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Guide to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories 2008.030

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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion and Maria Santiago

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 22, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
Creator: Brooklyn Historical Society (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
Creator: Sullivan, Sady
Creator: Williams, Bahati
Title: Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories
Dates [inclusive]: 2007 - 2008
Dates [bulk]: 2008
Abstract: Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) and Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) partnered on the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral history project in 2007-2008 to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Restoration's founding as the first community development corporation (CDC) in the United States. Nearly sixty interviews were conducted with founding Board members, supporters, activists, artists, tenants, and other community members. Audio clips from these oral history interviews were included in the exhibit Reflections on Community Development: Stories from Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (BHS 2008, Restoration 2009).
Quantity: 32.27 Gigabytes in 236 files, total running time: 48 hours, 18 minutes, 21 seconds; 1 linear foot in one record box
Call Phrase: 2008.030
Sponsor: This collection was processed and described as part of the project, 'Voices of Generations: Investigating Brooklyn's Cultural Identity,' funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

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Historical note

History of Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, excerpted from their website: In 1964, with the cooperation of Senator Jacob K. Javits and Mayor John W. Lindsay, Senator Robert F. Kennedy set into motion a round of legislative action that created the Special Impact Program, an amendment to the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. He announced a seven point action plan that would serve as a national model for community development. The plan called for the formation of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Renewal and Rehabilitation Corporation and the Development Services Corporation in Brooklyn, New York, involving assistance from some of the foremost leaders of the American business community.

Under the leadership of Judge Thomas R. Jones, in 1967 the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) was formally established to consolidate and carry forward these efforts. One year later, Restoration purchased an abandoned milk bottling plant in the heart of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, Sheffield Farms, to serve as its new corporate headquarters. Renovations soon began to create what became the community center Restoration Plaza. Since 1967, Restoration has catalyzed enormous economic, cultural, and educational improvements in Central Brooklyn.*

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral history at Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS): BHS and Restoration partnered on the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral history project in 2007-2008 to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Restoration's founding as the first community development corporation (CDC) in the United States. Nearly sixty interviews were conducted with founding Board members, supporters, activists, artists, tenants, and other community members. Audio clips from these oral history interviews were included in the exhibition  Reflections on Community Development: Stories from Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (BHS 2008, Restoration 2009). The exhibition provided a local and national narrative of the rise and importance of CDCs from their inception during the late 1960s to four decades later, using Restoration as a case study.

*"History." Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration. http://www.restorationplaza.org/about/history.

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Scope and Contents

This collection of oral history recordings attempts to tell the story of a forty-year-old community institution, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, through the diverse voices of board members, staff, artists, business owners, community activists, homeowners, and young students of the institution's cultural programming. In documenting that story, a roughly sketched parallel story emerges that chronicles the culture of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Additionally, the more substantive interviews offer the more traditional oral history of an individual in addition to that of the institution. Narrators are often residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant and give their insight into predecessor or concurrent organizations such as Youth in Action, Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation, Weeksville Heritage Center, Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association, and the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council. The interviews also inform an understanding of the inner workings of Restoration and its effects on the community; including initiatives such as establishing Restoration Plaza and offices for the nonprofit, the Center for Arts & Culture, the Billie Holiday Theatre, Skylight Gallery, Youth Arts Academy, and the Weatherization Assistance Program.

Arrangement

Recordings in Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral history were kept in the original order, arranged alphabetically by the narrator's last name.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Alston, Peggy
  • Grannum, Colvin W.
  • Inniss, Charles E.
  • Kennedy, Robert F.
  • Thomas, Franklin A.
  • Vann, Albert

Document Type

  • Exhibition records
  • Interviews (sound recordings)
  • Oral histories (document genres)

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. Center for Art and Culture
  • Billie Holiday Theatre
  • Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association
  • Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History
  • Youth Arts Academy

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -y 20th century
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Enterprise -ones -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Entrepreneurship -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Nonprofit organi-ations -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.) |x Politics and government

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers with varied restrictions according to narrator agreement. Many oral histories can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal .

Conditions Governing Use

Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. Please see the Oral History Note for guidelines on using Brooklyn Historical Society's oral history collections. For assistance, please consult library staff at library@brooklynhistory.org.

Preferred Citation

[Narrator Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer First name Last name], [Month day, YYYY], Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories, [Object ID]; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Related Materials

In addition to this collection, Brooklyn Historical Society has many other records related to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Among these are:

• Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation publication and photograph collection, 1968-2007, ARC.124

• Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council publications, 1965-1972, ARC.163

• Viola Hargrave collection of Bedford-Stuyvesant photographs, circa 1960s to 1970s, V1974.005

Also, narrator Pamela Green, formerly the Executive Director of the Weeksville Heritage Center, was recorded in the Listen to this: Crown Heights Oral History collection, 2010 (2010.020). Narrator Ronald Shiffman, who helped conceive and launch Restoration, donated his papers to BHS in 2013 (2013.023). For more information on these and several other collections associated with Bedford-Stuyvesant, please visit our online finding aid portal.

 

Oral History note

Oral history interviews are intimate conversations between people, all of whom have generously agreed to share these recordings with the Brooklyn Historical Society archives and with researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. Researchers will understand that:

1. The Brooklyn Historical Society abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association (2009) and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.

2. Every oral history relies on the memories, views and opinions of the narrator. Because of the personal nature of oral history, listeners may find some viewpoints or language of the recorded participants to be objectionable. In keeping with its mission of preservation and unfettered access whenever possible, BHS presents these views as recorded.

3. The audio recording should be considered the primary source for each interview. It may contain natural false starts, verbal stumbles, misspeaks, repetitions that are common in conversation.

4. Unless these verbal patterns are germane to your scholarly work, when quoting from this material researchers are encouraged to correct the grammar and make other modifications maintaining the flavor of the narrator's speech while editing the material for the standards of print.

Existence and Location of Copies

This oral history collection was duplicated for the offices of Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in 2009.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The oral histories that make up this collection were compiled by a team including an oral history program coordinator and oral history program intern at Brooklyn Historical Society and staff members at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. Project staff included Sady Sullivan (Oral History Program Coordinator), Bahati Williams (Oral History Program Intern), Brian Purnell, PhD (Researcher and Interviewer), Tracey Capers (Senior Vice President of Programs and Organizational Development - Restoration), Wendell Rice (Director of Weatherization Program - Restoration, and Interviewer), Judith Anglin (Human Resources Director - Restoration, and Interviewer), and Peggy Alston (Youth Arts Academy Director - Restoration, and Interviewer).

Processing Information

This collection was initially cataloged at the item level by Naomi Dobrowolski, Oral History Intern, in 2008, and Sady Sullivan, in 2009-2010. Recordings were compressed for streaming, uploaded, described, and indexed by Maria Santiago, project intern, and Brett Dion, project archivist, in late 2016 and January 2017. Due to privacy concerns, the specific dates of birth of all narrators or other named individuals were redacted from the audio recordings.

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Container List

Alston, Peggy, 2008 January 28

Biographical / Historical

Peggy Alston grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. She attended Medgar Evers College and was a founding member of the Billie Holiday Theatre Company. At the time of the interview, Alston was the Director for the Youth Arts Academy, a part of Restoration's Center for Arts and Culture that provided professional-level arts training to youth from Bedford-Stuyvesant and New York City.

Scope and Contents

Peggy Alston discusses her experiences growing up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. She relates the importance of the arts in the development of children and adults, as well as the pedagogic philosophy of the Youth Arts Academy and her role as Director there. Alston observes the changes in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Restoration's role in its community. She also shows her appreciation for the arts in African-American culture and history. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Alston, Peggy
  • Moon, Marjorie

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Billie Holiday Theatre
  • City University of New York. Medgar Evers College
  • Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History
  • Youth Arts Academy

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Cultural facilities -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Baraka, Che, 2008 January 28

Biographical / Historical

Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1953, Che Baraka left his boyhood home in Jackson, Mississippi for New York City at age eighteen. After studying at the School of Visual Arts, Baraka became an art workshop instructor at Restoration's Youth Arts Academy in Brooklyn. Baraka's decades-long association with Restoration incorporates his roles as art instructor, curator, activist, and exhibiting artist. At the time of the 2008 interview, Baraka was a well-known mixed-media artist whose paintings had been exhibited nationally.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, the artist Che Baraka recounts his childhood precocity in Jackson, Mississippi, where he became involved with the U.S. Civil Rights Movement that would later inform his work as an artist. Baraka recalls his escape from a culturally barren Jackson, Mississippi to join the arts scene of New York City, where he became situated within the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Baraka discusses his involvement with Restoration, where he worked as an arts teacher, administrator, curator, and exhibiting artist. Baraka explains his curatorial philosophy and the difficulties of financing public arts programs. He states his views on Bedford-Stuyvesant's culture circa 2008, his current arts projects; and his thoughts on Restoration's social role and legacy. Interview conducted by Peggy Alston.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Baraka, Che
  • Gunn, Theodore
  • Inniss, Charles E.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. Center for Art and Culture
  • Design Works of Bedford-Stuyvesant (Firm)
  • School of Visual Arts (New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Art -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -y 20th century
  • Education, Higher -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Mississippi

Barnett-Keller, Mary, 2008 May 5

Biographical / Historical

Mary Barnett-Keller, born in 1938, was an employee of Restoration's finance division.

