This oral history interview is an intimate conversation between two people, both of whom have generously agreed to share this recording with Oral History Summer School, and with you. Please listen in the spirit with which this was shared.
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Kathleen, who goes by Kat, and I met for this interview at the Hudson Library on Friday, June 7th, 2013. Kat is in her early twenties and currently resides in Catskill, NY, with her fiancé and nearly one-year-old son. Kat begins her story by talking about her family. She was born in Chicago, the third oldest of seven children. Her parents are both Irish – her father is an artist and her mother was a bartender until she recently started working at Catskill Mental Health. Kat describes her Childhood home family life as lively and close; loud political discourse at the table over coffee was standard. Kat was homeschooled for most of her education until she went to the Hudson High School in 2004.
Kat’s parents moved to Germantown when she was sixteen due to challenges in their relationship, upon which Kat decided to move out into a friend’s grandmother’s attic. She supported herself by working in the service industry and took overall charge of her life: her grades improved and she took part in various extracurricular activities.
After high school Kat applied to several colleges and got accepted to Bard College with a full scholarship, where she studied Philosophy and Political Science. She goes into depth about a Spoken Word group she organized at the college and shares one of her poems with me from memory.
Her time at Bard changed drastically after Kat decided to take custody of her sister and live with her in Hudson. The increased demands of commuting and family reflected on her academic record negatively until eventually she moved out to stay with her mother, who was very supportive. Kat met her current fiancé and quickly their relationship became serious. Upon finding out about her pregnancy, Kat made arrangements to leave Bard shortly before her graduation. She contrasts her presence at Bard during this time to the first years before leaving to Hudson in which she was integrated and more or less carefree. She also discusses the changes Hudson has undergone in the past decade.
Kat goes into detail about a trip to Broadmoor, New Orleans she took in 2009 to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina. She reflects on the struggle overcome the hurdle of integrating herself and truly helping despite her Exchangeable status as a white Northeastern volunteer. Her experience teaching there, tutoring off and on, and the natural teaching experience she gained by co-raising her siblings has affirmed her plan to become a high school history teacher, hopefully at the Hudson High School.
LJ Amsterdam is an activist, writer, and dancer. She was born and raised in New York City but loves stealing time outside the city because she can see more sky and is currently living with friends in Millerton, NY. Her background is in ethnomusicology and she has worked on numerous music-centered social justice projects and collaborative ventures with indigenous communities. She organizes with several groups in New York around land liberation, the housing crisis, and foreclosure resistance, and is becoming increasingly involved in making action education media. She passionate about working with young people and storytelling, and hopes to continue facilitating oral histories for the Hudson Area Archive.
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.
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.”