Commemorating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Letters of Support

Dr. King in his study, Atlanta GA

Dr. King in his study at home in Atlanta, GA

Dear Readers,

Brooklyn Legends is proud to commemorate the life and accomplishments of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dr. King was born on January 15, 1929 at his family home in Atlanta, Georgia.  This year he would celebrate his 87th birthday.

From December 1955 until April 4, 1968, Dr. King was the leader of America’s Civil Rights Movement. By all accounts this was among the most tumultuous periods in our history. Yet despite the many acts of hatred and violence,  Dr. King remained steadfast in his commitment to lead a non-violent campaign. He received support from men and women worldwide.

Here in the United States, there were many who stood with Dr. King and the architects of the Civil Rights Movement. These men and women gave their time, legal and professional services and money. They would join thousands of African-Americans in this fight for equal rights. While today many challenges persist, we cannot deny the progress that was achieved. These life-changing events have shaped my life and my ancestors.

As I was preparing for this post, I spent some time looking through the archives on The King Center’s website. In addition to extensive historical information, there are many photos, letters and telegrams for visitors to see. All information has been digitally preserved through the generosity of JP Morgan Chase. Today I would like to share few letters sent to Dr. King from children thought the world. I have also included a few condolence letters sent to Mrs. King shortly after Dr. King was assassinated.  When you have a moment, I encourage you to visit the site which can be found by following this link.


A student sends greetings on Mahatma Ghandi's birthday

A student in India sends greetings on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday

Students in France requesting an interview of Dr. King

Students in France requesting an interview of Dr. King

A student in Chicago requests information about Dr. King's Church

A student in Chicago requests information about Dr. King’s Church

A student who wants to be a Pediatrician references Dr. King's book "Strength to Love"

A student who wants to be a Pediatrician references Dr. King’s book “Strength to Love”

Via Bauman Rare Books

Via Bauman Rare Books – referenced in Gregory William’s letter to Dr. King.

Letter sent to Mrs. King after Dr. King was killed.

Letter sent to Mrs. King after Dr. King was killed.

Sent to Mrs. King from a student in NYC after Dr. King was killed.

Sent to Mrs. King from a student in NYC after Dr. King was killed.

Sent to Mrs. King from PS 32 in NYC after Dr. King was killed

Sent to Mrs. King from PS 32 in NYC after Dr. King was killed

Sent to the SCLC in Dr. King's honor with a donation from a high school in Beverly Hills, CA.

Sent to the SCLC in Dr. King’s honor with a donation from a high school in Beverly Hills, CA.

All information obtained from The King Center’s website –

Brooklyn Legends Week in Review – My Magnificent 6

Dear Readers,

Last month President Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 17 individuals “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

I was delighted to see 6 women among this highly esteemed group and 2 are Brooklyn natives. For me it just doesn’t get any better.

It is truly an honor to salute:

Major Bonnie Carroll (Retired US Air Force), a public servant who has devoted her life to caring for our military and veterans.

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (posthumous), the first African-American woman elected to Congress, the first major-party African-American female candidate to make a bid for the U.S. presidency and Brooklyn resident.

Gloria Estefan, one of the first mainstream Hispanic artists to crossover between English and Spanish language music paving the way for countless other Latin artists to follow.

Katherine G. Johnson, a pioneer in American space history and a NASA mathematician whose computations have influenced every major space program from Mercury through the Shuttle program.

Senator Barbara Milkulski, who became the longest-serving female Senator in 2011 and the longest-serving woman in Congress and the first female Senator to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee in 2012.

Barbra Streisand world-famous singer, actor, director, producer and songwriter and one of the few performers to receive an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and a Tony.  Ms. Streisand was born in Brooklyn, NY.

Brooklyn Legends is pleased to join the world in saluting all of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, especially My Magnificent 6. To learn more about this year’s honorees, please follow this link.



The White House Briefing Room

Welcome to Brooklyn Legends’ Week In Review

Dear Readers,

With hope that you are having a Sensational Saturday. This has been an exciting week as we have been focused on preparing new content and expanding the Brooklyn Legends’ Facebook page.

To our Facebook followers, thank you for your encouragement. If you have not visited us, please stop by and see what we’ve been up to.  Reaching us is as easy as following this link:  Brooklyn Legends’ Facebook page.

We have embraced a “message of the day” approach and the photos shown here are taken from this week’s blog posts. We plan to incorporate a similar theme when connecting with you on this platform.  Here is what we have in store.

Serenity Sunday
 Our day to share quotes selected to inspire, uplift
and encourage you as you prepare for the week ahead.

Motivational Monday
Through pictures, quotes and videos, we hope to provide you with
an extra dose of motivation as you start your business week.

Tenacious Tuesday
 Our day to introduce you to our Legend of the Week,
a trailblazer whose tenacity and commitment to excellence
will encourage you as you pursue your dreams.

Working It Wednesday
We will salute fashion elegance from the past
and highlight wardrobe items that are trending now.

Thankful Thursday
Our day to reflect and show our gratitude for all that we have
and are we working to achieve.

Finally its Friday
We will close the work week with a few suggestions
for your weekend social calendar.

Sensational Saturday
Our recap of the week
with a surprise included from time to time.

Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog. We wish you a Sensational Saturday.


We Celebrate Women’s History Month and Empower Young Women & Girls


Dear Readers,

As we continue to applaud the achievements of women around the globe, we must embrace young women and girls as they make their way in the world.

Despite our “busyness” we must advocate for needs of our younger sisters as often, and as loudly, as we can.  Our commitment to empowering the next generation is truly a collaborative effort — one that will require great resources if we are to succeed.  This endeavor is not without its challenges, but I am confident that we can do this.

Leymah Gbowee - via

Leymah Gbowee – via

I opened today’s post with a video by Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, who shares the story of her personal transformation and implores us to find ways to unlock the untapped potential of girls.  If you are reading this post on your smart phone or table, and cannot see the video, please follow this link to the Ted Talks website. Once there, type Leymah Gbowee into the site’s search engine.

Here is a brief overview of Ms. Gbowee’s amazing achievements from

Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee was sick of enduring the civil war that had been ravaging her country since 1999. Using her education in peace studies and in collaboration with the organization Women in Peacebuilding Network, Gbowee led a mass women’s movement of peaceful protests and strikes. The group also enacted a now-infamous sex strike, in which many Liberian women refused to sleep with their partners until peace was achieved.

The movement culminated in Gbowee and her comrades daringly holding the delegates responsible for peace talks hostage until they reached an agreement. Harnessing the power of women banning together and the tactic of peace, Gbowee successfully helped bring the Second Liberian Civil War to an end in 2003. “It’s time for women to stop being politely angry,” Gbowee once said.  Thankfully, Gbowee continues to lead by example and loudly continues to demand justice, through writing, speaking and her work with the Gbowee Peace Foundation.

Brooklyn Legends is pleased to join with the Gbowee Peace Foundation, and organizations world-wide, in advancing the cause of women and girls. We hope that you will join us in this endeavor.  There is plenty of work to do.



50 Years From Now, Here Are the Trailblazing Women We’ll Be Celebrating as Poineers – via
Leymah Gordon’s speech – Unlock the Intelligence of Women and Girls – via

Celebrating International Women’s Day & Women’s History Month

Dear Readers,

Welcome to Women’s History Month!  The past few weeks have been filled with appointments and deadlines that would not let up.  Please know that I truly miss connecting with you, and I am glad to be back on track. During recent conversations with some of my sister-friends, we each shared a common feeling — time is speeding by and we are racing to catch up.  We have so much to do.  Yet, as hard as we work, we continue to feel as if very little is getting done.  Of course these feelings are simply an illusion.

The important contributions that we make — as wife, mother, nurturer or caretaker; entrepreneur, trusted colleague, advisor or volunteer; community leader, change agent or visionary — underscore the value we have added to contemporary society and throughout history.  While our contributions may not always receive public fanfare or recognition, the appreciation we receive, from those we have helped along this journey, is priceless.

At Brooklyn Legends we celebrate the achievements of amazing women from the African diaspora everyday.  We are thrilled to join the world in celebrating International Women’s Day, which is today, Sunday, March 8th, and Women’s History Month, which lasts throughout March.

Julieanna Richardson - via

Julieanna Richardson – via

Recently, I read an interesting article, The Insider: Julieanna Richardson, Founder of The HistoryMakers, on the #Blackgivesback blog.  This article provided the perfect segue for our Women’s History Month salute.

Founded in 1999, “The HistoryMakers is a leader in helping to educate and enlighten millions worldwide through refashioning a more inclusive record of American history.”  Ms. Richardson has changed the conversation with the impressive video interviews she has conducted to document the lives of African-Americans, their triumphs and challenges.  To read the entire article from the #Blackgivesback blog please click here.  To experience the priceless treasures on The HistoryMakers site, please follow this link.