Scope and Contents

Mary Burnett-Keller discusses her involvement with Restoration from 1967-1978 when her employer Owen Haige was made Director of Finance for Restoration. She recalls the social environment of Restoration's early years and its impact on the community citing the Home Improvement Program as its most successful and important endeavor. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Barnett-Keller, Mary

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Nonprofit organi-ations -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Bobb-Semple, Crystal, 2008 April 21

Biographical / Historical

Crystal Bobb-Semple was born and raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Educated primarily in New York's public schools, she left the city for college and her master's in Public Administration. Bobb-Semple's early career was spent in children's services and she was a co-founder of the Child Welfare Taskforce. In the year 2000, Bobb-Semple opened the neighborhood's Brownstone Books store with aid from Restoration's revolving loan fund. (The program was a cornerstone of Restoration's business revitalization efforts.) At the time of the 2008 interview, Bobb-Semple's Brownstone Books had been open for eight years.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Crystal Bobb-Semple remembers growing up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, and recounts childhood memories of Restoration. She discusses her decision to establish the Brownstone Books store, details the mentorship she's received from the Bedford-Stuyvesant Merchants' Association, shares her role in the Bedford-Stuyvesant Gateway Business Improvement District, and considers capitalism as a means of community development. She speaks of the effects of revitalization efforts on gentrification, displacement, and multiculturalism. Bobb-Semple describes her career journey from an early start in child welfare services to her current occupation as a bookseller and promoter of literacy. Interview conducted by Bahati Williams.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Bobb-Semple, Crystal
  • Grannum, Colvin W.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association

Subject Topics

  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community development, Urban -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Enterprise -ones -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Entrepreneurship -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Merchants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Segregation -- United States

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Braithwaite, Edmon, 2008 April 21

Biographical / Historical

Edmon Braithwaite (born 1959) was a businessman in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. At the time of the 2008 interview, Braithwaite was the owner of two businesses, co-chairman for the steering committee for the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood Business Improvement District, vice president of the Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants' Association of Bedford-Stuyvesant, and a chairman of 1 Caribbean Radio.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Edmon Braithwaite details the responsibilities he's shouldered as a civic-minded businessman, his thoughts on community service, and describes his role in founding the Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants' Association of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Braithwaite explains the local Business Improvement District's goal of fostering an enticing shopping district to attract shoppers and support the neighborhood's economic revitalization. He discusses the benefits of prosperity and challenges charges of gentrification by citing a number of recent opportunities afforded local citizens by new small businesses. Interview conducted by Bahati Williams.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Braithwaite, Edmon
  • Dabu, Joel
  • Katz, Noah
  • Mitchell, Bernadette
  • Robinson, Annette (Annette M.)
  • Vann, Albert

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association

Subject Topics

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Economic conditions -y 21st century
  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Enterprise -ones -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Brown, Naeemah, 2008 May 12

Biographical / Historical

Raised in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, Naeemah Brown became a dance instructor and choreographer. At the time of the 2008 interview, she had served as the African dance instructor at Restoration's Youth Arts Academy for over two years.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Naeemah Brown discusses the small and deeply-interwoven African dance community of New York City. She talks of her connection to Restoration, and its impact on the lives of the residents of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Interview conducted by Anasa Scott.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Brown, Naeemah

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Youth Arts Academy

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Dancers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Performing arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Brown, Sheila, 2008 May 14

Biographical / Historical

Sheila Brown grew up in Brooklyn and remained a resident as of the 2008 interview. She had been attending Restoration's money management workshops called Wealth Building Tuesdays.

Scope and Contents

Familiar with the reputation of Restoration, Sheila Brown had little interaction with the community development entity until participating in the financial skill-building workshops offered by Restoration. Brown discusses how attending the Wealth Building Tuesdays sessions was a boon to her money management abilities. Interview conducted by Bernice McRae.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Brown, Sheila

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • Adult learning -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Finance |z New York (State) |z Kings County
  • Home economics -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Carter, Ralph, 2008 January 18

Biographical / Historical

Ralph David Carter was born in 1961 in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, one of an eventual seven children raised by his single mother. As a boy, Carter found work and fame as a child actor. At the age of twelve, he was nominated for a Tony Award in the best supporting actor category for his Broadway performance in the musical Raisin, based on the Lorraine Hansberry drama  A Raisin in the Sun. It was his sixth Broadway show. Carter was popularly known for playing the role of Michael Evans on the CBS sitcom  Good Times, which aired from 1974-1979; and for his 1975 album, the disco-era hit "When You're Young and in Love."

Scope and Contents

In this interview, the singer, songwriter, actor, and playwright Ralph Carter discusses the historical roots of his childhood in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn. He recalls the misunderstood nature of the Brownsville community, including the watchful eyes of vagrant people, and the cultural energy that encircled and influenced his development. He explains his religious or spiritual beliefs and social justice convictions. Carter lauds many of the important mentors in his career, with a particular emphasis on John Amos. Carter prescribes a didactic role for theater and the arts in providing positive Black role models to everyday Americans or depicting the horrors of drug addiction (as in the 1989 Judi Ann Mason play Donnie's House, in which Carter performed the leading role). He remembers the legacy of Restoration and its Billie Holiday Theatre for providing employment to Black performing artists, and intellectual entertainment for a Black audience. Carter expounds upon the importance of diversity in the theater, of cultural heritage institutions in early childhood development, and mentorship in artistic development. Interview conducted by Peggy Alston.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Alston, Peggy
  • Carter, Ralph David
  • Mason, Judi Ann
  • Moon, Marjorie
  • Robeson, Paul

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Billie Holiday Theatre
  • Youth Arts Academy

Subject Topics

  • Actors -- United States
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -y 20th century
  • Cultural facilities -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Performing arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Theater -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Charles, Kourtney, 2008 May

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Subject Names

  • Charles, Kourtney

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Dabu, Joel, 2008 April 11

Biographical / Historical

Joel Dabu was born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1980, and attended New York University's Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where he received a master's degree in Urban Planning. At the time of the 2008 interview, Dabu worked as a Commercial Revitalization Manager at Restoration, where his main task consisted of aiding in the revitalization of the Fulton Street and Nostrand Avenue business district.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Joel Dabu discusses his work in community revitalization with Restoration and its emphasis on commercial rehabilitation and the Bedford-Stuyvesant Gateway Business Improvement District. He shares his views on redlining, segregation, and the construction and availability of affordable housing -- as well as possible negative effects such as gentrification and displacement. Dabu discusses the role local government can play in supporting community entrepreneurship and the possible effects of the 2008 economic recession. Interview conducted by Bahati Williams.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Dabu, Joel

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association

Subject Topics

  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Discrimination in mortgage loans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Enterprise -ones -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Entrepreneurship -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Segregation -- United States

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Danois, David, 2008 May 5

Biographical / Historical

Born in a Jewish hospital in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1945, David Danois' early life was spent in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Queens. He returned permanently to Brooklyn to attend Pratt Institute's Martin Luther King Fellowship Program. Hired by Restoration while still attending Pratt, Danois worked as the staff architect and later became the vice president of Restoration's large housing rehabilitation program. At the time of the 2008 interview, Danois owned his own architecture firm, Danois Architects, which specialized in design for affordable housing.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, David Danois describes his early involvement with Restoration as a staff architect. Danois discusses the workaday life at Restoration, challenges to affordable housing in Bedford-Stuyvesant and greater Brooklyn, and recent rapid increases in property values. He expresses his respect for the neighborhood's vibrancy and expresses optimism for its future. At the interview's end, Danois describes his current occupation as the owner of a small architecture firm which specializes in the development of affordable housing and condominiums in Brooklyn. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Danois, David
  • Patterson, George
  • Thomas, Franklin A.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Pratt Institute

Subject Topics

  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Edwards, Seth, 2008 April 29

Biographical / Historical

Seth Edwards was born in 1946 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the son of an Episcopalian missionary. Around age two, Edwards moved with his family to Liberia, where his father served as a medical missionary. During their time in Liberia, Edwards and his family would occasionally vacation with his grandparents in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Edwards stayed in Liberia with his family until middle school, when he enrolled at a boarding school in Garden City, Long Island. Edwards graduated from Cornell University via a university in Liberia, which he attended on a Cornell exchange program. Soon after, Edwards was drafted into the United States Army and served in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1969. Upon returning to America, Edwards joined JP Morgan Chase Bank. At the time of the 2008 interview, Edwards was a vice president within the bank's Global Philanthropy, Community Relations division.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Seth Edwards discusses his own life story, and his family's history and genealogy. He provides impressions of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn of his youth. Edwards recounts Bedford-Stuyvesant's economic and cultural renaissance, and describes the essential role played by Restoration in the community's evolution, sharing his thoughts on the tension between economic development and gentrification. At the interview's end, Edwards describes JP Morgan Chase Bank's philanthropic strategy. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Edwards, Seth

