BROOKLYN, NY – New York City Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, joined by children, families, local residents of all ages and organizations, gathered at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum on Thursday to paint a historic mural that will highlight the beauty, cultural diversity, and unity of the Crown Heights neighborhood.
ONE CROWN HEIGHTS, is a cross-cultural project intended to increase community bonds, mobilize positive behavior and create opportunities for the Black, Caribbean, Jewish and newer residents to work towards One Crown Heights. The event is part of a larger project funded by the City Council to support a series of community conversations, special events, and the creation of a mural that promotes diversity and unity.
This summer, the community will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Crown Heights riots, which spanned three days that spurred tremendous tragedy, racial and religious tensions between the Black and Jewish populations. While the riots occurred over the course of three days, it has taken over two decades to reestablish a beautiful mosaic of faith, love, and community among the Caribbean, Black, African-American and Jewish population. We have come so far, but we still have more work to do.
“Murals have a lasting effect on communities. It does not mark the ending, nor the beginning, but the continuation of a story. Art in our public spaces remains one of the greatest forms of collective community expression. Murals allow us to see our community from different viewpoints, to explore new relationships, and to appreciate our cultural similarities and differences. The ONE CROWN HEIGHTS mural will allow for introspection, reconnection and contemplation about our community, friends and neighbors. It has been an honor to work with Groundswell and several partners to make this project possible,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.
Partners included Crown Heights Youth Collective and Founder Richard Green, Crown Heights Jewish Community Council (CHJCC) and Rabbi Eli Cohen, Groundswell Community Mural Project, Repair the World – NYC, Chevra Ahavas Yisroel, friends of the Lubavitch community, Jewish Children’s Museum (JCM) and Devorah Halberstam, Crown Heights Mediation Center and Save Our Streets peace keepers and Amy Ellenbogen, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Weeksville Heritage Center, The Brooklyn Historical Society, The Center for Community Leadership at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and Rabbi Bob Kaplan.
“The One Crown Heights mural project brought together people of many different backgrounds and ages to learn from each other and work collaboratively on a shared vision of the neighborhood. Groundswell mural youth spent weeks learning from local leadership about their neighbors and sought feedback and input from community members on their draft drawing. Today at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum toddlers, kids, teens and adults painted and colored together as they talked and learned from each other about each other’s customs and traditions,” said Amy Ellenbogen, project director of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center.
Over the last six months, a group of nearly fifty youth from various Brooklyn neighborhoods participated in field trips, self-guided research and presentations from community-based organizations to develop the mural concept and designs. The ONE CROWN HEIGHTS mural blends images of people, neighborhood landmarks and events including the 1991 riots, new construction, West-Indian American Day Parade, and the central headquarters of the Lubavitch Hasidic community. Once a wall is located in Crown Heights, the mural designed on parachute cloth will be installed and a public dedication will be announced for late Spring/early Summer 2016.
“Groundswell was delighted to join Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, the Crown Heights Mediation Center, and our many other community-based partners for a One Crown Heights community painting event. The joyful community painting day for the One Crown Heights mural inspired hundreds of participants with the power of the community-based artmaking process. Each Crown Heights resident who joined us at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, from newborns and their families to elementary school students to local artists, contributed to strengthening their neighborhood and building connections across diverse communities. The Groundswell mural, beautifully designed by Lead Artist Danielle McDonald and a team of talented Groundswell youth, visually celebrates the very unity we witnessed yesterday,” said Sharon Polli, deputy director of Groundswell, which has honed their skills for almost two decades and have created almost 500 murals that have changed and engaged neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs.
“Brooklyn Children’s Museum is proud to host this Community Painting Day for the ONE CROWN HEIGHTS mural. As a resident of Crown Heights since 1899 and the world’s first children’s museum, we feel like it’s our responsibility and also our very great pleasure to have so many different communities come together to paint in our space,” said Stephanie Wilchfort, president & CEO of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
“It was exciting to be here today seeing the kids from every ethnicity collaborating on a work that celebrates the diversity of their community,” said Rabbi Eli Cohen, executive director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council.
“The arts are a great way to bring diverse cultures together that will strengthen the local community, to foster mutual respect and love for one another. The ONE CROWN HEIGHTS mural is intended to celebrate us. We will continue to evolve as a diverse and progressive community, which will enable us to weave new stories into our tapestry,” concluded Cumbo.
New York City Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo represents the 35th District, which covers Bedford-Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Fort Greene and Prospect Heights. She serves as Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues and a member of several committees: Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations; Finance; Higher Education; Public Housing; and Youth Services. Council Member Cumbo is also co-chair of the Women’s Caucus; a member of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus as well as the Jewish Caucus.