Photos and text by: Lem “Juice” Peterkin
The work of Pinn, Kinard, Weusi and a host of others in establishing Brooklyn around 1963 as the center of New York City’s community activism is reported widely.
But a man named “Jocko” – a teen in ’63 who later became “Mayor of Brownsville” — is the hero to “old-timers” and their supporters who remember his early youthful triumphs and his later great achievements for the neighborhood.
Each year for the past 50, alums of the Brownsville Recreation Center meet to celebrate its impact on their lives.
Mr. Jackson, the manager of the Brownsville Recreation Center for 15 years, 1997-2012, suffered a heart attack in the of spring 2012 at the NYC Parks Dept. office in Prospect Park last year. He was 60. The NBA player grew up playing basketball at the BRC on Linden Boulevard and always credited the center for making a difference in his life.
After his NBA success, Mr. Jackson came back home and transformed the community center from a dying relic to a vibrant, full-service, safe-place facility and “a home for generations” of young people.
On Friday, July 26 hundreds joined in a salute to Gregory Jackson in celebration of the golden year of Old-timer’s Day, which is sometimes called Brownsville Day. This year it extended to a weeklong fest.
There was an official community ceremony to co-name the intersection of Linden Blvd and Christopher Street Gregory Jocko Jackson Blvd. through a City Council resolution pushed by City Councilman Charles Barron, a major sponsor of the event. Jocko’s family, friends, former staff and mentees were present.
Barron said, “Jocko profoundly impacted and improved the lives of residents of Brownsville and beyond through youth services, mentoring and advocacy. He is most deserving of this honor. Long live Gregory ‘Jocko’ Jackson”.
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