By: Dr Mark Naison
I just learned of the passing of Andrew AJ Chappell, one of the Bronx's greatest leaders, athlete, human services professional, executive member of the Bronx Old Timers Foundation, an organization which seeks to expand opportunities for Bronx youth in memory of the great youth programs the Bronx once had in the 1950's 1960's and 1970's.
AJ, who grew up in the Forest Houses and attended PS 140 was a product of one of those programs, "The Falcons" the legendary basketball team fun by Hilton White in the small public park on Caldwell Avenue and 163rd street. AJ was one of the scores of college players who was mentored by Hilton White, including 3 of the starters on the 1966 NCAA champion Texas Western team. He also played an instrumental role in the movement to rename the park where the Falcon's trained, "Hitlon White Park" and Caldwell Avenue at 163 Street "Hilton White Way." I got to know AJ quite well during that campaign and came to have deep affection for him. He was a great organizer and a great friend, as kind as he was brilliant. I speak for many many people in expressing my shock and grief at his passing, in sending condolences to his wonderful family, and working to make sure his legacy is kept alive
In honor of Andrew AJ Chappell's memory, I post this interview he did for the Bronx African American History Project, which recalls a time when public housing was a place of hope and opportunity for many many Bronxites, and when schools and parks had great youth programs.
Dr Mark Naison
Professor of African American Studies and History
Founder and Director, Bronx African American History Project
Dealy Hall Room 640