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Guide to the Listen to This: Crown Heights Oral History collection 2010.020

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201

Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion

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

Container List

La Fontaine, Rosella Johnson, 2010 April 19

Biographical / Historical

Rosella Johnson La Fontaine was born in Brooklyn in 1934 and raised in homes on Adelphi Street and on Grand Avenue in the Clinton Hill neighborhood. Her mother was a Virgin Islands national and her father came from Nice, France. In the early 1950s, her family settled in a large house on Park Place at New York Avenue in the Crown Heights neighborhood. La Fontaine campaigned to save the nearby Brooklyn Children's Museum in the late 1960s and '70s and has been a community activist and a champion of community activism. Her home was given landmark status in 2011. La Fontaine died in 2015.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, La Fontaine gives some brief background on her family's residences in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Clinton Hill. She shares her in-depth knowledge of the surrounding buildings and her own home. La Fontaine reflects on the efforts to save the Brooklyn Children's Museum from leaving or closing after challenges from fire and city government intervention. She discusses the area churches and important community leaders such as Reverend Clarence Norman, Sr., Dr. Adrian Edwards, former Assemblyman Karim Camara, Dianne Davis of Garden of Learning Day Care, Ora Abdur-Razzaq, founder and principal of the Cush Campus Schools, and an unheralded citizen, Annie Mae Hearston. La Fontaine returns to describing the architecture of her home and recalls her parents' search for the home. Interview conducted by Monica Parfait, Ansie Montilus and Alex Kelly.

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 the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact

Subject Names

  • Camara, Karim
  • Dinkins, David N.
  • La Fontaine, Rosella Johnson

Subject Organizations

  • Boys' High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn Children's Museum
  • Girls' High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Greene Avenue Baptist Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • African American neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community activists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Historic buildings -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Home ownership -x Social aspects -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Older people -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Clinton Hill (New York, N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)