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History
  • United States. Army

Subject Topics

  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Enterprise -ones -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Entrepreneurship -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Philanthropists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Paris (France)

English, Josephine, 2008 April 29

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Josephine English was born in 1920 in Ontario, Virginia. After her mother's early death, English and her siblings were raised by her single father in Englewood, New Jersey. She attended Hunter College as an undergraduate, attained a master's degree in psychology from New York University; and went to medical school at the historically African American Meharry Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee. Upon graduation in 1949, Dr. English worked as one of New York's first African American female doctors at Harlem Hospital. After relocating to Brooklyn to work and live, Dr. English founded the Women's Health Center, Adelphi Medical Center, and the Paul Robeson Theater in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. Dr. English died in 2011 at the age of ninety-one.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Dr. Josephine English relates stories from her life's history, including tales from her childhood and her career as a doctor. She details her experiences with sexism and racism, encountered during medical school and later, as a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist. She describes her achievements as an OB-GYN: Having delivered thousands of babies (including the six children of Malcom X and Betty Shabazz), and founding the Women's Health Center. Dr. English reflects on her community activism, including founding the Paul Robeson Theater, and the Adelphi Medical Center. She openly shares her personal opinions on the practice of medicine today as it relates to women and the indigent; her thoughts on modern social ills such as HIV, gentrification, and displacement; and her views on politics and religion. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • English, Josephine, Dr.
  • Obama, Barack

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Medicine -x Practice -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Racism
  • Theater -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Societies, etc.
  • Women -- United States -x Social conditions
  • Women's health services -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Politics and government
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Fishman, Alan, 2008 May 14

Biographical / Historical

Alan Fishman grew up in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he played competitive basketball throughout the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn and attended Erasmus Hall High School. He attended Brown University as an undergraduate and holds a master's degree in economics from Columbia University. A commercial banker, Fishman's involvement with Restoration began in 1969. At the time of the 2008 interview, Fishman was a former president of Independence Community Bank, the current chairman of the Independence Community Foundation, the current chairman of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and a significant supporter of Restoration.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Alan Fishman remembers growing up on the basketball courts of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, a period he recalls as important in his development. Fishman recounts Restoration's emergence from a time of financial challenges and discontinuity of leadership. He describes a collaboration between the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Restoration in the Dance Africa program, noting the rarity of such successful ventures. Fishman discusses the evolution of Bedford-Stuyvesant and the essential role played by cultural and leadership centers in the maintenance of a vibrant community. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Fishman, Alan
  • Grannum, Colvin W.
  • Thomas, Franklin A.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Youth Arts Academy

Subject Topics

  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Philanthropists -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.)

Glascoe, Benjamin, 2007 August 31

Biographical / Historical

Benjamin A. Glascoe (1937- ) was born at St. Mary's Hospital and was raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. He played collegiate baseball and football for Shaw University, where he graduated in 1961. Glascoe's professional career began with the New York City Social Services Division, where he served as a case worker. From there, he was hired by Restoration in 1968, just months after its founding; his first position was in community organizing. Glascoe quickly became a leader at Restoration; serving as director of community programs, manager of Restoration Plaza, and as assistant to Restoration president Franklin Thomas. In 1981, Glascoe joined the Consolidated Edison team, where he served as manager of public affairs and director of economic development. During his retirement, Glascoe remained active on the boards of Restoration, the East Harlem Council for Economic Improvement, and the Transfiguration Education Association.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Benjamin A. Glascoe remembers the racially integrated Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn of his youth; and details his education. Glascoe provides his impressions of Bedford-Stuyvesant in the 1960s. He recalls his different roles at Restoration. As the director of community programs, Glascoe revamped a problematic public sanitation program, installed youth programming, and created a successful jobs training program called the Home Improvement Program. Glascoe recounts an era of financial difficulty for Restoration, when the organization was penalized and significantly de-funded by the federal government because they had invested federal monies with the plan to use the proceeds as their operating budget. At one moment, Glascoe becomes emotional when remembering his son, the firefighter Keith Glascoe, who perished in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. Finally, Glascoe shares his optimism for Restoration's future. Interview conducted by Brian Purnell.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Glascoe, Benjamin
  • Grannum, Colvin W.
  • Thomas, Franklin A.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Cultural facilities -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Merchants -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Grannum, Colvin, 2008 January 8

Biographical / Historical

Born in 1953, Colvin W. Grannum was raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he studied at P.S. 130 Elementary and Erasmus Hall High School, and attended the Beulah Church of the Nazarene. He majored in religion at the University of Pennsylvania, received a law degree from Georgetown University, and subsequently practiced law for over seventeen years. After serving as the president of Bridge Street Community Development Corporation, Grannum was brought on as the president of Restoration. At the time of the 2008 interview, Grannum had held that position for over five years.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Colvin Grannum, president of Restoration, speaks of his work at the Bridge Street Development Corporation (a community development corporation) and Restoration, and differentiates between faith-based and non-church-affiliated CDCs. He reminisces about growing up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, addresses the changes he's witnessed within the community, and discusses Restoration's role and opportunities in future development. He provides his thoughts on the United States' national politics and the 2008 presidential election. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Grannum, Colvin W.
  • Inniss, Charles E.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Bridge Street Development Corporation

Subject Topics

  • African American churches -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Religion -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Spirituality

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Green, Pamela, 2008 February 5

Biographical / Historical

Pamela Green was born in Gulfport, Mississippi in 1948. Green has a bachelor's degree in mathematics and began her career in 1968. She has worked for International Business Machines (IBM) and First National Bank of Chicago. She was a commissioner with city government in New York until becoming an executive with the Children's Television Workshop, the production company of Sesame Street. After being laid off in 2001, she became Executive Director of what was then the Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. Green oversaw the restoration of historic homes on the site and a name change to the Weeksville Heritage Center in 2005. Three years later, plans for a new Education and Cultural Arts Building were implemented and building began. She retired from the center in summer of 2013. Green was a resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn for decades, and also has a master's degree in finance from the University of Chicago.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Pamela Green, executive director of the Weeksville Heritage Center, provides a history of Weeksville, a post-enslavement community of free, land-owning African Americans founded circa 1838 in Brooklyn, New York. She tells of the discovery of Weeksville, the campaign for its conservation and preservation, and the establishment of the Heritage Center. She outlines Weeksville Heritage Center's plans for the development and expansion of public programming to provide a contemporary learning experience that emphasizes early post-enslavement African American culture and achievements. She names connections between the WHC and Restoration, outlays her idea of the proper role of community development corporations, and discusses the matriarchy of female Black community leaders in Brooklyn's recent history. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan with Bahati Williams.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Green, Pamela
  • Maynard, Joan
  • Richardson, Elsie

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Architecture -- Conservation and restoration
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Cultural facilities -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Historic buildings -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Nonprofit organi-ations -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History |y 19th century
  • Weeksville (New York, N.Y.)

Gunn, Theodore, 2008 January 31

Biographical / Historical

The artist Theodore "Teddy" Gunn, born 1931, was raised primarily in the Upstate New York town of Saugerties before moving with his family to the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan. During a lengthy career, Gunn worked with many of New York City's most respected arts and cultural institutions. In his thirty-two-year career with Restoration, he served as the director of the Center for Arts and Culture from 1970 to 1994. He served as a founding trustee, acting director, and exhibition coordinator at Harlem's Studio Museum; and served as a member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Committee for Community Programs. He served on the board of directors of many of New York City's influential institutions, including the Brooklyn Arts and Cultural Association, the Brooklyn Masonic Temple, the Washington Heights Arts Show, and The Rotunda Gallery. He died in 2010.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Theodore "Teddy" Gunn discusses his introduction to Restoration at its inception, in the 1960s. He describes the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and community of Brooklyn around that era, and how it's progressed over the last thirty years. Gunn calls its evolution, gentrification, and eventual inclusion of many races and peoples "totally American." He speaks of his thirty-two-year career with Restoration, and reflects on Restoration's role in shepherding community improvements via social, cultural, educational, and outreach programming. Gunn also describes his proudest achievements and legacy at Restoration. Interview conducted by Judith Anglin.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Gunn, Theodore
  • Inniss, Charles E.
  • Kennedy, Robert F.
  • Thomas, Franklin A.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • Art -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Cultural facilities -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Nonprofit organi-ations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Philanthropists -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Javits, Carla, 2008 February 4

