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Afro-American River Tour on April 15

Bronx Times

The Bronx will be a virtual museum for Morgan Powell, a history buff yearning to revive the forgotten chapters of the borough’s past. It will also be the setting for recognizing African-American environmentalists who have spread the word on the dangers of climate change. Both subjects will be tied together in a mile-long walking tour dubbed “African-American History Along the Bronx River II,” hosted by Powell on Sunday, April 15. This is the second walking tour series for Powell.

“This is about seeing people who’ve been doing green-work for the past 30 years,” said Powell, a Bronxwood resident. “The bigger story is African American history since people of African ancestry first got here in the 1600s.”

The free tour, covering West Farms, Crotona Park East, and Bronx River neighborhoods will transport guests as far back as the 1600s. Powell will highlight where enslaved Africans maintained crops during colonial times. He will take guests to 1863 when West Farms endured the draft riots for three days. He will also take guests to contemporary times when major African-American environmentalists shed a light on the impact of climate change, which is also the mission of the Bronx River Art Center, a stop on Powell’s tour.

“This is where it all started in terms of focus, continous rehabilation of the Bronx River,” said Powell, pointing to BRAC’s Boston Road offices, once the home to an electronic store.

“Because of their efforts, between 1978 and ‘80, the foundation for what is now the Bronx River Art Center center was established,” said Powell, who also credits BRAC for creating Drew Gardens, right across the street from BRAC.

“Many years ago it was slated as an on- or off-ramp for the Cross Bronx Expressway,” said Powell.

Spreading awareness has been on Powell’s to-do list for nearly 20 years. He volunteered his time to the Bronx River Restoration, Bronx River Alliance and New York Botanical Garden and found there’s not enough civic involvement.

“There are people who will come to an event here, an event there, but in terms of long-term dedicated volunteership, it’s very weak.” said Powell. “This is a very disastrous trend for anyone who cares about the future of society.”

This is the second walking tour series for Powell who had a successful run during his first tour, guiding 110 followers throughout various parts of the Bronx. Anyone interested in Sunday’s event can meet across from the Lorraine Hasberry School at 1057 East Tremont Avenue off Boston Road directly under the West Farms Square elevated train station of the 2 and 5 trains.

To reach reporter David Cruz, please call (718) 742-3383 or email dcruz@cnglocal.com.

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