Ms. Richardson and her team have also interviewed some phenomenal women from Brooklyn.  The photo montage at the start of today’s post, provides a glimpse of some of these trailblazers.  As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it will be my privilege to share more information with you about each of these Legends.  We invite you to join us as we recognize:

  • Dr. Josephine English, a medical pioneer and the first African-American woman to have an OB/GYN practice in the state of New York.  Dr. English died in 2012 at the age of 91 years old.
  • Ernesta Procope, an entrepreneur who used her business savvy to grow her insurance and real estate business from a small storefront in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn to the first minority-owned company on Wall Street.
  • Rev. Julie Johnson Staples, who prior to her career as an ordained minister worked as: a journalist, a Wall Street finance executive and a correspondent for the Justice Department and the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Lynn Nottage, a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, screenwriter, Associate Professor of Theater at Columbia University and lecturer at Yale University.
  • Bethann Hardison, a trailblazing model and businesswoman, an outspoken advocate for greater representation of people of color in the modeling industry and creator of The Black Girls Collective.
  • Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Ph.D., an American historian and author, who focuses on early African-American history and African-American women’s history, who is also a Professor Emerita at Morgan State University.

As you can see, we have a great deal in store for March.  We invite you to continue this journey with us.

Enjoy your day!


Information about Ms. Richardson and The HistoryMakers comes from the Black Gives Back Blog –
The HistoryMakers –
Dr. Josephine English – The History Makers and City University of New York,
Ernesta Procope – The History Makers and Black Enterprise Magazine,
Rev. Julie Johnson Staples – The History Makers and The Riverside Church,
Lynn Nottage – The History Makers and Lynn Nottage,
Bethann Hardison – The History Makers and Elle Magazine,
Rosalyn Terborg-Penn – The History Makers and BWHxG – Cross Generational Dialogues in Black Women’s History








Reflections – As We Approach the Holidays

Square headingDear Readers:

I hope that you enjoyed Thanksgiving with your family, friends and loved ones.  In a few weeks we will celebrate Christmas throughout the world and I am truly excited.

I find Christmas to be one of the most magical times of the year.  Perhaps it is my overall disposition, but I sense that most people are gentler and kinder.  While tragic, recent events have taken their toll, I do feel that people are trying their best to welcome the holidays.  I am not suggesting that “all is calm,” but I would prefer that you take this as my prayer for peace and my hope for reconciliation.

As you might have noticed, it is very easy for me to get caught up in the joy of Christmas.  I am looking forward to the holiday decorations I have selected; exchanging gifts with my husband, friends and family; attending several of the holiday concerts I have been invited to and watching Disney’s A Christmas Carol – which is one of my favorite holiday rituals.

At the same time, I cannot forget those for whom the holidays are filled with reminders of what they currently do not have.  If you walk the streets of New York City, or take public transportation, you will encounter those who are in need in everyday.  However, in addition to those I encounter daily, there are hundreds of individuals that I would never see or know about if it were not for the New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.

A Brief History of The Neediest Cases Fund

IMG_0129On December 25, 1911, New York Times publisher Adolph S. Ochs went for a walk after dinner.  He met a shabbily dressed man who received Christmas dinner at the Y.M.C.A., but he had no place to sleep.  Ochs gave him a few dollars and his business card.  He told the stranger, “If you’re looking for a job, come see me tomorrow.”

This chance encounter left Ochs feeling charitable and curious as to whether or not this feeling could be the basis for a city’s goodwill.  The next year he sent a reporter to several of New York City’s private welfare agencies to collect stories about the poor.  His objective was to publish articles about the Hundred Neediest Cases in New York.  The appeal would be made not with a direct request for donations, but with the facts of their lives.  As it turned out, these stories sounded a powerful call.  The campaign, which began on December 12, 1912, was soon adopted by other publishers in the United States and abroad.  The idea was brilliant in its simplicity – a newspaper would make a general appeal for the needy and help the City’s welfare agencies solicit funds.

How You Can Help

After reading the profiles of Emie Payen, a 55-year-old woman who has defied a short life expectancy for decades; Roderick Bradshaw, a father who found a path to success while raising his 5-year old son; Ana Miguel, a woman who overcame surges of addiction and instability, and is now encouraging others to do the same; Anna Reifman, a woman who for many years was trapped within her own anxieties before learning she was not alone; Natasha Mohammed, a mother who is praised for stoking her children’s creative tendencies while struggling to say warm and Linda Malloy, a grandmother who is savoring sobriety and working to rebuild her life, it is clear that New Yorkers need help year-round.

If you are looking for a cause to adopt this season, I encourage you to consider the New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.  Since its inception more than 100 years ago, the fund has worked closely with several New York City charities and has raised more than $275 million.  The present campaign began on November 2, 2014 and runs through January 23, 2015.  Here is a list of the participating organizations. 

Brooklyn Community Services
285 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, New York

Catholic Charities of New York
1011 First Avenue, New York, New York

Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens
191 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, New York 11201

The Children’s Aid Society
105 East 22nd Street, New York, New York 10010

Community Service Society of New York
105 East 22nd Street, New York, New York 10010

Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies
281 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10010

UJA Federation of New York
Church Street Station, PO Box 4100, New York, New York 10261

It is in this spirit of reflection that I write today’s post.  I know that there are thousands of organizations, not featured on this list, that are making a difference in the lives of New Yorkers everyday.  We at Brooklyn Legends salute these organizations and extend our best wishes to the people they serve.

Happy Holidays.


The People’s Champion and The Fight to Save Brooklyn’s LICH



Dear Readers:

Last month, I introduced to some (and re-introduced to others) New York City’s Public Advocate Letitia James. At that time I provided a broad overview of the important items on her agenda: good work for fair pay, access to healthcare, a common sense public education policy, universal school lunch and a constituent services plan.

Today I will focus on Public Advocate James’ determination to preserve one of Brooklyn’s venerable health care institutions – Long Island College Hospital (LICH). This has been a public fight and some New Yorkers have been critical of her stance around this issue. The plea was to keep the hospital running as a full service medical center – a noble aspiration but one without any real takers.

LICH was a financially troubled institution for many years.  In 2011 when SUNY raised its hand, and agreed to partner with the medical center, there was a collective sigh of relief and another health care crisis seemed to be adverted.

IMG_0084All of this changed in 2013 when SUNY decided to sell LICH, which was losing anywhere from $6 million to $10 million per month. On October 9, 2014, after a lengthy RFP process and many setbacks – including a labor dispute with the New York State Nursing Association (NYSNA) – Fortis Property Group would be successful.

What does this all mean?  Fortis has been given the green light to redevelop the site to include condominiums and a state of the art medical center to be operated by NYU Langone Medical Center.  In 2018, if all goes according to plan, a new housing development will be on the market and the residents of south Brooklyn will have a free-standing emergency room department. This is not the deal community residents and public advocates originally lobbied for, but sometimes success comes in small steps. Here is what the structured settlement will call for:

  • $5 million to upgrade the interim emergency department that NYU Langone Medical Center will operate until the new facility is complete.
  • $175 million to build a new facility with 125,000 square feet of space.
  • A medical treatment plan that will employ 70 doctors.
  • A total staff of 400.

I must admit there were times when I felt this would be a hopeless fight, and the residents would end up with little or no hope for quality health care.  In the early stages it was easier to call for an all or nothing proposition, but as we all know life is rarely this simple.  There are always challenges seen, and unseen, that further complicate financial deals of this magnitude. Not to minimize the daunting challenge of operating LICH, but my sense of why this fight was so important for James, and former Public Advocate now Mayor Bill DeBlasio, comes down to one word – ACCESS.  This was their way of ensuring an open dialogue around access to health care, during a time when the need is so great.  Perhaps, one day plans for a full-service hospital will show up in another form.

Outlining her agenda -

Outlining her agenda –

For me, this does not mean that Public Advocate James’ fight was lost or not needed.  I’m glad to know that we have elected officials who want to win for the people they represent.

While standing in opposition to a huge business deal such as this was may not always be practical, it is indeed admirable. This was not an easy process for Public Advocate James but she stood by the community and saw the debate through to the end.

To me, she still a champion and, from time to time, everybody needs one.

Have a great week!



SUNY, Fortis reach agreement on LICH –
The End for Long Island College Hospital – New York Time –
LICH Deal Collapses After Hiring Dispute –
University Hospital of Brooklyn at Long Island College Hospital –
LICH History – Dr. Hugh Gilgoff, LICH Pediatrics, Brooklyn, New York