Biographical / Historical

Carla Javits was one of United States Senator from New York Jacob Javits's three children. She held a bachelor's degree and a master's in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley. Carla Javits' father, along with Senator Robert F. Kennedy, created the Economic Opportunity Act that led to Restoration's initial funding, and subsequently laid the groundwork for its establishment. At that time, Carla Javits was around ten years old. Javits was the former President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Corporation for Supportive Housing and later became the President and CEO of the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund, which continued her twenty-five year career in advocacy for the homeless and disadvantaged.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Carla Javits discusses her father, Senator Jacob Javits, and his involvement in laying the groundwork for, and establishing, Restoration. She explains Restoration's role as an inspiration for other community development corporations (CDCs), as well as the necessity of federal financial support for the success of CDCs. At the interview's end, Javits touches on her current professional and philanthropic activities in non-profit organizations concerned with human development. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Javits, Carla
  • Javits, Jacob K. (Jacob Koppel)
  • Kennedy, Robert F.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Corporation for Supportive Housing

Subject Topics

  • Communities
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Legislators -- United States

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Politics and government |y 20th century

Katz, Noah, 2008 May 21

Biographical / Historical

Noah Katz (born 1966), along with his brother Daniel and father Sidney, owned and operated the Super FoodTown located in Restoration Plaza. While the Katz family owned grocery stores throughout New York City, they considered the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn location to be their flagship. At the time of the 2008 interview, the store had been open almost five years. The Katz family were active participant members of the Fulton-Nostrand Merchant's Association, and Noah Katz served as co-chairman of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Gateway Business Improvement District (BID) campaign committee.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Noah Katz relates his family's early interest in opening a Super FoodTown grocery store inside the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn's Restoration Plaza. He recounts the effort to renovate the location's footprint from its previous incarnation into a larger, upscale version -- a feat which Katz served as general contractor and completed in ninety days. Katz reflects on the importance of grocery stores in close-knit communities and counts the benefits of strong supermarkets: They are a local source of employment, a place to encounter neighbors, and of course, a convenient location in which to purchase groceries. Katz enumerates his family's charitable contributions to the Bedford-Stuyvesant community, including donations to Restoration. Finally Katz tells of his work with the Fulton-Nostrand Merchant's Association, in which he and his family are active participant members, and his work with the Bedford-Stuyvesant Gateway Business Improvement District (BID). Katz served as the co-chairman of that BID's campaign committee. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Katz, Noah

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association

Subject Topics

  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community development, Urban -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Enterprise -ones -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Markets -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Philanthropists -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Keller, Thomas, 2008 February 9

Biographical / Historical

The New York-area real estate developer Thomas B. Keller, born in 1931 in Toledo, Ohio, left home at age fourteen to join the United States Army. Upon release from the Army in 1948, Keller moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he began working for the city government on a home improvement project. Hired by Restoration in 1967, the year of its incorporation, Keller quickly advanced to hold the vice presidency of Restoration's for-profit subsidiary corporation, and assumed responsibility for the construction of Restoration's 300,000-square-foot corporate headquarters -- which comprised the Restoration offices along with a Pathmark Supermarket, the Billie Holiday Theatre, and 800 units of affordable housing. In his fifty-year career, Keller gained prominence as a respected general contractor, construction manager, and real estate development consultant notable for breaking racial barriers in the New York City construction industry. After leaving Restoration, Keller founded the Brisa Builders Corporation. He died in 2015.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Thomas Keller speaks with his colleague and friend, Wendell Rice. Keller recounts his early start with Restoration, which he joined in the year of its incorporation. Keller describes the thirty-year evolution of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, which was heavily influenced by Restoration's social, cultural, and economic interventions. Keller lists people he considers indispensable leaders in the founding and direction of Restoration and the Bedford-Stuyvesant community as a whole. At the interview's end, Keller envisions his hopes for the neighborhood's future, including increased home ownership, well-worn pathways to higher education -- including college and vocational training -- and support for young entrepreneurs. Interview conducted by Wendell Rice.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Keller, Thomas B.
  • Thomas, Franklin A.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. Center for Art and Culture
  • Billie Holiday Theatre

Subject Topics

  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Knox, Elexux, 2008 May

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Subject Names

  • Knox, Elexux

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. Center for Art and Culture
  • Youth Arts Academy

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Lalanne, Martine, 2008 February 22

Biographical / Historical

Martine Lalanne is a resident of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Her teenage daughter has danced with Restoration's Dance Theater Junior Company (part of Restoration's Youth Arts Academy) for over seven years.

Scope and Contents

In this telephone interview, Martine Lalanne describes the impact Restoration's Dance Theater Junior Company has had on her daughter's life. She discusses the program's emphasis on community-building and positive role-modeling for children, and her hopes for its future. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Keller, Thomas B.
  • Lalanne, Martine

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. Center for Art and Culture
  • Youth Arts Academy

Subject Topics

  • Dancers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Girls -x Education (Secondary) -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Performing arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Lanier, Elania, 2008 May

Biographical / Historical

Introduced to Restoration at age twelve, Elania Lanier's involvement with Restoration began in the 1980s. At the time of the 2008 interview, Lanier had recently received her master's degree in social work and juggled her new career with volunteer work at Restoration. She was also raising her teenage daughter, Kourtney Charles, who danced with the Youth Arts Academy's Dance Theater Junior Company. Additionally for Restoration, Lanier volunteered with the annual Kwanzaa celebrations and the annual Robert F. Kennedy party, and was the lead volunteer for the Dance Africa program.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Elania Lanier describes her connection to Restoration, as well as changes she's observed both at Restoration and with the community in the greater Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. She discusses the positive impact Restoration's Youth Arts Academy (YAA) has had on her daughter, Kourtney Charles, and the YAA as a holistic support network for both youth and their parents. She compares Restoration with other cultural institutions. Lanier relates her fears for gentrification and displacement in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Interview conducted by Peggy Alston.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Lanier, Elania

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. Center for Art and Culture
  • Billie Holiday Theatre
  • Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (New York, N.Y.)
  • Youth Arts Academy

Subject Topics

  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Dancers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Performing arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Latif, Wadiya, 2008 January 7

Biographical / Historical

Wadiya Latif was born in 1947 in Brooklyn, New York. She grew up in the Crown Heights and Flatbush neighborhoods of Brooklyn, where she worshipped at the Presbyterian church, and attended P.S. 167, Walt Whitman Junior High, and Erasmus Hall High School. Both of Latif's parents were school teachers; her father rose to serve as the superintendent after whom Brooklyn's Walter Weaver Elementary School (P.S. 398) was named. Latif attended the historically Black Hampton University (also her mother's alma mater). As an adult Latif became employed at Restoration in January 1971, when its headquarters were still located at the Hotel Grenada. At the time of the interview, Latif worked as Restoration's commercial leasing manager with responsibility for Restoration Plaza.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Wadiya Latif, a long-time employee of Restoration, shares memories from Restoration's earliest years. She remembers the Home Improvement Program and the mortgage pool, officially named the Restoration Funding Corporation. Latif recalls Restoration's loss of funding from the Special Impact Program, and describes the organization's evolving goals as it navigated a new reality of reduced federal funding, including a period of layoffs. Latif recounts the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn's culture circa 1971, an accidental shooting that left her son paralyzed, her conversion to Sunni Islam, and discusses the lives of her three children. At the interview's end, Latif reflects on the importance of voting and healthy political leaders, particularly at the highest levels of government. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Latif, Wadiyah

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Hampton University (Va.)

Subject Topics

  • Activism
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -y 20th century
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Conversion -- Islam
  • Fundraising -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Nonprofit organi-ations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Presidents -- United States -x Election -y 2008

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Lewis, Stuart, 2008 January 30

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Stuart Lewis was born in Jamaica and immigrated to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1961, when he was a young boy. In 1974 he graduated from Harvard Medical School. Dr. Lewis practiced surgery in Brooklyn before becoming the Medical Director for the New York City Transit Authority, where he served for thirteen years. At the time of the interview, Dr. Lewis held a private practice. Prior to starting medical school, Dr. Lewis helped found Youth in Action, a youth anti-poverty organization. From 1966 to 1969 he was the Director of the Neighborhood Youth Corps, a component of Youth in Action. A longstanding community organizer and philanthropist, he served as the Chairman of the Board of Restoration from 1997 to 2000.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Dr. Stuart Lewis describes his personal activist mission, his interest in capital formation and the eradication of poverty, the economic state of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and greater Brooklyn, and his time with Youth in Action in the 1960s. He discusses the initial division in duties between Restoration and the Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation, and reviews why his last act as Chairman merged the two divisions. He tells the history of Weeksville and its discovery. Lewis recounts the African American contributions to a diverse community and states the role of arts and culture in society. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Inniss, Charles E.
  • Lewis, Stuart, Dr.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth in Action
  • Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community development, Urban -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Philanthropists -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

London, Ashley, 2008 May

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Subject Names

  • London, Ashley

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Youth Arts Academy

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Long, Hardy Joe, 2008 May 13

