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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

Simon, Cecil, 2010 March 24

Biographical / Historical

Cecil Simon was born in Guyana in 1961. He arrived in Brooklyn, with six siblings and his mother, in 1975 and lived on Carroll Street and Franklin Avenue in the Crown Heights neighborhood. Simon attended Paul Robeson High School when it was still named after Alexander Hamilton. After serving a twenty year jail sentence, he returned to Brooklyn. He was unemployed and living at Park Place and Nostrand Avenue as of 2010.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Cecil Simon speaks about moving to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights from Guyana. Later, he returns to the topic of immigration in relation to friction with other nationalities and challenges with job placement. Simon has some knowledge about the gangs operating in Brooklyn in the late 1970s and discusses how they affected his high school years. He reflects on his time at Alexander Hamilton High School and in general, appreciates the differences in teenagers then and now. He makes his observations of the changing demographics of Crown Heights. Simon speaks about his personal role model, his older brother. He also shares lessons that life has taught him, advises teenagers of this era and ends on a quote from Langston Hughes. Interview conducted by Monica Parfait, Ansie Montilus, Quanaisha Phillips, 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

  • Hughes, Langston
  • Simon, Cecil

Subject Organizations

  • Paul Robeson High School (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • African American neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Blacks -- Race identity
  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Courtesy -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gangs -- New York (State) -- Kings Country
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Guyana
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration