"The motivation behind it was really that when I told people where I lived, they would cringe as if Bed-Stuy was this place where I had to wear a helmet and a bulletproof vest. They assumed it to be this slum or this place that was just a war zone. And it actually was completely the opposite.
I might see images of robberies, shootings and acts of violence in Bed-Stuy, but never did I see images of the sweet things about the community. Images about the love, about family, about the diversity, about the good people, about all of these wonderful things that actually take place in the community. It is so rich with history. I mean Spike Lee, Lena Horne, Chris Rock, Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Earl Graves and even Jackie Gleason lived in Bed-Stuy."
The Times also posted a photo gallery with some of his work. Beautiful stuff. And kudos to Mr. Frederick for enriching the historical record being created about Bed-Stuy's recent history.
As a resident of Crown Heights, I think I've seen that same cringe on people's faces that Frederick refers to. Many still associate the neighborhood with the riots in 1991. But it's really a great place to live.
Soon after I moved to the area a few years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Wilhelmena Rhodes Kelly lecture on its history at the Brooklyn Public Library. She's written books about both Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights for the Images in America series (Arcadia Publishing). (Read more about that here).
She seemed to have the same misgivings about how her neighborhood is portrayed. “Tragedy and loss of life have always dominated the media, and this unfortunate neighborhood incident [the riot] proved to be no exception,” she writes, adding, “Crown Heights is, and remains, an American location of beauty and promise, with a dynamic history that is, and hopefully continues to be, a glowing example of multicultural successes and unlimited accomplishment.”
I'll drink to that.