Biographical / Historical

Hardy Joe Long, a longtime businessman and community pillar of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, was the owner of the Burdell's store (which he'd purchased in 1968), and served as president of the Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, the businessman Hardy Joe Long recounts his role in the community of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn as a merchant and active participant in the Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association. He enumerates different changes he's seen in the community over the past over fifty years, including racial mixing, economic development, and a cultural renaissance. Long lists different contributions heralded by Restoration, including support for small businesses via the backing of the Merchants Association. He tells of an impoverished childhood in North Carolina, and the ambition that drove him to own a business in New York City -- a dream that was enabled by Restoration's revolving loan fund. At the interview's end, Long details the Merchants Association's campaign to establish the Bedford-Stuyvesant Gateway Business Improvement District. Interview conducted by Bernadette Mitchell.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Grannum, Colvin W.
  • Long, Hardy Joe

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association

Subject Topics

  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community development, Urban -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Enterprise -ones -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Entrepreneurship -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

McRae, Bernice, 2008 April 11

Biographical / Historical

Bernice McCrae grew up in Georgia and moved to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn as a young adult. She was a long-time employee of Restoration. At the time of the 2008 interview, she had worked there for thirty years, and held the position of director of small business services, where she worked in consulting would-be local entrepreneurs about business ownership, and mentored them through the loan application process for the Restoration revolving loan fund.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Bernice McCrae recalls her start at Restoration and subsequent move to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. A Restoration employee for over thirty years, McCrae says Restoration is the only true employer she's ever had. McCrae describes three decades of the neighborhood's evolution; much of it greatly influenced by the social, cultural, and economic interventions spearheaded by Restoration. In great detail, she discusses her position in Restoration's small business loan foundation, capital fund, and entrepreneurship education. Interview conducted by Bahati Williams.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • McRae, Bernice

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association

Subject Topics

  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Discrimination in mortgage loans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Enterprise -ones -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Entrepreneurship -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Mitchell, Roderick, 2008 January 28

Biographical / Historical

Roderick "Rocky" Mitchell grew up in Yanceyville, North Carolina. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1977 and a master's degree in business administration from Columbia University in 1981. Mitchell joined Restoration as controller, then served as vice president of physical development. At thirty-two years old, Mitchell took helm of the presidency in 1988, after an era of budget cuts spearheaded by United States President Ronald Reagan left the community development corporation on the verge of insolvency. Mitchell resigned from the presidency of Restoration in 2000, after public criticism and news coverage in papers such as The New York Times. Mitchell served as president for twelve years; as of 2008 that was the longest presidential tenure in Restoration's history.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Roderick "Rocky" Mitchell provides his brief biography, and details his introduction to Restoration. Mitchell spends a portion of the interview praising and thanking colleagues, board members, and financial donors who were influential in his tenure's successes. Mitchell alleges that his presidency's great achievement was its transition from being largely government supported to being mostly independently funded. He says the era of traditional community development corporations, which survive by "government largesse" have died, and proposes the necessity that such non-profits be run with the ethos and discipline of for-profit companies. Mitchell touches on other accomplishments, including profitable ventures with Pathmark, which funded a donation to the Weeksville Heritage Center. Interview conducted by Clarence Stewart with Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Mitchell, Roderick

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History

Subject Topics

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Economic conditions -y 21st century
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community development, Urban -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Nonprofit organi-ations -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Pei, I.M., 2008 February 22

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Subject Names

  • Pei, I. M.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Pickman, James, 2008 January 14

Biographical / Historical

James Pickman, born 1942, served as general counsel to Restoration in its early years, from 1972 to 1977. Pickman grew up in Queens County, New York and Long Island, New York; after law school, he returned to New York City. Pickman and his wife Elizabeth founded the James and Elizabeth Pickman Foundation, which they used as an outlet for philanthropic giving to Restoration in the decades after Pickman's departure from Restoration. The Pickmans were also active in the Restoration alumni association.

Scope and Contents

In this telephone interview, James Pickman describes his path to serving as Restoration's general counsel during its early years, from 1972 to 1977. Pickman provides brief biographical notes, including on his schooling and early career. He discusses the physical and political climate of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn circa 1972, remembering an area in need of physical rejuvenation, employment opportunities, entrepreneurial incubation, and the repeal of government and business policies that oppressed many of Bedford-Stuvyesant's residents – including redlining. Pickman candidly recalls a segregated and paternalistic relationship between Restoration and its early twin corporation, the Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation. He describes the nature of Board work at Restoration, including cultivating alliances with corporate, lending, and government institutions; and reflects on Restoration's legacy and influence on future community development corporations. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Doar, John
  • Pickman, James
  • Thomas, Franklin A.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Philanthropists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Segregation -- United States

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Politics and government

Ramnauth, David, 2008 May 13

Biographical / Historical

David Ramnauth was the owner of Big Brother's Discount Hardware and Appliance. After immigrating to America in 1975 from the small village of Leguan, Guyana, Ramnauth grew up in Brooklyn and attended P.S. 93.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, David Ramnauth discusses his motivation for starting a business; he says the family's entrepreneurial spirit began in their hometown of Leguan, Guyana, where his mother started a donkey-cart vending venture. Ramnauth says that in America, the Ramnauths turned to licensed street vending to subsidize the high cost of living; but by saving their money, they eventually purchased Big Brother's Discount Hardware and Appliance. Ramnauth discusses the pros and cons of merchants' associations, business improvement districts, and gentrification. Ramnauth tells of his philanthropic philosophy, and reflects on the decline of the American small business. Interview conducted by Bahati Williams.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Dabu, Joel
  • Ramnauth, David

Subject Organizations

  • Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association

Subject Topics

  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Enterprise -ones -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Entrepreneurship -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Rice, Wendell, 2007 August 31

Biographical / Historical

Wendell Rice was born in 1943 in Conway, South Carolina, and moved to Brooklyn, New York City after graduating high school in 1961. While Rice's initial ambition was to operate bulldozers, he was stymied by racial discrimination. After a number of odd jobs led to disappointment and Rice was the victim of an armed robbery, he became involved with Restoration's community organizer training program. Rice's career was spent with Restoration, and he saw many of its hallmark programs come to fruition, including rezoned superblocks, programs in youth enrichment, and the Weatherization Assistance Program of which Rice served as director. Rice holds a bachelor's degree in sociology and political science from Brooklyn College. He has two adult children.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Wendell Rice describes his early career, including experiences with racial discrimination within city employment in the 1960s; and his path to employment with Restoration. He recalls prime moments in his career as a community organizer, including his essential involvement with the superblocks program to rezone urban residential streets. He details work as a youth organizer, including the removal of heroin addicts from neighborhood streets, and the education of children at risk of gang affiliation. Near the interview's end, Rice explains the Weatherization Assistance Program, including its mission, customers, day-to-day operations, and technology-centric future. Interview conducted by Brian Purnell.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Inniss, Charles E.
  • Keller, Thomas B.
  • Rice, Wendell
  • Thomas, Franklin A.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community development, Urban -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Richardson, Elsie, 2008 January 22

Biographical / Historical

Elsie Richardson was born in Manhattan in 1922 and grew up in the East Harlem neighborhood known as "El Barrio." Richardson moved to Brooklyn in 1946, around the time of her wedding, and lived with her family in the Albany Projects before settling in a long-term home on Prospect Place. A public school secretary by day, Richardson was otherwise an engaged community leader who co-founded the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council (CBCC) and was essential in the creation of the nation's first non-profit community development corporation, Restoration. In February 1966, Richardson led Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Jacob Javits on the famous tour of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, which resulted in the formation of Restoration. Richardson held a bachelor's degree from Pratt Institute and a master's degree from the New School for Social Research. She had three children. Elsie Richardson died in Brooklyn in 2012.

Scope and Contents

In part one of the interview, Elsie Richardson discusses the founding of the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council (CBCC) in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. She recalls the 1966 walking tour of Bedford-Stuyvesant with Senators Kennedy and Javits, a key event in the formation of Restoration. She remembers Restoration's early years, including the initial cleavage between Restoration and the Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation. Richardson reminisces about the archaeological discovery of the town of Weeksville, a post-slavery African American settlement in Brooklyn. She offers thoughts on today's school system and youth culture, as well as life in Brooklyn circa the 1960s. Richardson's granddaughter and great grandson join the conversation in later moments. The last few minutes comprise part two, conducted via telephone. Richardson shares behind-the-scenes classism and sexism at the time of Restoration's founding. Interview conducted by Deborah Jones with Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Kennedy, Robert F.
  • Richardson, Elsie
  • Rose, Lucille
  • Thomas, Franklin A.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -y 20th century
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban renewal -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Robinson, Annette, 2008 February 1

Biographical / Historical

Assemblywoman Annette Robinson was born in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan and raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. She received both her bachelor's and master's degrees from New Hampshire College. A member of the Democratic Party, much of Robinson's adult life was spent in public service. In 1977, she was elected to the Community School Board of District 16, where she served three terms. She served six years in the administration of former New York City comptroller Harrison J. Goldin, and afterward became the District Director for U.S. Congressman Major R. Owens. Robinson was elected to the New York City Council in 1991 as a representative of the 36th district; and in 2002 assumed office in the New York State Assembly. There she represented District 56, which includes most of Bedford-Stuyvesant, along with the Crown Heights and Bushwick neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Robinson had six children and was married for over fifty years to William Robinson (deceased).

