By Bernice Elizabeth Green
It was a long time coming, but for Cynthia Doris Pinn and Samuel Pinn, parents of the late beloved community builder and advocate Charles Christopher Pinn, it could not have come at a better time.
On the balmy Saturday before Thanksgiving, November 19, a triangular greenstreet forming the intersection of Lewis Avenue and Fulton Street, officially became a garden landmark memorial to the legacy of Mr. Pinn who passed 21 years ago.
Five years ago, Community Board #3 of Brooklyn voted unanimously to name the plot of earth – now a garden –after Mr. Pinn, whose ancestral grandparents planted roots in the area more than four decades before his birth in 1966, and whose mother, father and siblings are longtime campaigners and activists, professionally and personally, in the quest for neighborhood empowerment.
Mr. Pinn began his journey of service to the Bedford-Stuyvesant community at the young age of 14–he founded the Young Peoples’ Macon-MacDonough-Stuyvesant-Lewis Block Association in Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of the first youth-governed organizations of its kind in the city and later served as an intern for Councilman Al Vann while a student at Samuel J. Tilden High School.
He attended Howard University and, in 1985, upon returning to Brooklyn, continued to pursue his passion and personal mission related to community improvement by helping to form discussion forums on neighborhood planning and self-empowerment. Barely into his 20’s, Mr. Pinn had a strong, steady hand in organizing block associations, Parent-Teacher Associations and tenants’ rights groups. His outreach eventually touched many families, individuals, fellow residents and many elected officials.
His work carries forth in such organizations as the NAACP, for which he was the Brooklyn branch’s youthful Secretary, and for Community Board #3, for which he was elected to Chair at age 25.
Mr. Pinn was a member of the Board of Directors of the Fort Greene Citizens Council and he was a consultant to the Malcolm X, Marcy and Risley Dent Senior Centers. In 1995, he joined Our Lady of Charity Roman Catholic Church.
In his professional career as an assistant to Assemblyman Al Vann and Councilwoman Annette Robinson, he worked diligently to improve conditions and opportunities, particularly for the youth of Central Brooklyn. He formed the Junior Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA), and was also the first Chair of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Conference Youth Task Force.
He passed at age 29 after a prolonged illness.
In 2011, Community Board #3 of Brooklyn voted unanimously to name the plot of earth after Charles Pinn. The replanting of the triangle was completed in the fall of 2016. Last Saturday’s dedication honored Charles “Chris” Pinn for his devoted service to the local community.
Among the speakers were: Martin Maher, Brooklyn Chief of Staff, New York City Parks & Recreation, who opened and welcomed the 200 distinguished guests present; libation ceremony by Baba Mpho; the nationally known faith leader Reverend Dr. Herbert D. Daughtry, National Presiding Minister, House of the Lord Church who delivered the invocation; Public Advocate Letitia James; Councilman Robert Cornegy, 36th District; Assemblyman Charles Barron and Councilwoman Inez Barron, 41st District; Tremaine Wright, Chair, CB3 and Assemblywoman-elect, 56th District; Henry Butler, District Manager, Community Board 3; Mr. Pinn’s very first constant professional mentors Annette Robinson, Assemblywoman, 56th District, and Albert Vann, Councilman emeritus; and his parents Sam and Cynthia Doris Pinn. Celebrating the occasion were his brothers Sam lll and Greg, and a host of relatives, some from other states, and friends.
As one leader said, “The triangle is a gateway to Bedford-Stuyvesant”. The new street signs and standing wood billboards amidst the triangle’s flowers speak to Mr. Pinn’s example as what is normally called “the heart and pride & joy of Bed-Stuy”.
Ronald Taylor, District 3 Park Manager, welcomes public feedback regarding the Charles C. Pinn Triangle: 718-453-3898. If you’re interested in volunteering in the park, please contact Partnerships for Parks Brooklyn Outreach Coordinator Claudette Ramos at Claudette.Ramos@parks.nyc.gov, or 718-965-8907.
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