|Oral History Archives at Columbia|
At a Glance
Interviews are arranged in one series, alphabetically by narrator's last name.
Scope and Content
The fourteen interviews of the NYPD Guardians oral history collection document the history of the fraternal organization and the experiences of members as police officers in New York City. Topics include: the impact of the Guardians on officers' careers; the group's advocacy against discrimination in the NYPD; litigation in the 1980s regarding promotion exams; and activities of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which at times saw the Guardians at odds with the NYPD Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. Narrators also discuss their daily work as officers and developments in policing from the 1960s-2010s. They reflect on police and community relations in New York during their youths and conversations about race and policing at the time of the project. Other organizations discussed are 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care and the Policewomen's Endowment Association.
Narrators are Eric Adams, Reuben Bankhead, Charles Coleman, Caudieu Cook, Deatra Fuller, Lester H. Grissom, Leroy Hendricks, Edgar Jones, Patricia Martin, Gary Miller, Robert Nero, Alicia Parker, Joseph Richardson, Annette Spellen, and Graham Weatherspoon.
Interviews are fixed as digital sound recordings (in WAV format), PDF transcripts, and print transcripts. Certain interviews were redacted. Redactions in the audio are marked by silence in the recording, lasting as long as the redacted portion. Redactions are also noted in the transcript. The archives did not receive unredacted versions of the interviews in question.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
Restrictions on Use
Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2015-2016.
Charles Coleman Collection of The Guardians Association Newsletters,1986-2015, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.
The project was initiated by Liz H. Strong for her capstone in the Oral History Master of Arts program in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University. Four additional interviews were conducted after Strong graduated in October of 2015. The collection was donated to the archives in September of 2016.
Liz H. Strong, Gift, 2016
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Finding aid by David A. Olson, incorporating description by Liz H. Strong. 9/2017
2017-09-11 xml document instance created by David Olson
2019-06-08 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
The New York Police Department Guardians Association was founded in 1943 and recognized by the NYPD as a fraternal organization in 1949. Over the years, it has served African American officers and civilian employees of the NYPD by developing community; providing education and mentorship; advocating within the department; and taking legal action to combat discrimination in hiring and promotion. In 1966, the Guardians endorsed the formation of the city's Civilian Complaint Review Board, a decision opposed by the police union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association of New York. The Guardians were also involved in litigation in the early 1980s regarding disparate outcomes by race for the NYPD's entrance and promotion examinations. The latter resulted in a 1985 settlement to establish quotas for promotions. The NYPD Guardians Association continues to provide advocacy and community for members.