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Besham Burgess

January 28, 2024


Hudson, NY


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This interview is with Besham Burgess in the Hudson Area Library in Hudson, NY on January 28th, 2024. Besham is a Black man, 48-years-old at the time of the interview, and proudly described himself as a life-long Hudson resident and as a “nomad” within his home town, which he later described as due to his many moves over the course of his life (due to chronic housing insecurity) until moving into a permanent home seven years ago as a part of aHabitat for Humanity program. Community, family relationships, feeling “bonded”to others are significant themes in the interview. Besham talks about camping on the island, going to “the shacks” during the shad runs, being taught to hunt and his connection to nature as a child, which informs his love of growing his own food in his garden and passing these experiences on to his children.

Besham joined the Hudson FireDepartment at fifteen and has been a volunteer since; he discusses the racism he once felt within the HFD and the depth of “family feeling” within the fire department, which he encourages his children to join as well. He is a participant in the Hudson Second Line and takes pride when people in the community see him march and perform. He takes pride in working as a janitor for the Hudson Youth Department and in how the Youth Department provides a range of services and cares for young people; he was a recipient of those services as a young person compares the Youth Department then and now. Besham loves to be outdoors and loves to walk and exercise. He describes how Hudson has changed in recent years from a place in which everyone would say hello to each other on the street to now feeling unacknowledged, particularly on Warren Street, which feels disrespectful to him.  

This is a wide-ranging interview discussing the points above as well as the welcomed return of bus service in the area, Besham’s desire for sidewalk improvements and curb-cuts to improve accessibility. I think this interview would interest anyone interested in the perspective of a life-long resident, who is a sensitive observer of his hometown and strongly oriented toward the relationships in his life.

Interviewer Bio:

Walter Hergt has lived in Millerton, New York since 2012, is a media maker, carpenter, has a graduate-level education, and is a cis, white, male born in 1971.

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This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.

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Oral history is an iterative process. In keeping with oral history values of anti-fixity, interviewees will have an opportunity to add, annotate and reflect upon their lives and interviews in perpetuity. Talking back to the archive is a form of “shared authority.”

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