African American Studies
Taur Orange grew up in the Bronxdale Houses which they were able to live in because his father served in WWII and these houses were designated to veterans. This housing complex opened in the early 1950’s and consisted of mostly two parent households. Her father worked for the New York Transit Authority, and after she turned 6, her mother worked as an assistant teacher, or paraprofessional as they were called. He describes the houses as having lots of trees and grass surrounding the building, which were very well kept. The ethnic makeup of the houses was very diverse. For fun, as children, they would play mostly at Bronxdale. However, once they were teenagers, she and her friends went to other areas to meet other teenagers.
She came from a very musical family, with almost all of her relatives playing one instrument or another. She received her music lessons both from a private teacher and through the public high school she attended. Her uncle was a professional musician and she and her siblings paid close attention to where and what he was playing. Her mother played a lot of show tunes while one of her brothers listened to Jimmy Hendrix, meaning she was exposed to a wide variety of music. The entire family would go to live music together whenever they could. Paul Robinson was a central figure in their household. In general, music with a social conscious was popular in her house. Her connection to this type of music began when she was in elementary school.
Although she grew up in a multiracial community, racism still existed. When children would fight, racial slurs would be the primary verbal weapons. However, she remembers Italians being classified as colored, not as white, and would therefore experience the same racism as the African-American children. Racial politics was something that was discussed from an early age. She remembers her mother picketing at the White Castle near the Bronxdale Projects, because they would not serve people of color. Her parents taught her and her siblings how to react to people who were harboring racist sentiments. In addition to this, the Black Power movement found its way into her life through the music she was listening to.
She attended Junior High School 125, which was in walking distance. She was enrolled throughout her career in the Special Progress program, although her parents did not make her skip grades. When she was in middle school, the civil rights movement was really taking off, but she does not remember it being discussed in the schools. Most of her information came from discussions at home.
One of the activities she and her friends did for fun was to try and chase the recording artists who were staying in New York. They would attempt to figure out where the artists were staying and then go and track them down. Going to house parties or parties at the community center were some of the other recreational activities she was involved in. Her parents encouraged her to give a lot of parties.
She witnessed many of the fires happening in the South Bronx due to the buses and trains she took to get to and from her high school. She noticed the changes that took place almost on a monthly basis to the neighborhoods she would go through. In fact, she remembers when her grandmother’s apartment building burnt down, which was located on the corner of 168th and Prospect Avenue.
She attended Bronx Science High School against her own will. However, she made new friends and had a good experience. There were mostly African-Americans and Latinos that had been raised in projects, just like her, and so she felt a real connection to her peers. She really started to get involved with political activities when she was in high school, joining a few city wide organizations
Orange, Taur. November 30, 2005. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham.
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