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Guide to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories 2008.030

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201

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

Container List

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

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.)