Preserving the African-American Legacy of Brooklyn Neighborhoods

Brownstones in Bedford-Stuyvesant (Photo via Our Time Press)

Brownstones in Bedford-Stuyvesant (Photo via Our Time Press)

What’s the best way for neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights to preserve their African-American legacy? Reporter Stephen Witt of Our Time Press explores this question by talking to long-time residents about the challenges they are facing.

Up and down Tompkins Avenue, for instance, there are visible signs of change.

“We’ve been renting this storefront for the past 12 years and I don’t think the guy that owns the building will sell it, but there is a new real estate agency next to us on the right and another across the street,” said Rev. Nerissa Bradshaw, pastor of the New Beginning Pentecostal Church of God.

Further south along Tompkins Avenue, Common Ground Coffee Shop owner, attorney and lifelong Bed-Stuy resident Tremaine Wright said there are alternatives to selling long-held property despite speculators offering vast amounts of money.

“My grandparents came here in the 40s and a part of the conversation is how (longtime property owners) can become educated to make real estate and property work for them versus believing they must liquidate immediately and relinquish rights in order to cash out,” said Wright.

For some, the solution is “black gentrification” to counter white gentrification, writes Witt, with black middle-income residents providing “racial solidarity.”

But others say that the reality is that black people are being forced out of the borough, and that new solutions have to be devised. For more on how a variety of residents feel, read Stephen Witt’s article.

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