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Historical Exclusion & Public Commemoration

Gregory Jost discusses the roots of exclusion in the Hall of Fame and its complex relationship with the BCC campus, students, and faculty. Jost examines the question of what it means to be a “Great” American, the power dynamics behind making those decisions and illustrates how we can collectively reimagine what it means to be a “Great” American.

Accomplishment & Opportunity

Prithi Kanakamedala and BCC students examine what we can learn about how history is remembered, from who has been entered into the Hall of Fame to how they have been commemorated. They examine the election of George Washington Carver, his namesake George Washington, and Jane Addams.

Public Service

Service to others is recognized as one way of achieving greatness. How many ways can a person benefit the society in which they live? Lloyd Ultan explores the varied nature of public service as demonstrated by those honored in the Hall of Fame.

Issues of Representation

Grisel Acosta shares her experience and insights on issues of representation in the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. Acosta highlights the contentious relevance represented in the Hall of Fame for current BCC students with an inspirational vision for reclaiming the Hall of Fame for future generations.

Check out BCC’s Virtual Hall of Fame and nominate someone you think deserves recognition as a great American.     

Browse The Collection By Theme

About Visions of Greatness at BCC


bcc_hof_117aFounded in 1900, The Hall of Fame was the first memorial of its kind in the country, built to honor prominent Americans with a significant impact on this nation’s history. Despite its significance, the Hall can seem at odds with the vibrant community that surrounds it, a relational disparity between the honorees represented and the very diverse student body now attending Bronx Community College (BCC).


This exhibit examines themes of historical exclusion, diversity and achievement at the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, a designated landmark of national importance, for the CUNY community, the New York City metropolitan area, and state.  This will serve as a critical tool for students as they explore what thematic connections exist between the Hall of Fame’s past and BCC’s present.





Project Team

Cynthia Tobar, Head of Archives/Assistant Professor, provided leadership, development, and curation of the exhibit. Cynthia is an oral historian, media artist and archivist interested in documenting and preserving community-based stories of social justice and activism. She has an MA in Political Science from New School University and an MLS, with a certificate in Archival Management, from Pratt Institute.

Allen Thomas, Assistant Archivist, assisted with metadata creation and maintained quality control of items featured in the exhibit. Allen received his MS in Library and Information Science from Drexel University and a BA in History from Cabrini College.


Jhensen Ortiz, Graduate Archives Intern (Fall 2016), is currently a graduate student in a dual master degree program in Library and Information Science with a concentration in Archival Studies and History at Queens College. Since 2014, he has also worked as an Assistant Librarian at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute.

Scott Voth, Web developer, worked on web design and metadata processing.  Scott has a MLS from Queens College, an MFA in writing from University of Buffalo and works on the CUNY Academic Commons.


Grisel Acosta is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Bronx Community College – City University of New York. She received her Ph.D. in English—Latino/a literature from the University of Texas at San Antonio and has presented and published her creative and scholarly work internationally. Her monologue, “Hardcore Latina Punk Birth Fragments” was recently published in the anthology, In Full Color, and performed at The Reproductive Rights Festival in New York City, which was live streamed all over the world.

Gregory Jost, Partner for Undesign the Redline, is an author and speaker with over 15 years of experience in bringing together the worlds of community development, organizing, data, and advocacy. Gregory holds both a Bachelors and Masters of Arts from Fordham University.  He is currently writing a book on race, real estate and redlining through a Bronx lens.

Prithi Kanakamedala is an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Bronx Community College – City University of New York. As a public historian Dr. Kanakamedala has worked for Place Matters (part of City Lore), Brooklyn Historical Society, Weeksville Heritage Center & Irondale Ensemble Project. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Sussex and is originally from Liverpool, England.

Lloyd Ultan is a historian and Bronx native who has authored over 1,100 articles and books, both scholarly and popular, about Bronx history. A graduate from Hunter College in The Bronx and Columbia University, majoring in history, he is a Professor of History at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Adjunct Professor at Lehman College. Since 1996, he has also served as Bronx Borough Historian. Ultan is renowned for his Bronx walking tours.


Thanks to Caroline Catchpole and Chris Stanton from METRO NY Library Council’s Culture in Transit program for providing image digitization and metadata support.

Thanks to colleagues in the Library Department, Library Department Chair Michael Miller, Carin Savage, Mary Ann McKenzie, colleagues in the History Department, and the support of BCC administration, including Claudia Schrader, Kay Ellis, Shelly Levy, Vickie Shankman, Elizabeth Rivera and Cynthia Contreras.

This online exhibit was made possible by a grant from the Diversity Projects Development Fund, City University of New York.