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Oral History Interview with Jo Ann Benoit, April 14, 2018

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Jo Ann Benoit discusses her childhood, including growing up in Haiti, attending a Catholic school there, and moving to Brooklyn as a teenager. She also talks about her passion for education and community activism, especially regarding her work as an English language teacher, interpreter, and school administrator. She elaborates about her Muslim faith, including her initial exposure to Islam through graduate level coursework, embracing Islam, observance of Muslim customs and traditions, and raising two children in an interfaith marriage. In addition, she speaks about having her portrait taken for an article in Essence Magazine. Interview conducted by Liz H. Strong.

Biographical / Historical

Jo Ann Benoit was born in 1975 in Brooklyn. She spent most of her childhood being raised by her grandmother in Haiti, with regular trips to visit her mother in Brooklyn. She moved back to Brooklyn permanently following the 1991 Haitian coup d'├ętat, where she completed her last two years of high school. While attending Pace University in Manhattan, she worked as an interpretor and English language teacher for Haitian refugees. Her passion for education continued throughout her adulthood, leading her to work as both a teacher and a school administrator. Coursework for one of her graduate degrees in education inspired her initial interest in Islam, which she embraced in 1999.

Conditions Governing Access

This interview can be accessed onsite at the Center for Brooklyn History's Othmer Library and online at the Oral History Portal.

Center for Brooklyn History
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201