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Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

When Historical Research Really Matters: The African Immigration Research of the Bronx African American History Project:

At the Bronx Muslim Forum at the Al-Amin Community Center, one of the most moving moments for the Bronx African American History Project staff members present came when Sheikh Moussa Drammah, who organized the event held up a “The White Paper on African Immigration” published 8 years ago by Dr Jane Kani Edward, African Immigration Researcher for the BAAAHP and said “I want tell you how this document changed our lives here in the Bronx.”

“When Dr Edward published this” Mr Drammeh who came here from the Gambia said,” very few public officials knew how many African immigrants there were in the Bronx. They didn’t know that there were more African Immigrants in the Bronx than anywhere in New York City. This document put us on the map. We circulated it among leaders of our community, and sent it to public officials,and heads of city agencies. And it made a big difference. It helped bring needed services to our community that had not been available before.”

I was blown away by this revelation. I knew that Dr.Edward’s research was ground breaking. I knew that it had been widely circulated among scholars, as well as leaders of Bronx African communities. But I didn’t know that it had been partially responsible for helping improve public services for Bronx African immigrants.

This not only made me incredibly proud of Dr Edward’s research, it made me proud to be associated with an oral history project which took its cues from the community it was studying and included leaders of that community in its research team, something we had done when we founded the BAAHP in 2003

It was people in Bronx neighborhoods and schools who first told us that we needed to study the rapidly growing West African presence in the Bronx. And who encouraged us to hire a scholar who coordinated these efforts. It was as a result of their efforts that we hired the brilliant Dr Jane Edward as coordinator of African Immigration Research, and later as a faculty member in the Department of African and African American Studies. And it is under Dr Edward’s leadership that the BAAHP began recording and documenting the voices of the Bronx’s African Muslim leaders, an effort which led to the sponsorship of the Bronx Muslim Forum

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