Bronx Library Center, A Catalyst for Creativity, Culture, Education & Literacy

The New York Public Library’s free performance and conversation series For The Public came to the Bronx for an afternoon of poetry and discussion with activist writers Jose Olivarez, Peggy Robles-Alvarado, the Peace Poets, emceed by poet Miles Hodges.

What does it mean to be an artist in post-election America? What will the work of artists look like? How will it impact our communities and cultural and educational institutions?  Clearly writing under this administration will demand commitment to addressing social justice. It will demand artists have the courage to speak on behalf of the marginalized and disenfranchised. Speaking on behalf of those labelled the other. Understanding that there is the real possibility of being vilified, ostracized, and financially boycotted by opposing voices. Those with generational beliefs rooted in unfounded fear, privilege and entitlement. Programming focused on social  justice. Poems were centered on pride of ethnic and cultural heritage. Peggy Robles Alvarado encouraged women to embrace their cultural loudness,  by stating, this is where their power lies. Women are to speak, sing and dance fully.

I’ll tell you what this movement does not need, that is stage warriors. Warriors
fighting on stage, yet silent when off stage.  Needed are people on the ground in our communities doing the work, when the cameras are not flashing. Program artists delivered and are walking their talk. As a collective event and as individuals the messages were clear and powerful. Encouraging  and inspiring community residents to be catalysts for change. To support the health of and to build healthy communities. Performers received an enthusiastic response. See biographies of all participating artists are as follows.

Miles Hodges is a writer, performer, and founding member of The Strivers Row. He serves as ambassador to emerging adults at The New York Public Library. Miles lives in Harlem. Peggy Robles Alvarado is a New York City educator and poet, and author of Conversations With My Skin and Homenaje A Las Guerreras/ Homage to the Warrior Women. Her latest book The Abuela Stories Project, an anthology of women writers, debuted on December 8, 2016 at The Bronx Museum of the Arts.  Jose Olivarez is the co-author of the book of poems Home Court (2014). He serves as Program Director at Urban Word NYC, and received a Bronx Recognizes Its Own award from the Bronx Council on the Arts in 2015. His work has been published in The BreakBeat PoetsVinyl Poetry and ProseSpecter Magazine, and Union Station Magazine, among other journals. The Peace Poets are a collective of artists that celebrate, examine and advocate for life through music and poetry. Our art can take you on a journey from the Boogie Down to Berlin, from the border to the bodega. Our style emphasizes lyricism, rhythm and authenticity. We hail from the Bronx and have been rocking the mic since 2005. They are Emmanuel Candelario, Jerome Frantz (Ram 3), Frank Antonio Lopez (Frankie 4), Luke Nephew (Despierto) and Abraham Velazquez (A-B-E).

Congratulations Bronx Library Center, under the direction of Michael Alvarez for your commitment to the Bronx community. Thank you, for innovative and inspiring, educational and cultural programming , representing the diverse communities within the Bronx community. Thanks, to Jean Harripersaud, Adult Librarian for supporting the director’s vision for the Bronx Library Center.


©Lorraine Currelley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Phyliss Harrison Ross Dies at

28ross-obit-superjumboDr. Phyllis Harrison-Ross, a pioneering black pediatrician, psychiatrist, prison monitor and mental health administrator, died on Jan. 16 in Manhattan. She was 80.

The cause was lung cancer, Elinor Tatum, her goddaughter and the publisher of The New York Amsterdam News, said.

Dr. Harrison-Ross was a ubiquitous presence in the mental health field in New York and nationally for more than 35 years. She was an early leader in designing rehabilitation and therapy for children with a combination of severe developmental, emotional and physical disabilities.

She was also at the forefront of promoting teleconferencing to bridge gaps between doctors and patients, and what is known as televisiting, to link inmates in prisons in rural parts of upstate New York to their families in New York City and other urban areas.

From 1973 to 1999, Dr. Harrison-Ross directed the Community Mental Health Center at Metropolitan Hospital in East Harlem and was the hospital’s chief of psychiatry.

She helped form the New York City Federation of Mental Health,Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services in 1975; was president of the Black Psychiatrists of America from 1976 to 1978; and was chairwoman of the New York City Directors of Psychiatry in Municipal Hospitals in the late 1980s. In 2000, she founded the Black Psychiatrists of Greater New York & Associates.

Dr. Harrison-Ross served on President Richard M. Nixon’s National Advisory Council for Drug Abuse Prevention and the New York State Commission of Correction and was chairwoman of the commission’s Medical Review Board. She recently said that since 1976, she had reviewed the deaths of thousands of people in state and local custody.

After the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she mustered her colleagues to provide interfaith disaster services and became the volunteer president of All Healers Mental Health Alliance, which seeks to organize long-term responses to mental health needs that arise from natural and man-made disasters.

Dr. Harrison-Ross was also an emeritus professor of psychiatry and behavioral health services at the New York Medical College. She wrote numerous articles and two books: “Getting It Together,” a textbook for junior and senior high school students, and, with Barbara Wyden, “The Black Child: A Parents’ Guide.” Of “The Black Child,” The New York Times Book Review said, “Everyone can learn something from this book.”

Phyllis Anne Harrison was born on Aug. 14, 1936, in Detroit to Harold Jerome Harrison, a teacher who became deputy superintendent of the Detroit public school system, and the former Edna Smith, a social worker and professor at Wayne State University.

She was accepted to Albion College in Michigan when she was 15 and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1956. Three years later, she was the only black woman in the graduating class of Wayne State University’s College of Medicine.

Her husband, Edgar Lee Ross, died in 1996. No immediate family members survive.

Last July, she was featured in an article in The Times about issues facing older people when they move to smaller living quarters. She had lived in the same large apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for 48 years.

Dr. Harrison-Ross trained as a pediatrician and as a psychiatrist, interning at Bronx Municipal Hospital and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. There she helped develop therapeutic programs for multiply handicapped preschool children at what is now known as the Rose F. Kennedy University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. New York officials replicated the programs statewide.

In 2004, she received the American Psychiatric Association’s Solomon Carter Fuller Award for African-American Pioneers.