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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 Sarita Daftary-Steel
March 16, 2014
Call number: 2015.011.03
Oral History Interview with Johanna Brown
Johanna Brown was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1954. Her father was an African American who was born in Georgia, raised in Philadelphia, and moved to New York after serving in World War II. Her mother was the daughter of African immigrants from Cape Verde. In 1960, her family moved from the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn to Ashford Street in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. The family later moved to the Linden Houses, and finally to the Starrett City (Spring Creek) section of the neighborhood, where she continues to live with her son (as of 2015). She attended PS 108, Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School for Girls, and Thomas Jefferson High School, and now works for the New York City Transit Authority.
In the interview, Johanna Brown discusses moving to a predominantly Jewish section of the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, White flight and the decline of services in the area, racism and resistance to integrating public schools, interracial friendships, life at the Linden Houses and Starrett City, United Community Centers, the devastating effect of drugs on the community, the rise of crime and violence (including the murder of a school friend), and the effect of gentrification on the future of the neighborhood. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Brown's home in East New York.
Approximately twelve minutes of the interview has been removed for privacy reasons.
The collection consists of twenty oral history interviews (with nineteen narrators) conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel with residents (past and present) of the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. The interviews were conducted between January 2014 and February 2015. The project was designed to capture the experiences of East New York residents who lived in the neighborhood during the period when families of color (African American, West Indian, and Puerto Rican) moved in and White families moved out, and the resulting decline of services and quality of life that followed. This process began as early as the 1950s and continued through the rest of the twentieth century. Sarita Daftary-Steel is a community organizer who worked for United Community Centers from 2003 to 2013, most of those years as the East New York Farms! Project Director.
CitationBrown, Johanna, Oral history interview conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel, March 16, 2014, Sarita Daftary-Steel collection of East New York oral histories, 2015.011.03; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School for Girls (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
- Brown, Johanna
- Linden Houses (Housing complex)
- P.S. 108 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
- P.S. 158 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
- Starrett City (Housing complex)
- Thomas Jefferson High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
- United Community Centers, Inc.
- African Americans
- Drug abuse
- Public housing
- Public schools
- Race relations
- School integration
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- East New York (New York, N.Y.)
Finding AidSarita Daftary-Steel collection of East New York oral histories