By Ian Roden
This past Saturday, Fordham students and Bronx community members gathered on the second floor of the McGinley Center for Bronx Celebration Day. The event featured local Bronx businesses that represented the spirit of the Bronx. Among these businesses were non-profit organizations centered in the Bronx, Bronx apparel companies, local artists and two guest speakers. Also in attendance were Fordham’s own a capella groups, the b-Sides and the Satin Dolls.
The Fordham Club, an honors society for Rose Hill seniors, and Commuting Student Association (CSA) teamed up to create the event. Ariana Cipriani, FCRH ’17, has been planning the event since October and was one of the students running the show. She said the goal of the event was togetherness.
“Our goal for the event was to show the Fordham community and the greater Bronx community that Fordham University wants to celebrate the amazing Bronx history, culture and the artists and artisans that live and work to make the Bronx an amazing and dynamic borough,” she said.
She said she hoped to eliminate any divide between the Bronx community and Fordham University.
“We wanted to further fuse our relationship with the Bronx community and sort of take down the gates for the day,” she said.
Bronx Native and fromthebronx.com were two of the Bronx apparel companies present at Bronx Celebration Day. Both brands dedicated themselves to representing the heart of the Bronx.
“We have a mission to improve the image of the borough,” said Anthony Ramirez, part owner of fromthebronx.com. “We sell everything from Bronx branded t-shirts, postcards, bumper stickers, hot sauce, all images that positively reflect the borough itself.”
Amaury Grullon, co-founder of Bronx Native, said their products are made to embrace the culture of the Bronx.
“We try to highlight and embrace all the great things the Bronx has to offer and we do that through art, media and apparel.” said Grullon.
One of the artisans, Mother Coyote displayed an original handmade product. Mother Coyote showed off their all-natural health care products.
“We are an indigenous inspired healing apothecary,” said Melissa Mendez of Mother Coyote. “We like to create items that can help you heal internally and externally based on all-natural earth products and indigenous afro-Caribbean and American traditions of healing.”
Other groups at the event were promoting hands-on community action to help effect change in the Bronx borough. One such group was Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA) a group dedicated to preserving tenant rights in the Bronx. CASA promoted its goal of preserving tenant rights in the Bronx.
“Our mission is to maintain and preserve affordable housing in the Southwest Bronx” said Yeraldi Perez, CASA community organizer. “We do so by establishing tenant associations in local buildings and also through campaigns that address housing issues locally and city-wide.”
Mark Naison, professor of African American studies, performed a beat-boxing rhyme, accompanied by Angel Hernandez of the Bronx Historical Society.
Naison also spoke about the current state of the Bronx for attendees at the event. For example, he talked about gentrification. He said because immigrants of the Bronx borough are in danger under the current White House administration, immigrants make the Bronx so great.
“Immigrants from all over the world coming here in ways that have strengthened communities have made the Bronx a great American success story,” he said.
CSA and the Fordham Club hope to make Bronx Celebration Day an annual event in the future.