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Assemblywoman Annette Robinson speaks of her long ties to Restoration, and the impact it's had on the local community. She reminisces about the idyllic Bedford-Stuyvesant of her youth, during a time when the community was protective of its children, and neighbors closely watched community goings-on. Robinson describes the necessity of programs that increase children's sense of self-worth and personal expectations, particularly those in the arts and education, and workforce development and jobs training for teenagers. Robinson maintains close ties with a number of international municipalities; for instance in Brazil, Panama, and South Africa. She describes the importance of cooperative learning programs in uncovering novel solutions to shared problems. At the interview's end, Robinson reflects on her motivations as a politician, and reveals that her original life dream was to be a professional dancer. Interview conducted by Bahati Williams.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Robinson, Annette (Annette M.)
  • Vann, Albert

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community development, Urban -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Enterprise -ones -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brazil
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Politics and government
  • New York (State) |x Politics and government
  • South Africa

Robinson, James, 2008 January 15

Biographical / Historical

James Robinson was born in 1937 and moved to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn circa 1944, when Robinson was seven years old; he attended local Brooklyn public schools. In the mid-1960s, Robinson first encountered Restoration when Robinson served as the Director of Urban Renewal of Fulton Park. In 1978, when Restoration's vice president of physical development, James E. Shipp, stepped down, Robinson was retained as Shipp's successor. Robinson served as the vice president of physical development into the early 1980s.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, James Robinson recites the many roles of Restoration in the community of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Robinson says Restoration's successes in community development are evident in the gentrification that has swept through the neighborhood, but voices dismay at the displacement this has caused for some indigenous residents. Robinson describes an idyllic Brooklyn childhood, with public school students competitive for grades in the classroom and for points on the playground; and remembers teachers comporting themselves with authority and dignity, and a time when parents commanded respect. Robinson details his first interactions with Restoration and his eventual position as its vice president of physical development (succeeding James E. Shipp). He lists key leaders, community organizations, and funding organizations who helped during his tenure, and names a number of accomplishments of which he believes Restoration should be proud. He describes the practice of redlining, saying Restoration combatted the practice, making it easier for residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant to get loans. Robinson says physical development alone is not sufficient in a community's development, but should be accompanied by arts education, cultural activities, and encouragement for entrepreneurs. Interview conducted by Doris Rowley-Hoyte.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Robinson, James E.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. Center for Art and Culture
  • Billie Holiday Theatre
  • Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Sanford, Adelaide, 2008 January 24

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Regent Adelaide Sanford, born in 1925, was a career educator notable for her fiery defense of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn's African American students, and her unanimous election to the Board of Regents of the State University of New York. Sanford received her BeD degree from Brooklyn College in 1947, and her MeD degree from Wellesley College in 1950. After fifteen years as a school teacher in New York City's elementary schools, Sanford became assistant principal, and later principal, at Crispus Attucks School in Brooklyn. She earned her PhD degree from Fordham University in 1967. Sanford won unanimous election to the Board of Regents of the State University of New York in 1986. Throughout her tenure, Sanford's interest lay primarily in elevating the achievements and standards of low-performing schools.

Scope and Contents

In this four-hour interview, Dr. Regent Adelaide Sanford discusses her life's history, beginning with her recollection of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1930s and during the Great Depression, and recounts a number of personal stories involving segregation and Jim Crow laws. Sanford recalls the foundation of Restoration, including its early effects on the neighborhood's African American citizens. Throughout the interview, Sanford openly discusses her personal opinions about the state of race in America in 2008, her achievements as an activist, and the reasons she was particularly successful. She shares her thoughts on her tenure with the Board of Regents, Ebonics in schools, the 2008 U.S. presidential election, and corruption in politics. Sanford discusses her personal life; her courtship and marriage, her diagnosis of and treatment for breast cancer, her affection for the African country of Ghana (where she was crowned a Queen Mother), and her Christian religious beliefs. Interview conducted by Laurie Cumbo and Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Sanford, Adelaide

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • University of the State of New York

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • African diaspora
  • Black nationalism -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -y 20th century
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education
  • Museums
  • Religion -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Segregation -- United States

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • United States |x History

Shiffman, Ronald, 2008 February 4

Biographical / Historical

Ron Shiffman was born in 1938 in Israel. His parents had immigrated to Israel from Russia after his father was imprisoned in a Siberian gulag for his expression of Zionist political views. Shiffman's parents later immigrated to the Bronx borough of New York City, where Shiffman grew up. Shiffman graduated from Pratt Institute's School of Architecture, and later its School of Urban Planning. In 1964, Shiffman co-founded the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development (now known as the Pratt Center for Community Development). In 1965, Shiffman, in partnership with the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, conceived and launched the first community development corporation, known today as the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. In 2012, Shiffman won the Jane Jacobs medal for Lifetime Achievement from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Ron Shiffman remembers the nascence of what became Restoration. He provides background information, tells of its involvement with the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council, which spearheaded its initial plan, and their fated introduction to U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Shiffman recounts Kennedy's historic tour of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn; the founding of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Renewal and Rehabilitation Corporation and the schism that birthed Restoration. Shiffman provides his opinion on the role that racism, sexism, and classism played in Bedford-Stuyvesant politics of the 1960s. Shiffman discusses the problems with reliance on federal funding for community development corporations (CDCs), and discusses Restoration's succession of presidents, noting their individual legacies. Shiffman discusses his work as a consultant to CDCs worldwide, particularly in South Africa. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan with Kate Fermoile.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Kennedy, Robert F.
  • Shiffman, Ron

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Pratt Institute

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Black nationalism -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • City planning -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community development, Urban -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Politics and government
  • South Africa

Shipp, James, 2008 January 11

Biographical / Historical

James E. Shipp (born 1941) grew up in Illinois, where he attended high school and graduated with a bachelor's degree from Western Illinois University in 1964. He earned a master's degree in city and regional planning from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and a master's degree in urban studies from Occidental College. After his studies, Shipp worked as a youth gang counselor in Chicago's juvenile justice system, where he developed an interest in community economic development as a way to fight juvenile delinquency. Shipp's involvement in a Ford Foundation-funded training program led to a mentorship under Franklin Thomas, and eventually to his role with Restoration in Brooklyn. Shipp served as Restoration's first vice president, from its inception in 1969 through 1979. After leaving Restoration, Shipp served as the chief executive officer of Cummins Metropower, the distribution and service arm of Cummins Engine Company, a manufacturer of diesel engines.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, James E. Shipp provides a short biography of his professional career, beginning with his time as a youth gang counselor in Chicago's juvenile justice system. He describes the realization that juvenile delinquency is caused by dysfunctional community systems, and his determination to build healthier urban communities. Shipp details his path to Restoration; laying out Restoration's essential role and functions. Shipp details Restoration's evolution as an institution, lists its successes in human and capital investment, and advocates for the confinement of its activities to housing renovation and commercial development. At the interview's end, Shipp reflects on Restoration's legacy and major successes, and gives an optimistic prognosis of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn's economic future. Interview conducted by Judith Anglin.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Shipp, James E.
  • Thomas, Franklin A.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Economic conditions -y 21st century
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Discrimination in mortgage loans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Mortgages -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Solano, Juan, 2008 May 15

Biographical / Historical

Juan Solano, born 1952, was the proprietor and optician at Solano Optical. Solano's first job out of high school was as a shipping clerk for a local optician. From age eighteen to age forty, Solano worked at a large variety of optical retailers, where he learned the business, eventually earning his bachelor's degree and becoming a licensed optician. At the age of forty-two, Solano and his wife took a second mortgage on their home, and used the money to open the first Solano Optical. At the time of the 2008 interview, Solano and his wife had recently purchased their own building, which included a storefront and residential rental property.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Juan Solano, owner of Solano Optical, reflects on his personal journey as an entrepreneur, which began with his first job as a shipping clerk at an optician's office and ended with the purchase of a mixed-use building which provided Solano a stable storefront, residential rental income, and a family home. At some points, Solano becomes emotional as he describes his experiences, including ups and downs such as the loss of five different stores due to rising rents, non-renewed leases, and recession. Solano describes the United States healthcare system as broken, citing the managed care system as a chief example. He speaks at length about his own lenses, which are transition bifocals. Solano voices his experiences with major crime: scuffles with illegal vendors of counterfeit and stolen goods; being victimized by gang activity; and suffering an armed robbery. Near the interview's end, Solano discusses the perks of membership in the Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association and other forms of leadership in the local business community. In the final minutes, Solano intolerantly refers to the nearby Hasidic Jewish community. Interview conducted by Bahati Williams.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Solano, Juan

Subject Organizations

  • Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association
  • Solano Optical Boutique Ltd

Subject Topics

  • Bankruptcy -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Enterprise -ones -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Entrepreneurship -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Medical care -- United States
  • Storefronts -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Southerland, Eva, 2008 May 5

Biographical / Historical

A native of Florida, Eva Southerland's eleven-year tenure of employment with Restoration began in 1968, and capped off her life's career in non-profits. While employed by Restoration, Southerland worked in a number of different departments, including administration, finance, development, and outreach. At the time of the 2008 interview, Southerland had retired and lived in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn with her husband, John Southerland.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Eva Southerland describes her early life in Florida, her move to New York City, and eventual move to Brooklyn in search of affordable housing. She details her career in non-profits. Southerland recalls the positions she served at Restoration, its work culture, and the organization after the retirement of corporation president Franklin Thomas. She shares her thoughts on Restoration's longevity; discusses its outreach programming for housing, children, and arts education; and evaluates its impact on the community of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Kennedy, Robert F.
  • Southerland, Eva
  • Thomas, Franklin A.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East Flatbush (New York, N.Y.)

