Fourteen years ago, the schools in the South Bronx neighborhoods of Hunts Point and Longwood ranked as some of the poorest performing in New York City. The local school district, dominated for over twenty years by leaders who ran it for the benefit of only a few, was a dramatic example of inequality and racial segregation. It divided resources between the wealthier white neighborhoods to the north and the low-income Black and Latino neighborhoods to the south.
As noted by MOM member, Rita Veras, strategies for transforming these and other social inequalities are formulated from within the membership. She says, when the organization found out that members’ children were not doing well…and the schools were SUR for so many years and there was no change, the organization began to ask parents what they could do to make some change.
Today, those corrupt administrators are gone. There is new leadership in the district committed to distributing resources more equitably. Reading and math scores are rising. In 1996, based upon the needs of the organization and community members, MOM broadened its scope to include a variety of compelling issues beyond educational injustice. As stated by former staffer, Lisa Ortega, “Our issues come from the needs of the people… If someone complains about the need for a stop light at the corner, MOM goes out and investigates if this is indeed a community concern. That is how the campaigns come about.”
Decent housing, traffic safety and environmental justice campaigns have led to other changes in the neighborhood such as renovated buildings, redeveloped and new parks, and safer streets. These changes were the result of organizing by MOM – a determined group of parents and community residents who refused to let our community’s children be victims of racism and neglect.
Long-time member, Joyce Culler says that MOM is a “very needed organization in the community. It would be a very sad day if there wasn’t our MOM here in our community for our voices to be heard on real critical issues that our residents face in the Longwood/Hunts Point community.”