Interviewees

Kafka-Holzschlag, Morris

Description:

Morris Kafka-Holzschlag was born in 1965 in Brooklyn, New York. His mother Phyllis Joyce Krotenberg earned her bachelor's degree and Ph.D. at New York University. Dr. Krotenberg served as an English professor and head of the Women's Studies Department at Kean University (then called Newark State College) for thirty years. In the interview, Morris discusses his mother's career and feminist activism with the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Morris grew up in Somerset, New Jersey and attended Moriah Yeshiva Academy and MacAffee Elementary School. The family later moved to Maplewood, and Morris went to Columbia High School. His interest in historic preservation began at an early age, and during high school, he founded the Columbia High School Historic Preservation Society. After graduating from high school, he initially went to the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and then transferred to Rutgers College, where he was a student from 1984 until his graduation in 1987. He majored in architecture and art history and minored in cultural anthropology.

At Rutgers, Morris became involved with student activism in the anti-apartheid movement and the gay rights movement, participating in the Rutgers University Lesbian/Gay Alliance (RULGA) and working at the Hotline. He became instrumental in documenting the history of RULGA (now called the Queer Student Alliance), which was founded as the Student Homophile League in 1969 by Lionel Cuffie, and in archiving the group's historic materials.

He worked on the Rutgers Sexual Orientation Survey with Dr. Susan Cavin, the results of which were released in the spring of 1987 and eventually led to President Edward Bloustein convening the Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes and the Select Committee for Lesbian and Gay Concerns in February 1988. Chaired by James Anderson, the Select Committee for Lesbian and Gay Concerns consisted of various task forces and released its report In Every Classroom (1989), which made recommendations for institutional changes at Rutgers.

In 1984, Morris bought a property in New Brunswick, which began his preservation work on historic homes in the city. He became a member of the New Brunswick Second Ward Neighborhood Block Club. From 1987 to 2015, he was a member of the New Brunswick Rent Control Board. Morris has spent his career working in the preservation of historic homes.

The interview delves into many topics, including social activism, campus life at Rutgers in the 1980s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the historic New Brunswick bar and nightclub Manny's Den, and affordable housing in New Brunswick.