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 –

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.


“Of The People, By The People & For The People”

Dear Readers,

I hope that everyone had a wonderful July 4th holiday. I cannot believe how quickly time has passed. I received many e-mails with best wishes for a happy summer, and just to say “hello.” Thank you for reaching out. I truly appreciate hearing from you. For today’s post, I am pleased to share information about The Honorable Yvette Clarke, one of Brooklyn’s favorite daughters.

Rep. Yvette Clarke -

Many residents of Brooklyn’s new Ninth Congressional District were justly proud when Clarke was elected to be their Congresswoman in November 2006. The areas that fall under her careful stewardship include Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Gerritsen Beach, Madison, Midwood, Ocean Hill, communities within Park Slope and Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Sheepshead Bay, Windsor Terrace and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, which is where I live.

I am equally excited that Congresswoman Clarke’s office is within walking distance from my apartment. There is great satisfaction in knowing that my Representative is so accessible.

Rep. Clarke & Dr. Una Clarke - via

Rep. Clarke & Dr. Una Clarke – via

Prior to her election as Congresswoman, Clarke served on the New York City Council where she represented Brooklyn’s 40th District. She has the distinction of succeeding her pioneering mother and former City Council Member Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, making them the first mother-daughter succession in the history of the Council.

As Brooklyn’s Representative for the Ninth Congressional District, Congresswoman Clarke stands by her commitment to the legacy of excellence set forth by the Honorable Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman and the first Caribbean-American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Congresswoman Chisholm would become the first woman of African-American and Caribbean descent to run for President as a major-party candidate.

Shirley Chisholm - via

Shirley Chisholm – via

Like Congresswoman Chisholm, Clarke is an unwavering champion for the people of her native Brooklyn. While she presently holds the title of legislator, Clarke has effectively used her experiences as an activist and community organizer to become an effective leader and tireless advocate on issues of paramount importance to the people of Brooklyn; particularly jobs, immigration reform, education and housing. These are indeed weighty issues for they affect our nation. Today, I will focus on Clarke’s recent movement in the area of job creation and her fight for an increase in the minimum wage.  I will share additional information with you regarding her advocacy for immigration reform, education and housing in future posts.

H.R. 803 signed by Speaker Boehner -

H.R. 803 signed by Speaker Boehner –

On Thursday, July 10, 2014, Congresswoman Clarke released a statement on the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 – H.R. 803. The bill passed by 415 to 6.

“The people themselves have always been our most important resource. To remain competitive in the Twenty-First Century in an economy that includes every nation in the world, we must support people in the development of their individual capacities.”  Congresswoman Clarke goes further to say “I believe that the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will allow more people to access training programs to develop the skills our economy needs.”

Photo via

Photo via

Two weeks ago, just before the July 4th holiday, Congresswoman Clark released a statement on the June Jobs Report, which indicated the long-term unemployment rate has declined to 2.0 percent, as more companies are hiring workers who had been unable to find a job for more than six months.  “This report demonstrates that our economy is rebounding.  Small business lead the way in creating 117,000 jobs last month and our economy has continued to recover from the economic crisis under the leadership of President Obama.”  Congresswoman Clarke also uses this upward movement to make the case for supporting an increase in the hourly wage.  “I’d also urge my colleges in the House of Representatives to allow for a vote on increasing the minimum wage.  There are millions of workers with full-time employment whose wages are insufficient to support their families.  An increase to $10.10 an hour would affirm the dignity of work, and allow millions of Americans to escape poverty.”

In early March, Congresswoman Clarke lobbied for a vote on unemployment benefits for Veterans. This request was based on a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities which determined that 200,00 veterans of the armed forces have already lost benefits this year.  This request was submitted to Speaker of the House John Boehner in a letter signed by 161 members of Congress.  In Clarke’s words, “the failure to extend unemployment benefits has been inexcusable.  The women and men of our armed forces who sacrified for us, their follow citizens and for their nation, deserve better from their representatives in Washington, D.C. The continued refusal of Republic leaders to schedule a vote on this matter demonstrates the intention to avoid the issue.  The soldiers who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, and cannot find jobs, cannot avoid the issue and their obligations to their families.  We have a responsibility to act.”

I would like to close today’s post with a video featuring Congresswoman Clarke’s plea for the passage of a Jobs Bill.  For me, this is a stark reminder of why we need a dynamic leader, such as our esteemed Congresswoman, advocating on our behalf.

We are all in this together! Continue to be inspired. Also, do not be afraid to add your voice to the many issues that challenge us in today’s economy.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke –
Wikipedia – Congresswoman Yvette Clarke –



Will All Roads Lead to Brooklyn in 2016?

Dear Readers,

The recent speculation around the 2016 Democratic National Convention coming to Brooklyn has everyone excited, and with good reason. Our borough is in the midst of a renaissance that we have never seen before.

The completion of the new Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn set the stage for the new burst of enthusiasm around building projects. This is a time of tremendous growth, but there have also been some challenges too, which I would love to discuss in the coming months. I remember hearing many years ago that nothing is ever as easy as it seems, and true progress comes with a price. Having said this, I chose to remain excited about the possibilities for all Brooklyn residents.

logoYesterday the Brooklyn Daily Eagle featured a great article that caught the world’s attention: Local politicians say Brooklyn is perfect spot for 2016 Democratic National Convention.  Several elected officials have weighed in including: Senator Charles (Chuck) Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; Representatives Jerrold Nadler (representing New York’s 10th district), Carolyn Maloney, (representing New York’s 12th district), Nydia Velazquez (representing New York’s 7th district), Yvette Clarke (representing New York’s 9th district) and Hakeem Jeffries (representing New York’s 8th district).  Of course this is just the beginning of a very long conversation, but if each elected official could wave a magic wand all roads will lead to Brooklyn in 2016.  As this is such a hot topic, we will continue to update you as events unfold.

Rep. Yvette Clarke -

Rep. Yvette Clarke –

Today, I would like to make special note of Representative Yvette Clarke’s commitment to bringing the 2016 Democratic National Council to Brooklyn.  The objective is to set the stage for a comprehensive look at her significant contributions, which date back to her early days as a member of the New York City Council representing Brooklyn’s 40th district.

Representative Clarke has the distinction of succeeding her mother, Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, the first Caribbean-born woman elected to the New York City Legislature.  This was the first mother-daughter succession in the history of the Council.  I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to live in the district that both of these esteemed women serve as leaders. Of course the stage was sent for them many years ago by the late Honorable Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman and Caribbean-American elected to Congress.  She would later run for President of the United States.

In closing, I wanted to leave you with this quote which, in my opinion, says it all.

“Brooklyn has always been the starting place for the American Dream where people from around the world have come to build a better future for themselves and their children.  The same spirit that animates Brooklyn animates the Democratic Party: the belief that everyone should have the opportunity for full participation in our society.  We are a diverse community that has much to share with our fellow Americans, as I believe the Democratic National Convention here in 2016 will demonstrate to the thousands of guests and millions of viewers at home.”

Representative Yvette Clarke
June 25, 2014
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

We at Brooklyn Legends are so proud to count Representative Clarke as one of Brooklyn’s favorite daughters. You will have a chance to learn more about her dedication in the coming weeks.




Brooklyn Daily Eagle – June 25, 2014
Representative Yvette Clarke –