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At Van Dyke Houses in Brownsville, New Mural Memorializes Local Historymakers

The 60-foot-high mural features notable Brownsville activists, community leaders, artists, athletes and champions on the northeast exterior wall of Van Dyke III
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The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and Trinity Financial unveiled a 60-foot by 20-foot new mural at the Van Dyke III Houses that showcases community leaders with roots in Brownsville. 

The formal unveiling of the mural entitled, 'We Are Brownsville,' was part of an all-day community celebration that also featured the ribbon cutting for a newly renovated outdoor basketball court as well as games for children and other

Artist William “GoodWill” Ellis painted 17 of Brownsville’s most inspiring role models throughout modern Brooklyn history, including civil rights activist Rosetta Gaston, actor/author Bern Nadette Stanis, chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley and boxing champions Mike TysonRiddick Bowe and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad

Photo: Supplied

“As a proud son of Brownsville, I am thrilled that the ‘We Are Brownsville’ mural will showcase the rich history of this vibrant community,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “This new mural, and the recreational spaces that will accompany it, underscore our commitment to uplifting NYCHA residents while reminding them there is no limit to what they can achieve.”  

William Ellis uses his love of community to create multi-sensory experiential art. With Caribbean ancestry, Will was born and raised in Brooklyn and spent many years living, working and serving in areas like Bed Stuy, Ocean Hill, Brownsville, East New York, Crown Heights and Flatbush.  

The portraits also include: Greg “Jocko” Jackson – a Brownsville community leader and former NBA player with the Phoenix Suns and NY Knicks; Sandra Baker Fortune – founder of the Jazzy Jumpers Double Dutch jump rope team; retired NFL linebacker and Super Bowl XX champion Otis Wilson; Lisa C. Caldwell-Linder – Quinnipiac College women’s basketball legend; Brian Flores – NFL assistant coach with the Super Bowl LIII champion New England Patriots; Brooklyn basketball legend and former NBA player Dwayne “Pearl” Washington; champion middleweight boxer Daniel Jacobs; Brownsville activist and community leader (and Van Dyke I resident) Lisa Kenner; New York Yankees standout and six-time World Series champion Willie Randolph; former NBA player World B. Free; and legendary Thomas Jefferson High School football coach Moe Finkelstein. 

Photo: Supplied

"I'm excited for the unveiling of the ‘We Are Brownsville’ mural at Van Dyke III. It is a much needed reminder of the community's long and storied history. It provides visual inspiration to young people in Brownsville -- from the depiction of Mother Gaston to Dwayne "Pearl" Washington to boxing champions to Bern Nadette Stanis, who will forever be Thelma from 'Good Times' to me, said Assemblywoman Latrice Walker. 

"The images on the mural should send a message to everyone who sees it: Anything is possible,"