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Guide to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories 2008.030

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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

Container List

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.)