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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

Mills, Randolph, 2010 April 7

Biographical / Historical

Randy Mills was born in 1930 in rural North Carolina. A grandson of a tobacco farmer, his family raised and farmed all of their own food. In his teens, he and his brother joined his already-settled parents in New York City. He got work there at his first job; selling at a fruit stand. As an adult, Mills married in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. The couple's first home at 363 New York Avenue was robbed, so they moved to St. John's Place and Underhill Avenue, and later Rogers Avenue and Crown Street. Mills is a father to two daughters and a son, and worked six or seven days a week as a truck driver. At the time of the interview in 2010, he was residing at the Marcus Garvey Nursing Home.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Randy Mills covers basic information about his family and places he has lived in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and Prospect Heights. He broadly describes the factors leading to the 1991 riot in Crown Heights and fondly remembers the excitement of the West Indian Carnival on past Labor Days. Mills recalls playing ball games as a younger man, which led to playing Dominoes in front of Brooklyn storefronts later in life. His recreation was disturbed by drug pushing and one shootout in the area. Mills' rural upbringing of growing food and playing with snakes is contrasted with coming to New York City and mistakenly stealing from a neighborhood fruit stand. He reflects on his marriage and offers relationship advice to young people. Interview conducted by Treverlyn Dehaarte, Floyya Richardson, 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

  • Mills, Randolph

Subject Organizations

  • Marcus Garvey Nursing Home (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- Relations with Jews
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Drug traffic -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Farms
  • Games -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Nursing homes -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Older people -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- United States
  • Riots -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Street vendors -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • North Carolina