Meet the Elders of Atlantic City

Galloway, N.J. – Stockton student Tariq Baker said his interview with Atlantic City resident Ron Jordan gave him new perspective on the civil rights movement and its relationship to Black Lives Matter today.

“You can see that he lived through racism, but he was still hopeful,” Baker said. “Now he sees people our age come together better. It plays a part in how we are going to change today. Mr. Jordan really put things in perspective for me.”

stories of ac elders

Baker and Jordan were part of the Intergenerational Storytelling project coordinated for the Stories of Atlantic City project at Stockton. Students in Associate Professor of Communication Studies Christina Morus’ Media, Civil Rights and Social Change course interviewed 11 Atlantic City elders.

A Zoom presentation on the project was presented on Feb. 16.

“These interviews really show the power of community storytelling,” Morus said.

Michael Stafford said the interview was an opportunity for him to tell a personal story about racism in America through the microcosm of Atlantic City.  He said being isolated during COVID-19 pandemic made him think more about his life and society.

“I think racism is dying a natural death,” he said. “This is a way to interact with young people and give them a perspective on being a victim of white supremacy.”

Jane Gadson-Rice talked about growing up on the Northside of Atlantic City, which was populated by Blacks who owned and ran businesses, restaurants and hotels. She said the Black community was very successful, but then suffered as Atlantic City declined as a popular resort in the 1960s.

“We stayed in our areas,” she said of the city. “I went to a segregated school. But in the 1940s we also had a Business and Professional Directory. That’s how prosperous it was on the Northside.”

Ralph Hunter said it was the experience of seeing successful people who looked like him that convinced him to move to Atlantic City from Philadelphia.

“I was 16 or 17 and it just fascinated me,” he said. “I said ‘this is the place for me.’ ”

Student Tina Byrne said the interviews made her think of Atlantic City as a community and not just a place to visit, or study at the Stockton campus.

“It is a historically rich community,” she said.

Student Emily Montgomery said people tend to think of the civil rights movement as being something that happened in the South, but the stories showed her how it affected local residents.

‘This is a city full of amazing people” said Sam Apple, who is interning with Stories of Atlantic City.

Alma Johnson helped coordinate the interviews through the Golden Circle group. The interviews with Michael Stafford, Juanita High, Alma Walker, Clifford McWhorter, Ralph Hunter, Jane Gadson-Rice, Alfreda Mills, Ron Jordan, Yvonne Jordan, Yvonne Preston and Devolia Hill can be viewed on the Stories of Atlantic City website at storiesofatlanticcitycom.

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Diane D’Amico
Director of News and Media Relations
Galloway, N.J. 08205