Southerland, John, 2008 May 5

Biographical / Historical

John Southerland, born in 1939 in Sanford, North Carolina, moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 1964 to secure steady employment. He worked in police communication for twenty-seven years before retiring and moonlighting as a private taxi driver. Southerland met his wife, Eva, an employee of Restoration, as he regularly would drive her home in his taxi.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, John Southerland discusses his 1964 relocation from North Carolina to New York City in search of employment and his wife Eva Southerland's involvement with Restoration. Southerland observes the changes to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn; in particular, rising housing costs. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Kennedy, Robert F.
  • Southerland, John
  • Thomas, Franklin A.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth in Action
  • Billie Holiday Theatre

Subject Topics

  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.)

Stanton-Gilkes, Delwyn, 2008 May 14

Biographical / Historical

At the time of the 2008 interview, Delwyn Stanton-Gilkes was the resident African drumming instructor at Restoration's Youth Arts Academy.

Scope and Contents

In this short interview, Delwyn Stanton-Gilkes describes the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn; its residents, culture, and changes -- such as gentrification and racial mixing -- brought on by economic development. He discusses his life's association with Restoration's Youth Arts Academy, and the impact it's had on his life. Interview conducted by Anasa Scott.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Stanton-Gilkes, Delwyn

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Youth Arts Academy

Subject Topics

  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Dancers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Musicians -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Performing arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East Flatbush (New York, N.Y.)

Thomas, Franklin, 2008 February 1

Biographical / Historical

Born in 1934, Franklin Thomas grew up in and attended public schools in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. He attended Columbia University for both undergraduate and law school. After spending four years with the United States Air Force, Thomas' early career was spent as deputy legal counsel for the New York Police Department; this position led to his appointment as the Executive Director of Restoration. Thomas was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ford Foundation from 1979 to 1996.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Franklin Thomas discusses the inception and early years of Restoration. He evaluates the unique nature of Restoration and its ideals as an organization. Thomas judges the importance of community involvement in Restoration specifically and the role of community development corporations. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Shiffman, Ron
  • Thomas, Franklin A.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -y 20th century
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Philanthropists -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Thompson, William C., Sr., 2008 May 5

Biographical / Historical

Honorable William C. Thompson, Sr., born 1924 in New York City, was among the founding members of Restoration. He was the first African American New York State Senator, and served as a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Honorable William C. Thompson, Sr., discusses the founding and earliest days of Restoration. He recalls his colleagues Franklin Thomas and Robert F. Kennedy. Justice Thompson evaluates the difference between Restoration and other community organizations (namely, that Restoration did not operate under the aegis of the Office of Economic Opportunity). He recounts Restoration's efforts in job creation and describes changes occurring in Brooklyn and the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, circa 2008. At the interview's end, Thompson reminisces about his early life and the Brooklyn neighborhoods he has called home, including Brooklyn Heights. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Javits, Jacob K. (Jacob Koppel)
  • Kennedy, Robert F.
  • Thomas, Franklin A.
  • Thompson, William C., Sr., Hon.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth in Action

Subject Topics

  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Economic conditions |y 20th century
  • Manhattan (New York, N.Y.)

Valdes, Patricia, 2008 May 15

Biographical / Historical

Patricia Valdes worked as a coordinator for the Board of Elections at a senior citizens' site. While working one Election Day, Valdes learned of Restoration's Weatherization Program, which aids area citizens whose homes are unable to retain heat, or who are unable to afford heating during the wintertime. Because Valdes' home suffered from significant disrepair that made her home dangerous to inhabit, Restoration's Weatherization Program performed home renovations to rectify her situation.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Patricia Valdes and Wendell Rice discuss the substantial repairs performed on Valdes' home by Restoration's Weatherization Program. Valdes details her home's condition prior to repair and discusses her experience with the Weatherization Program, from the application process through the completion of construction. Valdes was unable to afford the repairs, which were appraised at over twenty thousand dollars. Restoration's Weatherization Program performed this work; which included the installation of a new roof, its insulation, removal of her neighbor's chimney which had fallen onto her property, installation of two windows, air sealing, hot-water wrapping, and upgrading of her water boiler. Interview conducted by Wendell Rice.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Valdes, Patricia

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • Buildings -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Maintenance and repair
  • Home economics -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Home ownership -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Vann, Albert, 2008 April 10

Biographical / Historical

Albert Vann was born in 1934 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. At age eighteen, Vann joined the United States Marine Corps, eventually rising to the rank of sergeant. After leaving the military, Vann earned bachelor's and Toledo master's degrees in the field of education. Originally an educator, Vann's career has included service as both teacher and administrator in Brooklyn public schools, and founding of the African American Teachers Association. At the time of the 2008 interview, Vann was a member of the New York City Council, representing the 36th Council District (which includes parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant), and was a thirty-year Assemblyman of the New York City Council. A Democrat, Vann catalyzed two major court cases which helped to expand minority representation in New York government. He was also one of the founders of the City University of New York's Medgar Evers College.

Scope and Contents

In this first of two interviews, Albert Vann details his early career as an educator, his start as a school teacher, and rise into administration. He describes his involvement in the "civil rights movement of education," founding the Negro Teacher's Association (now the African American Teacher's Association), organizing Black teachers, and involving parents. He discusses his personal political history, his relationship to Restoration as an elected official and community member, and funding sources and problems with funding. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Kennedy, Robert F.
  • Thomas, Franklin A.
  • Vann, Albert

Subject Organizations

  • New York (N.Y.). City Council
  • New York (State). Legislature

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Black nationalism -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -y 20th century
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • New York (State) |x Politics and government
  • United States |x History

Vann, Albert, 2008 April 22

Biographical / Historical

Albert Vann was born in 1934 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. At age eighteen, Vann joined the United States Marine Corps, eventually rising to the rank of sergeant. After leaving the military, Vann earned bachelor's and Toledo master's degrees in the field of education. Originally an educator, Vann's career has included service as both teacher and administrator in Brooklyn public schools, and founding of the African American Teachers Association. At the time of the 2008 interview, Vann was a member of the New York City Council, representing the 36th Council District (which includes parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant), and was a thirty-year Assemblyman of the New York City Council. A Democrat, Vann catalyzed two major court cases which helped to expand minority representation in New York government. He was also one of the founders of the City University of New York's Medgar Evers College.

