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New book ‘Voices of Queensbridge’ preserves the stories of the people of public housing

Posted at 5:33 PM, Oct 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-17 18:45:12-04

LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens — Queensbridge Houses in the heart of Long Island City is the largest public housing development in the country.

“Voices of Queensbridge," a new book, is a project led by the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College. The book was made possible through the generous support of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.

“There is so much going on that isn’t reported in the news that they want to say,” said Molly Rosner, the co-editor of the book.

Marion Jeffrie's story is featured on page 63.

“I’ve been here since 1956," Jeffries, 87, said. "I’ve seen the good, bad and the ugly. I have seen it all."

She is the President of the NAACP of Astoria and Long Island City. Jeffries raised her three children at the Queensbridge Houses. She also happens to be the captain of a dance team called the Senior Shakers.

The only requirements to join the group are that you have to be over 62 and love to dance. The oldest member is 92.

Nelly Pettway, 79, is featured on page 139 of “Voices of Queensbridge."  Pettway is a member of a famous group of quilters from Alabama. Her family’s work has been displayed at the White House.

Then there’s John D. Smith Sr., who turned 92 Thursday.

“They are letting the outside world know about us on the inside, because there is so much negativity about the bridge. This is the truth that people don’t know,” he said.

The book is part of an ongoing oral history project at LaGuardia community college.

You can see the book online for free here.