Charles E. Wilson

Interviewed By Leroy Baylor

Charles Wilson was born in Harlem in 1930 at the start of the Great Depression. He and his brother lived with his mother and four aunts in a six-room apartment. Wilson was educated by the Handmaids of Mary, a religious order of Catholic nuns. Wilson believes his early education was a transformative experience, as the nuns provided the little things that turn a life toward achievement. After his mother died, Wilson and his brother were raised by an uncle. In 1953, he enlisted in the Army and served in the Korean War. But after the war, he returned to Harlem, where he created a program to teach entrepreneurship to young people. (Summary written by: Nancy Broderick)

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Park and Lexington Avenue (01:12)
Edgar S Gray (01:35)
1930 to 1953 (01:59)
115th Street (02:09)
5th Avenue (02:12)
12 West (02:46)
6 room apartment (03:22)
130th Street (03:49)
Black Nuns (04:05)
Handmaids of Mary (04:07)
sttending school with the Handmaids of Mary was transformative .the nuns did the little things that thurned your life toward achievement (04:32)
three sisters (04:39)
first born boy (04:48)
brother (05:13)
greyness of poverty and destitution (05:36)
people perservered (05:40)
people tried so hard (05:42)
communion (05:51)
st aloutius (05:56)
white communion suit (06:03)
indelliably placed in my heart (06:18)
lot of photographers (06:33)
proud (06:40)
1936 (06:44)
St Lukes Hosp (07:19)
dignity (09:09)
mother died (09:33)
aunt's took care (09:53)
lack of love (10:42)
good education (11:20)
st aloutius (11:35)
132nd st (11:42)
nursery (11:54)
#4 bus (12:18)
Women from Harlem going to Grand Concourse for maid jobs (12:55)
exploitation of domestic help then of black women (13:30)
16 (16:04)
1943 graduate (16:27)
3 left of 16 friends (16:37)
nuns (17:29)
8 years old (18:23)
uncle raise and provide (18:36)
clothes (18:38)
uncle worked in clothing building (18:50)
clothing shops (18:55)
liverpool (19:08)
dressed to the 9's (19:29)
sailboat (19:37)
1941 (21:34)
free lunch (21:46)
1943 graduate (23:17)
summer camp (23:51)
moved (24:13)
1939 world's fair (24:49)
bridal clothes (25:14)
Baroness Friendship House (25:58)
Russian baroness (26:01)
institutioin (26:11)
emigree (26:22)
Cardinal Hayes (26:36)
116 corner speakers (28:02)
Harrison (29:23)
Ethopia (30:06)
government (30:21)
latin (31:37)
Graham Court (32:28)
Kenny Jewel (32:57)
jazz (33:07)
Basil Patterson (33:51)
St Thomas (33:53)
Albert Oliver (34:10)
bd of ed (34:17)
1946 (34:33)
Franklin Simon (35:04)
St Francis (35:30)
Brooklyn College (35:36)
army 1953 (35:39)
social programs (36:04)
Korean War (39:10)
military service helps alot of people (40:36)
ghetto instead of neighborhood (41:36)
options limited (41:46)
options are limited (42:28)
the flight from the ghetto is real and it usually requires opportunity, money, chances , the federal government, eductaion (42:47)
matty cook (49:48)
leroy (50:02)
you've got to think outside the box in a ghetto (50:35)
program (52:28)
ability (53:20)
need backstop (53:28)
create (53:56)
you have to believe that you can do it (54:55)
got to get up (55:01)
people outside ghetto succeed (57:40)
end (59:17)
those who fail to plan plan to fail (59:29)


Transcript not yet available. .

Interview Data

Date of Interview
May 7, 2014
Location of Interview
Home of Storyteller
Place of birth
Harlem, NYC
NYS Employee; Educator; Consultant
Dates in Neighborhood
1930 to 1953
Birth Year
Rights Statement
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About This Collection

A People's History of Harlem: A Harlem Neighborhood Oral History Project

This is a neighborhood oral history project that works to both preserve and document Harlem history through the stories of people who have experienced it. This project will collect oral histories of people who have lived or worked in the surrounding Harlem neighborhood and train community members to conduct these interviews. Both longtime and more recent residents are invited to share their neighborhood stories, documenting Harlem’s past and present history. Interviews will be preserved at The Milstein Division, available in a circulating collection, and accessible here at the New York Public Library website.