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Guide to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories 2008.030

Brooklyn Historical Society
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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

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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

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