addition to this, there were complications with him receiving the Athlete of the Year award, most likely due to the fact that he was a Black student.
Around 1972, his parents moved out of the Patterson Houses. His parents moved into a Co-op on Bruckner Boulevard. It was also in the mid to late 1970’s that he began to see a change in the Bronx for the worse. He was working in an alternate school program at the time, and really got a sense for the decline of the city in general. He thinks this decline is due to the break up of the family and lack of respect on the young people’s behalf. He also says that because the community ties weakened, the parents began to disrespect the opinions of other people about their children. Parents would not listen to the criticisms teachers or neighbors had.
Hodge, Ray. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham University.
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