From negative to positive: Civic gurus approve co-naming C’Hill street for ‘Biggie’ after previously panning tribute

Life after death: Community Board 2's Transportation and Public Safety Committee on Thursday nearly unanimously approved a proposal to co-name a Clinton Hill street after rapper and native son Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace roughly five years after local leaders did not move forward with a similar tribute.
Brooklyn Paper
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This B.I.G. honor is finally coming to fruition.

A Clinton Hill street will likely soon bear the name of the late local hip-hop legend, Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace, after members of the neighborhood’s community board on Thursday approved a pitch to co-name the block where the rapper grew up after him.

Community Board 2’s Transportation and Public Safety Committee’s vote to green-light the honor proposed by a borough artist came nearly five years after the man first brought the idea to the panel, which met it with shameful opposition back then, he said.

“At that time it was a pretty embarrassing reaction. It was sad for Brooklyn, and the community board,” said LeRoy McCarthy, who recently installed “Respect” signs in Crown Heights’s Franklin Avenue subway station as a tribute to the late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

But despite earning the committee’s near-unanimous approval, and the support of Clinton Hill Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, McCarthy’s proposal to co-name St. James Place between Gates Avenue and Fulton Street as “Christopher Wallace Way” wasn’t embraced by all in attendance.

Fort Greener Lucy Koteen — who the last time around notoriously argued the rapper also known as Notorious B.I.G. was too fat to be honored, among other things — again begged committee members to vote “nay,” citing some of the rhyme spitter’s more salacious lyrics, printouts of which she distributed at the meeting.

“How many of you read his lyrics? I have a treat for you,” said Koteen, who called the rapper a gun-toter, drug seller, and misogynist as she whipped out her evidence. “I invite any of you to read these out loud, and read them to your children. I can’t even say what his words are, they are all about promiscuous sex.”

But the words spoken by Wallace — whom Cumbo argued still influences both local and popular culture decades after he was shot and killed in 1997 at 24-years-old in a statement supporting the co-naming — are no more inflammatory than those uttered by the 45th president of the United States on a daily basis, according to a board member who once chaired the panel.

“We have a president whose lyrics you can’t read out loud,” said John Dew.

CB2 members recently voted to co-name two other streets within its district, including Gold Street between Myrtle Avenue and Willoughby Street for pioneering African-American journalist Ida B. Wells, and Columbia Heights between Pineapple and Orange Streets for Emily Warren Roebling, who ushered the Brooklyn Bridge to completion after her husband contracted a fatal case of the bends.

And last year, the board’s Parks and Executive Committees unanimously voted to name basketball courts inside Clinton Hill’s Crispus Attucks Playground for Wallace — despite more objections from Koteen.

Still, Dew said the civic panel has a history of resisting recognitions for black community members, and that it’s about time its members came around to supporting the tribute to Biggie.

“Community Board 2 does not have a good reputation when it comes to co-naming for African-American folks. We’ve had numerous examples, not unlike what you saw here, but you can’t stand up and tell a community whom they can and cannot honor in their district,” he said. “When this was first presented to us, I said bring it forward — but it was withdrawn before it got to the board. Thank goodness it’s here now.”

