South Bronx Battles book cover

More than three decades of service as the executive director of the human service organization BronxWorks—and a love for the borough she called home for 20 years—inspired Carolyn McLaughlin to write her first book, South Bronx Battles: Stories of Resistance, Resilience and Renewal. To celebrate the book and the author, Hostos will host a book event on Oct. 16, at 5:30 p.m. in the Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos.

“South Bronx Battles: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, and Renewal” looks at the same time period and upheaval as the popular, award-winning documentary “Decade of Fire,” produced by Bronx-born Vivian Vázquez Irizarry, who chronicled the burning—and rebuilding—of the Bronx in the film. Irizarry will help lead the discussion with McLaughlin, which will make for an incredibly powerful and educational evening.

The book, McLaughlin’s first, was a five year labor of love and a vehicle the author hopes “sets the record straight” about the past, present and future of one of New York City’s most dynamic boroughs. Told through the voices of more than 100 people and with painstakingly collected data, the book takes the reader on a journey through the once burned-out neighborhoods of the 1970s through the neighborhood’s present-day rise and explains how its residents fought to retake their community.

“Some people who do not know the real story believe residents burned down the South Bronx; some younger people didn’t even know what happened at all,” McLaughlin said. “The truth is community members had a huge role in bringing the South Bronx back to where it is today. The Bronx, the South Bronx in particular, is an example of how a community can come back through its people.”

McLaughlin illustrates the spirit of the community in creating a vibrant, diverse culture and its decades-long commitment to develop nonprofit housing and social services and provide better education, health care, and a safer environment for its residents. For the South Bronx to remain a haven for poor families, making housing affordable is the central—but most challenging—task.

The book also features the story of Hostos Community College and its contributions to the progress of the borough of the Bronx as a socioeconomic and community building engine. Hostos President David Gómez, a New York City native who started his professional career at the College years before becoming its president, contributed a forward to the book, in which he observed:

“Make no mistake, however, this is not a story of personal triumph or a David-and-Goliath allegory designed to convince the reader that good triumphs over evil. Instead, it tells the complex and nuanced story of how one community began its descent and, more importantly, how it began it present ascent. It is also a cautionary tale of journeys both down and up the ladder of success.”

To RSVP for South Bronx Battles: Stories of Resistance, Resilience and Renewal
E-mail: receptionRSVP@hostos.cuny.edu