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Tuesday 8/20/2019 Show: Decade of Fire

Program note: we’re in a new weekly Tuesday night slot from 10-12 midnight!

The next show will air on Tuesday August 20, 2019 from 10:00 PM – 12 Midnight Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This installment of the program asks communities to Stay, Fight and Build as we talk to Vivian Vazquez Irrizary the Director and Producer of the documentary film “Decade of Fire,” which looks at the policies of racism and neglect that still shape our neighborhoods while offering hope for today. We’ll also talk to Moikgantsi Kgama of ImageNation, who will screen the film on Friday, August 23.

Throughout the 1970’s, fires consumed the South Bronx. Black and Puerto Rican residents were blamed for the devastation even as they battled daily to save their neighborhoods. In Decade of Fire, Bronx-born Vivian Vázquez Irizarry pursues the truth surrounding the fires – uncovering policies of racism and neglect that still shape our cities, and offering hope to communities on the brink today.

Through a rich seam of archival and home movie footage, Decade of Fire confronts the racially-charged stereotypes that dehumanized residents of the South Bronx in the 1970’s, and rationalized their abandonment by city, state and federal governments. Vázquez Irizarry, in her role as the film’s central character and co-director seeks not only healing for her community, but to redeem them from the harmful mythology spread by the media that has continued largely unchallenged to this day. She tells the story of a people who held on, worked to save their community and start anew against impossible odds. The accounts she gathers are supported by extensive research, archival footage, print and broadcast news excerpts, testimonials from retired FDNY firefighters and brass, as well as Bronx historians.

Through exposing the history, and lifting up the stories of survivors whose deep commitment to their homes and communities saved the borough, Decade of Fire offers the emergence of a new narrative for the South Bronx and places like it across the nation.

Since “Suga’ In My Bowl” is a essentially a music program, we will dig into artists on the Fania label just because we don’t get to hear enough of the music from that period.

This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Decade of Fire has a free outdoor screening in Harlem’s St. Nicholas Park on Friday, August 23 courtesy of ImageNation. Keep an eye out for other upcoming screenings at the film’s website.

Web Extras:

Watch the trailer for Decade of Fire.


Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman College in the City University of New York system.



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