African American Studies
David Greene is a teacher and football coach at Scarsdale High School in Westchester County. He was born on November 3rd, 1949 in Los Angeles Ca. His mother was a Russian immigrant who had come to the Bronx when she was 14 years old, and his father, who lived in Harlem, was of Austrian, Hungarian, Polish, and Russian descent. His mother worked in the fashion industry as a model, and his father worked as a trucker. David’s mother was a down-to-earth Russian Jewish woman who spent all her time working and managing her household. She was suspicious of the other racial minorities in the Bronx, had slightly Republican leanings, and although she was ok with him playing with “coloreds” she didn't want any in the house. David’s father was not around very much, as he frequently ran trucking routes in the Deep South and California. When he was home, he and David’s mother would fight, and they eventually got a divorce. Mr. Greene had changed his name from Greenberg because he ran many trucking routes in the south and did not want it to be obvious that he was Jewish. However, he also had close relationships with the black truckers, and would even frequent segregated truck stops alongside black drivers. Eventually he settled in Miami.
David’s family moved around a lot, and correspondingly he was raised in several different places, including various places mostly in the south Bronx. He and his mother were forced to leave their Pelham Parkway apartment because his dad didn't keep up with support payments. In general, the neighborhoods he lived in were once White-Jewish, and several of his mother’s moves had to do with the fact that blacks and Hispanics were moving into the neighborhoods. However, because David attended integrated schools and lived in diverse neighborhoods in the Bronx, he had a number of black and Hispanic friends and associates. He and his second grade classmates from PS 66 got involved in the plight of the black students attempting to integrate Little Rock High School in 1956-1957. They wrote letters to President Eisenhower and were quoted in the New York Times. He was peripherally aware of the Civil Rights movement in the early 60’s. He attended Bronx Science high school and soon became angry at the white-flight trends in his part of the Bronx. His mother did not have enough money to move elsewhere during the Bronx’s darkest days, and the Greenes lived in one of the worst slums in the neighborhood. However, David blamed the families who had moved out—indeed, the fact that families with money and ambition were leaving the neighborhood ensured that the Bronx crumbled faster.
Although David went to one of the nation’s premier high schools, he was not a very good student. He was interested more in playing sports with his black and Hispanic buddies than studying. He attended Fordham’s undergraduate School of Education with grant and aid money because he wouldn’t have been able to get into any of the CUNY schools, nor could he afford private college. He first went to the campus downtown near City Hall before the Lincoln Center campus opened in 1968. There he became exposed to new ways of life and thinking outside the Bronx bubble in which he had been raised. Being a Jew, he was a minority, but he still made friends with Irish, Italian, black, and Hispanic students. His three closest friends were Black and Puerto Rican.
Nowadays, David looks back on his poor working class upbringing and education at Fordham as very important. Being raised alongside members of different races, faiths, and backgrounds had quite a formative influence on him, and has given him a fair view of race relations and economic relations. This is especially important for where he works now (Scarsdale), a predominately white, upper-class suburb in Westchester County.
Later, in 2008, he retired from teaching and supervised new teachers as a field supervisor for Fordham University’s Graduate School of Ed.
Greene, David. January 16, 2008. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham University.
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