Oral histories are intimate conversations between and among people who have generously agreed to share these recordings with BHS’s archives and researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. BHS abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.
Every oral history relies on the memories, views, and opinions of the narrator. Because of the personal nature of oral history, listeners may find some viewpoints or language of the recorded participants to be objectionable. In keeping with its mission of preservation and unfettered access whenever possible, BHS presents these views as recorded.
The audio recording should be considered the primary source for each interview. Where provided, transcripts created prior to 2008 or commissioned by a third party other than BHS, serve as a guide to the interview and are not considered verbatim. More recent transcripts commissioned by BHS are nearly verbatim copies of the recorded interview, and as such may contain the natural false starts, verbal stumbles, misspeaks, and repetitions that are common in conversation. The decision for their inclusion was made because BHS gives primacy to the audible voice and also because some researchers do find useful information in these verbal patterns. Unless these verbal patterns are germane to your scholarly work, when quoting from this material researchers are encouraged to correct the grammar and make other modifications maintaining the flavor of the narrator’s speech while editing the material for the standards of print.
All citations must be attributed to Brooklyn Historical Society:
[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.
These interviews are made available for research purposes only. For more information about other kinds of usage and permissions, see BHS’s rights and reproductions policy.
Oral history interview conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel
September 12, 2014
Call number: 2015.011.08
Oral History Interview with Gladys Gonzalez
Gladys (Roldan) Gonzalez was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1953. Her father was born in Puerto Rico and her mother (also of Puerto Rican descent) was born in Spain. Gonzalez was one of nine siblings in the family. In 1959, her parents purchased a home and moved their family from the Fort Greene neighborhood to the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. She attended PS 108, George Gershwin Junior High School, JHS 64, and Thomas Jefferson High School. In 1989, Gonzalez cofounded PS 4 Paradise Garden. The garden was established on vacant lots near her home, which were the result of fires in the neighborhood during the 1980s. She married and had two children.
In the interview, Gladys Gonzalez discusses moving from the Fort Greene neighborhood to the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, life in East New York in the 1960s, establishing community gardens on her block, her school years and race relations at George Gershwin Junior High School, the effect of drugs and crime on the community, and her optimism regarding the future of the neighborhood. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Gonzalez's home in East New York.
The collection consists of twenty oral history interviews (with nineteen narrators) conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel with residents (past and present) of the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. The interviews were conducted between January 2014 and February 2015. The project was designed to capture the experiences of East New York residents who lived in the neighborhood during the period when families of color (African American, West Indian, and Puerto Rican) moved in and White families moved out, and the resulting decline of services and quality of life that followed. This process began as early as the 1950s and continued through the rest of the twentieth century. Sarita Daftary-Steel is a community organizer who worked for United Community Centers from 2003 to 2013, most of those years as the East New York Farms! Project Director.
CitationGonzalez, Gladys, Oral history interview conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel, September 12, 2014, Sarita Daftary-Steel collection of East New York oral histories, 2015.011.08; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- George Gershwin J.H.S. 166 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
- Gonzalez, Gladys
- P.S. 108 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
- P.S. 4K Paradise Garden (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
- P.S. K004 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
- Thomas Jefferson High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
- Business enterprises
- Community gardens
- Drug abuse
- Police-community relations
- Public schools
- Puerto Ricans
- Race relations
- Ashford Street (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- East New York (New York, N.Y.)
- Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)
Finding AidSarita Daftary-Steel collection of East New York oral histories