Black Jockeys at the HOOD

Welcome to The HOOD; the House of Original Dreams. A state-funded program serving at-risk youth ages 16-21 in West Chester, PA, 35 miles outside of Philadelphia.   Here young people can prepare for the GED, learn job skills and life lessons.  Their presence is voluntary; by entering the door they’ve made a commitment to change their lives.   Contracted to serve 50 youth, the center assists three times that. Students are bussed each way from their homes, workplaces, shelters and juvenile detention centers.

I visited the HOOD to give a presentation based on my research about the history of the black jockeys.    While working as a literacy consultant in Newark, NJ, I met Miles Dean, a teacher who had ridden his horse across the country in 2008 to celebrate the history of African Americans. * 

At the time, he was trying to organize a National Day of the Black Jockey celebration. Dean’s journey and the jockeys, athletes they’d never known about, intrigued the students at the HOOD.

*Stay tuned: My book about his journey: “On the Trail of the Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America” will be out in about a month.


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. ( I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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4 Responses to Black Jockeys at the HOOD

  1. Congratulations on the book. Can’t wait to read it. I loved your article about this and as a friend have witnessed very proudly the passion that you have had for this story and getting the book published. Also, as an African American, I was so fascinated with this forgotten piece of history. The HOOD sounds like a great program. If they need a doctor to speak let me know. What an impact this program must be making in the lives of these young people.
    Back to your book, this is such a great piece of history that needs to be recognized. I could see a movie in your future “Cyclingrandma” Calling Denzel Washington. This could be his next project. We can dream big


  2. Madeline Taylor says:

    i want to know more about the HOOD – so fascinating and your work is tremendous!


  3. Darlene says:

    Here is the link to The House of Original Dreams


  4. Pingback: My Homepage

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