Local Community Should Have Power To Define Self
Eddie Ellis: National chairman of the NuLeadership Policy Group at. Medgar Evers College
“I support the idea that the local black community should have the power to name themselves and define themselves. Sonny Carson is a hero in our community, a legend in our community and there is absolutely no real reason why the street should not be renamed. But the issue is larger than that. It’s about community empowerment and the idea that local communities should have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives and their community. It seems that the Speaker has abridged that right and that’s the fundamental issue here: support the right of empowerment of the local community.”
Charlene Phillips: District Manager, Community Board 3
“I’m here to fight for a principle and a neighborhood prerogative that we’ve always had. I think that the Bedford-Stuyvesant community deserves the right to name their heroes as they see them. It’s not about a person, it’s about a principle. And for that principle to be taken away from us, and for others to decide who we can honor, is really not right. They don’t do it for any other community. We need to be able to define ourselves.”
Elombe Brath: WBAI Host, Afrikalidescope “I was born in Brooklyn and I had to always argue with Sonny about that. I’d say ‘Sonny, why you always asking me for my passport when I was born in Brooklyn and you’re from South Carolina?’ and we’d laugh. But seriously, I’m here because I’ve been with Sonny for many, many years and struggled with him in many, many campaigns, and I know his story. Many people here know him. And for Tish James to say she abstains because she did not know that much about Sonny Carson. How can you be in Brooklyn all these years and not know about Sonny Carson? I don’t understand that.
They think three white men can cancel a hundred Black men; that’s how they roll, but we’re not going to allow it to happen.”
Brenda Fryson: Community Board 3, Brownstoner”The community needs to understand the importance of this issue. It’s not necessarily about the co-naming. It’s about the power of the people in the community to make decisions for themselves. This is not 1847, it is 2007 and we have to be able to make our own decisions for our own community. If we let this go down, then something else will go down. We have to stop it here and now.”
Reverend Conrad Tillman: Interim Pastor, Nazarene Congregational Church
Sonny always staked out the strongest position and you looked to him to see where you stood.
He taught me about being a man and standing strong for your community. The irony is that we’re gathered here for the very principle that Sonny built his life around and that is the issue of community control.
Sonny deserves this. People who are poor, people who are middle class, from the Christian church, Muslim mosque, community groups, nationalist groups, we’re all standing together to say that we will never allow anyone to deny us the right to name our institutions and our streets.
Jerome F. Cuyler, MD: Chairperson, Bd. of Dirs., Vannguard Urban Improvement Association, Inc.
“I’m here because of the right for self determination. We have the right to determine who our heroes are. Sonny Carson made a lot of people upset, but he was a true hero for Brooklyn. And to take his name off a list because they don’t know where he came from, is not right for the community that has decided they want him as a hero. We followed the rules and they want to change them. We’re not going to let that happen.”
John Flateau: Dean of External Relations at Medgar Evers College
Sonny Carson is a legitimate leader of our community who made major contributions and secondly there is a principle involved here. The Community Board is a governmental body, our councilman represents us in the city legislature and they were arbitrarily and capriciously overruled. They made a recommendation and put his name in legislation to co-name a street that is currently named after a Virginia slaveholder who was a questionable General in the American Revolution. Streets all over New York City are named after questionable people. So let us name the streets in our community and everything will be fine.”
Josephine Dinsmore: Community Board 3
“I serve on Community Planning Board 3 and we did all the things requisite in order for the City Council to co-name streets. And when that is denied, you create ire. I knew Sonny Carson and I knew what he stood for and I stand for the same thing.”
Randy Waterman: Community Board 3
“I’m here in support of the street- naming process that was in place for many a moon and all of a sudden because a handful of people didn’t like what he said, they want to take his name off the agenda. We’re here to set things right and put his name back on.”
Peter Anderson: Community Activist
“Sonny was an effective activist. I met him personally and I like the work he was doing with December 12th and his organization (Committee to Honor Black Heroes). And for white people to call him a racist is absurd. They call him that because he was not a lackey.”
Vera Wright Second-generation Brooklynite
Knew Sonny Carson 40 years ago as a student attending IS 271 in Ocean Hill- Brownsville. Vera grew up as an activist. Her mom walked the picket line w/Carson for community control of schools.
“At that time the community didn’t know about their history, that changed because of Sonny’s work. I learned about the Kingdom of Africa.”
“What I was mistaught at the JHS level overwhelmed me psychologically and I vowed never to let it happen to my children, that they would not know their history.”
“My father said recently that he was glad that I am the kind of parent that I am. Back in his time, there was no knowledge of Black history.”