People & Stories Oral History Project: Al Surya Peterson

Al Surya Peterson has deep roots in the White Plains area and is a knowledgeable and ardent proponent of black history in Westchester County. His grandfather came to work on the Rockefeller Estate in the early 20th century and settled on land owned by a former slave on Saxon Woods Road. In this oral history, Peterson describes growing up in a close-knit black community on the White Plains-Scarsdale border. Although he attended school in Scarsdale, he spent (and continues to spend) lots of time in White Plains. He visited family and friends here during his childhood, was the first African-American employee of the Bank Street Post Office garage, and operated an African boutique shop on Martine Avenue in the 1970s. Now he supports the work of artists and craftspeople by organizing shows, exhibits, and festivals throughout Westchester County. Peterson also talks about the Mt. Hope AME Zion Church and the effort to preserve a historic cemetery near their property on Lake Street.

You can hear Peterson tell more of his story in this video.

Categories: Local History and Oral History.