New York Memory Project: Myra Seltzer
Myra Seltzer was born and raised in Bedford Stuyvesant, a multiracial and multicultural community. She worked in the NYPD for over 30 years. She is very aware about the social and economic current situation and said she would love to be younger to be on the streets with the BLM supporters. Interviewed by Antígona González.
Keywords / Subjects:
Childhood, School, Heritage, Family, Travels, Dreams.
Notes from the Interviews:
“I interviewed Myra during the curfew week in NYC. It was a week after the BLM protests had started during a time of pandemic. A week that had a strong emotional incidence. People supporting the movement for Black Lives were going to the streets in times where social isolation was required to avoid contagion. The killing of George Floyd by police hands had ignited an urgent and massive pledge for justice, not only for him, as well as for other victims of police brutality. I would say that for me, and for others, these were shivering days to our skins and hearts.”
Quotes from the Interviews
“I grew up liking and knowing everybody, because a I grew up in a multi racial and cultural neighborhood, for my whole life I always thought everybody as equal”.
“What I don’t like? Not about the neighborhood, what I don’t like is the president, I don’t like this man, he is ruining this country… he doesn’t even put a mask on to show people being a good model for people to look him and say this is the president and is doing the right thing, if there is someone who should get the decease, not to die, but to get it it’s him”
“I’m not a religious person but I just cross my fingers and I pray and say: Please, we must have to win, the democrats must win everything this year, we have to get rid of that miserable guy that’s the president, and we have to keep the house, and we have to get the senate, even if it’s just enough that we have the majority… we have to undo everything that this lousy president did and he still going to do until he leaves ”
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, FABnyc responded by dedicating staff time to aiding local efforts to calling senior members of the LES community to make sure they had all they needed during the lockdown. As we talked with the elders, we realized that beyond basic human needs, connection and conversation can also be meaningful, particularly for those with limited online access. Out of this realization came the New York Memory Project, which was taken on as an oral history project by artist and FABnyc collaborator Antígona González.
The New York Memory Project aimed to achieve a deeper understanding and create dialogue between the artist and the interviewed elders in order to communicate and share their (and our) truths, in spite of what we all were facing: isolation, uncertainty, and fear throughout these difficult times.
After recording several interviews, González has developed her own narrative of the project, and highlights interviews with folks who have lived through times of social injustice, political upheaval, personal growth, and, now, a global pandemic exacerbating all of the above. The New York Memory Project, in centering the artist’s experience and work, seeks to uplift the voices of the most vulnerable and yet most powerful of our community: our elders.