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[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.
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Oral history interview conducted by Bahati Williams
April 21, 2008
Call number: 2008.030.04
Oral History Interview with Crystal Bobb-Semple
Crystal Bobb-Semple was born and raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Educated primarily in New York's public schools, she left the city for college and her master's in Public Administration. Bobb-Semple's early career was spent in children's services and she was a co-founder of the Child Welfare Taskforce. In the year 2000, Bobb-Semple opened the neighborhood's Brownstone Books store with aid from Restoration's revolving loan fund. (The program was a cornerstone of Restoration's business revitalization efforts.) At the time of the 2008 interview, Bobb-Semple's Brownstone Books had been open for eight years.
In this interview, Crystal Bobb-Semple remembers growing up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, and recounts childhood memories of Restoration. She discusses her decision to establish the Brownstone Books store, details the mentorship she's received from the Bedford-Stuyvesant Merchants' Association, shares her role in the Bedford-Stuyvesant Gateway Business Improvement District, and considers capitalism as a means of community development. She speaks of the effects of revitalization efforts on gentrification, displacement, and multiculturalism. Bobb-Semple describes her career journey from an early start in child welfare services to her current occupation as a bookseller and promoter of literacy. Interview conducted by Bahati Williams.
Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) and Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) partnered on the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral history project in 2007-2008 to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Restoration's founding as the first community development corporation (CDC) in the United States. Nearly sixty interviews were conducted with founding Board members, supporters, activists, artists, tenants, and other community members. Audio clips from these oral history interviews were included in the exhibit "Reflections on Community Development: Stories from Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation" (BHS 2008, Restoration 2009).
CitationBobb-Semple, Crystal, Oral history interview conducted by Bahati Williams, April 21, 2008, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories, 2008.030.04; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
- Bobb-Semple, Crystal
- Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association
- Grannum, Colvin W.
- Business enterprises
- Community development corporations
- Community development, Urban
- Economic development
- Enterprise zones
- Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Finding AidBedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories