Professor Myra Armstead interviewed Cynthia Dantzic ‘54 to talk about Cynthia’s two years at Bard and her relationship with Emerald Rose McKenzie, ‘52. Cynthia’s campus job was to serve as Emerald’s ‘reader,’ as Emerald was visually impaired. Cynthia describes her growing friendship with Emerald, while also recounting her own Bard stories.
Cynthia recalls a class with Dr. Fred Crane where she was asked to write a paper relating to American Democratic thought. She decided to write about the history of American atheism, much to the chagrin of some of her peers: “…there [were] several students that said it was a taboo topic. They just wouldn’t read the paper because they had–it was shocking.”
On Emerald, Dantzic discusses reading James Baldwin in front of Emerald’s mother and remembers Mckenzie’s “brilliant” seeing eye dog, Karen. Cynthia remembers just how multifaceted her friend was, detailing her role as a sort of ‘house mother’ to those around her, which foreshadowed her later work as a social worker for the Jewish Guild for the Blind. She also describes how Emerald was able to play the piano by reading the music through Braille.
At the request of Alma McKenzie, Cynthia spoke at the memorial following Emerald's death in 1989.
Photo Provided by Cynthia Dantzic
Emerald Rose McKenzie '52, Myra Armstead, Cynthia Dantzic, Women's History Month, Black History Month, Walter Ferguson, Josef Albers, Germany, Midwood High School, Brooklyn, Yale University, Bard College at Simon's Rock, Potter House, McVickar House, Professor Fred Crane, Five Star American Organization for Atheism, Alexis de Tocqueville, South Hall, Jamaica, Hermine Mckenzie, Vivia McKenzie, Dorett Mckenzie, James Mckenzie, Alma "Mother" McKenzie, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bainbridge Street, Ruth Benedict, New York, Ruth Neal '52, George Wellington '54, Alexander Scourby, Field Period, American Museum of Natural History, Pine Plains, James Baldwin, Jewish Guild for the Blind, Lighthouse Guild, Hotel Bossert, Clarissa Hall, "Cynthia Presents", Clair Leonard, Kappa House, Dr Martin Luther King Jr., Brooklyn Museum, NAACP, Jacob Armstead Lawrence, Pratt Institute, Michelle Murray, Anne Cox Chambers Alumni/ae Center and Bard MAT, Sterling King, Jane Brien '89, Karen the Seeing-eye Dog, Helene Tieger '85
1 hour; 5 minutes
Dantzic, Cynthia Maris, "Cynthia Maris Dantzic '54 (BardCorps)" (2023). BardCorps -- All Oral Histories. 84.