The panel’s full board will next vote on the co-naming, which then heads to Council, where it will almost certainly pass given Cumbo’s already pledged support.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 10:48 am, October 22, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Homey from Crooklyn says:
Potty mouth porker
Oct. 22, 2018, 6:24 am
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
the vote was 8 for 1 against and 1 abstain.
Oct. 22, 2018, 8:01 am
Boris from Borough Park says:
Thank God we have the City Council to handle the critical governance issues.
Oct. 22, 2018, 8:08 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
His music hasn't aged well - it sounds dated and his lyrics are so whiny. I'd be embarrassed if I still listened to his music. If he hadn't been shot, he'd be totally forgotten (like most of the weak rappers on Bad Boy Records.)
Oct. 22, 2018, 9:34 am
Angry from Clinton Hills says:
Only one street?! That’s LITTLE! Why not name all the streets after him??? Racism Maybe???
Oct. 22, 2018, 9:38 am
Intelligentsia Jones from Bed Stuy says:
The Dems keep throwing their voters scraps. Renaming streets and painting murals of famous Bla ck s does not equate to jobs or increased wealth for these people. Vote Red this November because great things are starting to happen for all people with DT in the White House. Don’t let these commies keep you on the bread lines while they are buying second homes in the Hamptons
Oct. 22, 2018, 10:17 am
Kylie from Clinton Hill says:
It does seem African Americans are bought off with easy gestures like street namings. What Italian American swells with pride at the renaming of the Tappan Zee Bridge the Mario Cuomo Bridge? I guess co-naming streets doesn't hurt anyone and it's the kind of simple thing the City Council does instead of tackling real problems this administration has exacerbated and/or created.
Oct. 22, 2018, 11:51 am
Brandy Wein from USA says:
Trump is passionate about helping newly released prisoners get work. He lights up when he talks about helping these people. Lowest Black and Hispanic unemployment and poverty rates ever recorded. They just need to believe in him and their lives will transform. Enough with the Democratic Party keeping you down. They take you for granted for your votes. Wake up! Trump is far from being a racist. He might just be your dream come true. Vote Republican on Nov. 6. Dump Cuomo. Dump Gillibrand. They are bad for America.
Oct. 22, 2018, 1:16 pm
Adamben from Bedstuy says:
Can we get more public potties and name them tRumps palace? And have the poo emoji with the fake hair? Aka “the donald”.
Oct. 22, 2018, 1:57 pm
Venno from Bed-Stuy says:
B.I.G. carried 0Bklyn on his back, and N.Y. back on the map...
Oct. 22, 2018, 6:09 pm
Dumbing down the standards from a Brooklyn that should know better says:
We see a President whose language and coarse diminishment of norms & yes...they turn our stomach. Thus it's sad that Trump is the standard by which we in the community justify an honor in what is an alternate reality...cooked up for political optics-rather than a bequest to an exemplary symbol for kids to be inspired by. For all those who share the color of Wallace's bet is that most do not revere the hard & ugly lifestyle he opted for. It's insulting to them that they are tarred with the baggage of association with a criminal-not any different from most whites in Brooklyn who refuse to be connected by Trump's evil words-no matter that their skin color is shared.
Oct. 22, 2018, 7:15 pm
Edward Koch from Salem’s Lot says:
The ‘dumbing down’ person who talks of Trumps ‘evil words’ has been exposed to be none other than Letitia ‘Tish’ James. Do not vote for this fraud. Vote for the smarter, brighter Black man who is running as a Republican for AG, do not vote for the whack job Letitia. Trust me.
Oct. 22, 2018, 9 pm
barb says:
but it's ok to have streets named after slave owners in Brooklyn - screw the people who don't like it
Oct. 23, 2018, 6:19 am
Gina from Clinton Hill says:
This is a role model? Someone our children should look up to and aspire to be? Of all the wonderful people from this community alive and passed who have contributed their time and efforts to make the neighborhood a better place...we can do better than this.
Oct. 23, 2018, 8:51 am
Kashka Bedemshka from Kabul says:
Right Barb, let’s rename Marcus Garvey Blvd. and Malcolm X Blvd because delving into their past I can guarantee you that they espoused racist views.
Oct. 23, 2018, 9:27 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Although I do believe that it's important to name places after minorities who are always being mistreated by the law and sometimes wrongfully killed, Biggie Smalls just isn't one of them. I do give my condolences to him getting shot, but that still doesn't mean he should something named for him. By that logic, we should always name places after everyone who gets shot, which is all the time. Perhaps, to quote Huey Freeman from the Boondocks from that episode, The Trial of Robert Kelly, "Yes there are many black people everyday being wrongfully accused, but R Kelly isn't one of them." If you watched that episode, you what know what I mean by that quote.
Oct. 23, 2018, 12:44 pm
Somebody from Somewhere says:
Good!! Not only because im a fan of biggie but its stuff like this that brings out the hidden racism that a lot of you have in you. Now lets hope they can revive the plan to name a street after sonny carson next. Baby baaaaby!!
Oct. 23, 2018, 1:22 pm
Somebody from Somewhere says:
If yall dont like then hey, nobody told you to move your gentrifying behinds to BK.
Oct. 23, 2018, 1:24 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
He's so black, they can literally name any street after him.
Oct. 23, 2018, 5:06 pm

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