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  • Diane Butts

Kelley's Domain

“I've lived in Bed-Stuy for the last 50 years. My grandparents were among the first blacks; they moved here in the 1920s. It was their third home in this neighborhood. The first home was across the street, but eminent domain pushed them out. In this house, they raised two kids, two grandkids, four great grands. My grandmother, who was a seamstress, lived to 107. My grandfather was a porter.

Over the years I’ve seen the change – some good, some different. It’s become overpopulated and you don’t know all your neighbors anymore. One house across the street - I knew the original family, but then the generations gave up on it when the parents passed away. We have only a handful left on the block. It’s strange when what was a one-family house now has four families. We do still have a few families that look out for each other, and bang on the door if we haven’t seen them in a while.

But I’m still here and I’m not going anywhere. People try to buy it, and I chuckle. Usually, they ask me if I know the owner. I say, ‘yes I do, very well.’ They say, ‘do you think they want to sell?’ I tell them no, and they ask how I know, and I tell them ‘you’re talking to the owner.’

Some people lose their homes to foolishness. It’s left to siblings and they fight about it. This house was left to my sister and me. I’m trying hard to get her back here now.” (Kelley, Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn)


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