Scope and Contents

In this second of two interviews, Albert Vann recounts the 1960s-era Civil Rights Movement and his decision to found the Negro Teachers Association (now the African American Teachers Association). Vann remembers the founding of Restoration. He notes the institution's legacy programming; housing, social outreach, education, jobs training, and physical development services. Vann describes the 2008-era Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn as so entrenched in income inequality that it is almost "like two cities," and remarks on the difficulties of presiding over an area of distinct income inequality. Vann lists female political leaders who've influenced his life, details his start in politics, describes his electoral base, and comments on his first few years in elected office. At the interview's end, Vann provides some insight into his family's background and remarks on his personal life. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Richardson, Elsie
  • Vann, Albert

Subject Organizations

  • African-American Teachers Association
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (State). Legislature

Subject Topics

  • Civil rights movements -- United States -y 20th century
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Politics and government
  • New York (N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • United States |x History

Walsh, Robert, 2008 May 15

Biographical / Historical

Robert Walsh was born in 1959, one of seven children in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. After an early childhood in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, Walsh moved with his family to the small Upstate town of Amenia, in New York's Dutchess County. Walsh returned to New York City to attend Fordham University, where he received a bachelor's degree in political science and a Master's of Public Affairs, and began a career in public service. He worked in New York City mayor Ed Koch's administration from 1981 to 1989, which he left to lead the Union Square Partnership, a public-private business improvement collaboration credited for revitalizing the neighborhood. At the time of the interview, Walsh was the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), a position he took on in January 2002 and left in 2013. During his tenure, the SBS provided services for New York City's 220,000 small businesses.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Robert Walsh, then-Commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), discusses his personal history as a resident of Brooklyn and civil servant, noting biographer Jack Newfield's memoir of Robert Kennedy as particularly influential in Walsh's own life. He notes collaborative projects of the SBS and Restoration. Walsh notes past work experiences that prepared him for work in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, including his time leading the Union Square Partnership; and cites 2008-era evidence of revitalization, and says his role is to encourage entrepreneurship and public-private cooperation. He reflects on the sometimes tense relationship between urban renewal, gentrification, displacement, and affordable housing. Walsh discusses a number of public-sector vehicles for neighborhood improvement, including new market tax credits, subsidies, and capital investment. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Kennedy, Robert F.
  • Walsh, Robert W.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • New York (N.Y.). Department of Small Business Services

Subject Topics

  • Affordable housing
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Cultural facilities -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Enterprise -ones -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Entrepreneurship -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social justice -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban renewal -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Watkins, Thomas H., 2008 January 29

Biographical / Historical

Thomas H. Watkins was born in 1927, in the New York metropolitan area, and moved with his family to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn when Watkins was two years old. Watkins came from a politically interested family; his grandfather, the attorney Glen Jones, argued before Congress for federal protections for Black Americans from lynching. Watkins' career began at The New York Amsterdam News, the city's oldest Black newspaper. In 1952, Watkins founded his first weekly newspaper, the  Afro Times. In 1972, Watkins founded his flagship paper, the  New York Daily Challenge, a daily newspaper distributed city-wide, which was also New York City's first and only Black daily newspaper. The publication's corporate offices stood in Restoration Plaza, home of Restoration. An unabashed capitalist, Watkins founded the   Daily Challenge as a way to route Black New Yorkers' newspaper monies into a paper owned by, written by, and catering to other Black New Yorkers.

Scope and Contents

Thomas H. Watkins, founder, owner, and publisher of the New York Daily Challenge, begins this interview with a short history of each of his three newspapers. He shares his views on the value of entrepreneurship for Black residents of Brooklyn, including the power to uplift from poverty. He remembers the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn of his youth, noting the relationship between churches, education, and social mobility. Watkins discusses Bedford-Stuyvesant's history of community activism, and shares historical details from the actions of the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council, the founding of Restoration, and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. He expounds upon the importance of First Amendment rights and press freedoms, and the relationship between marketing and the media. He shares his disdain for both public and parochial school systems, citing racism as one of its endemic problems. In conclusion, Watkins shares his prognosis of Restoration's legacy and his hopes for its future. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Kennedy, Robert F.
  • Richardson, Elsie
  • Watkins, Thomas H.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Daily Challenge, Inc

Subject Topics

  • Business enterprises -x African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -y 20th century
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Entrepreneurship -x African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Newspaper publishing -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Economic conditions

Westbrooks, Aricka, 2008 April 15

Biographical / Historical

Aricka Westbrooks, born 1970, was the Chief Executive Officer and President of Jive Turkey, a quick-order restaurant that specialized in deep-fried turkey, located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. At the time of the 2008 interview, the restaurant had been open for five years. Jive Turkey was Westbrooks' first business; prior to her entrance into entrepreneurship, she worked in fashion public relations. Westbrooks' business was enabled by support from Restoration's revolving loan capital fund. Westbrooks served on the board of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, and was active in the local merchants' association.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Aricka Westbrooks describes the process she went through to finance her quick order fried turkey restaurant, which was enabled through Restoration's revolving capital fund. She describes her current work as an entrepreneur, and imagines what she might have done if she hadn't received a Restoration small business loan. Interview conducted by Bahati Williams.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Westbrooks, Aricka

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community development, Urban -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Entrepreneurship -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Fundraising -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Restaurants -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Weston, Randy, 2008 January 22

Biographical / Historical

Randy Weston was born in New York City in 1926. A celebrated American jazz pianist, composer, and band leader, he grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. After serving in the United States Army during World War II, Weston's jazz career took off as be began playing with national jazz figures. In 2001 he received a National Endowment for the Arts lifetime honor as a Jazz Master.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Randy Weston remembers his first performance at the Billie Holiday Theatre. He discusses the importance of music in African-American history. Weston recalls a number of influential musicians he has known and collaborated with throughout his life. He identifies several musicians and family members in a photograph, as well as a poster from a performance at the Billie Holiday Theatre. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Weston, Randy

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Musicians -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Popular music -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Williams, David, 2008 May 12

Biographical / Historical

David Joseph Williams, aged eighteen, of the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, had studied at Restoration's Youth Arts Academy since the age of five. An enthusiastic student of African drum teacher Delwyn Stanton-Gilkes, he performed throughout the five boroughs of New York City and in Guinea, West Africa. At the time of the 2008 interview, Williams was still attending drum class despite having passed the age limit in addition to being a student at Medgar Evers Middle College High School.

Scope and Contents

In this short interview, David Williams describes his involvement with Restoration's Youth Arts Academy, where he is a student of African drums. Williams discusses the impact arts education has had on his life, and reflects on arts programming in general. He talks about changes he's seen in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn and recalls his move several miles south to East Flatbush. Interview conducted by Anasa Scott.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Stanton-Gilkes, Delwyn
  • Williams, David Joseph

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Youth Arts Academy

Subject Topics

  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Music education
  • Musicians -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Performing arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Winborne, Wayne, 2008 January 16

Biographical / Historical

Wayne C. Winborne (born 1959) grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia to a father who worked in the shipyards, and was educated at Stanford University and New York University. After graduating college, Winborne moved to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn to perform community development for inner-city youth. From his perch in Brooklyn, Winborne became involved with both Restoration and the Ford Foundation. In 2003, Winborne joined Restoration's Board of Directors. At the time of the 2008 interview, Winborne was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Restoration and a vice president of business diversity outreach at Prudential Financial. In 2015, Winborne become the executive director of Rutgers University's Institute of Jazz Studies.

Scope and Contents

Wayne C. Winborne begins this interview with a discussion of the socio-economic difficulties faced by inner-city African Americans, and reflects on the roles of economic development and cultural education in eradicating the cycle of poverty. Winborne describes his own ambitious youth; including his education at Stanford University and his move to Brooklyn, New York, where he developed youth programs. He details his path to serving as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Restoration. Winborne describes cultural changes in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn since 1988, many of them ushered in by Restoration. Winborne speaks of an era of financial difficulty, and shares his views on necessary financial and programming measures. At the interview's end, Winborne lists members of Restoration's Board of Directors who have enriched his life, and expresses his enthusiasm for Restoration's next forty years. Interview conducted by Jako Borren.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Grannum, Colvin W.
  • Winborne, Wayne

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Nonprofit organi-ations -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Young, Lester, Jr., 2008 January 31

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Lester Young, Jr., EdD, was a career educator born and raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. His professional experience includes time served as a teacher, guidance counselor, supervisor of special education, elementary school principal, and the Associate Commissioner with the New York State Education Department. At the time of the 2008 interview, Dr. Young was a visiting professor at Long Island University's Graduate School of Education and a contributor to Restoration.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Dr. Lester Young, Jr. discusses his current connection and involvement with Restoration and its role in the African-American civil rights movement. Young talks about housing affordability, gentrification, and his concerns for the future of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. He looks at the role of arts education in young peoples' lives. Young recalls his own public school education and his training as a young educator in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Young also speaks about school violence and solutions. He focuses on Restoration's roles in shutting down the "prison pipeline" for young Black men and enabling "total" human development; spanning jobs, arts, housing, education, and emotional maturity. He remembers the role his father, the famous jazz musician Lester Young, had on his life. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Young, Lester
  • Young, Lester, Jr., Dr.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Billie Holiday Theatre
  • Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -y 20th century
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Educators -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Musicians
  • Theater -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x History

Restoration Homeowners, 2008 February 21

Biographical / Historical

Adrienne G. Haskell grew up in Queens, New York City. Restoration's mortgage lottery enabled Haskell to purchase her first home in March of 2007.

Avery Beard is a school teacher who grew up in Washington, D.C. Restoration's mortgage program and Housing and Urban Development subsidies enabled Beard to purchase her first home.

Dionne Wyckoff grew up on Manhattan's Upper West Side. She purchased her first home through Restoration's home ownership program.

Scope and Contents

In this trio of interviews, three narrators who purchased their first homes with aid from Restoration's home ownership program discuss the process of purchasing their homes. They describe their neighborhood in Brooklyn as entering the beginning phases of gentrification. The narrators also discuss their relationship with Restoration. Interviews conducted by Bahati Williams.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Home ownership -x Social aspects -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

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