by

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we’ve collected the stories of a few remarkable Brooklyn people (and places) who fought for racial justice — from the groundbreaking politician Shirley Chisholm to the rebirth of Bed Stuy, and the role of the Slave Theater in Afro-centric activism.

So grab a nice cup of coffee or tea and settle in to read a few tales to make you Brooklyn proud.

Judge John L. Phillips. Photo via the Slave Theater website

For many people in Bedford Stuyvesant, home to Brooklyn’s largest African American community, Fulton Street’s Slave Theater is not just a building — it’s a metaphor.

The name has always been uncomfortable. Who wants to be reminded of slavery? Who wants to be reminded of slavery when going to the movies, of all times?

That’s just why Judge John L. Phillips chose the name.

by
8

Photo by Brownstoner reader Augustiner

The new owners of Bed Stuy’s iconic Slave Theater filed permits on Wednesday to demolish the once-vibrant hub of civil rights activism.

Spurred into action at the prospect of demolition, 81-year-old Clarence Hardy — a former caretaker of the space who claims to be its rightful owner — climbed atop the Slave’s marquee on Friday and threatened to jump if the theater wasn’t saved.

by
34

Bed Stuy’s historic Slave Theater — a bastion of Afro-centric culture and activism since the 1980s — and two adjacent lots were sold to developer Eli Hemway for $18,500,000, according to The Real Deal. Permits have yet to be filed for development or renovation at any of the three sites: 1215 Fulton Street, 10 Halsey Street, and 16 Halsey Street.

Given the theater’s embattled history (more on that below), a kerfuffle is likely.