News Americas, BROOKLYN, NY, Fri. July 8, 2011: A block in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, NY will this later month carry the name of a Nevisian-born, American politician.
Jefferson Avenues, between Tompkins and Throop, is set to finally carry the sign: “The Bertram L. Baker Way,” in honor of the former Caribbean-born assemblyman and Brooklyn’s first black politician, the late Bertram L. Baker.
Baker was born in 1898 on Nevis and emigrated to the U.S. in 1915 at the age of 17. He later obtained a job as a book-keeper and soon ascended to head of the accounting division of Cox & Nostrand, a Brooklyn chandelier manufacturer.
Later, he went into private practice as a public accountant and would eventually be appointed U.S. Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue, designated to the income-tax division in Brooklyn.
Baker rose through the ranks of the Brooklyn Democratic Party in the 1930’s and in 1948 he became the first black man to be elected to the New York State assembly for the growing Bed-Stuy neighborhood and rose to political heights in New York.
Baker retired from the Assembly in 1970 after serving for 22 years in the State Assembly and in the 1960s was Majority Whip of the Assembly.
He also and led a national black tennis group that paved the way for world champions Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe.
His granddaughter, Massachusetts First Lady Diane Patrick and her husband, Governor Deval Patrick, will be on hand for the co-naming and celebration of the 125-year-old block on Saturday, July 16th.
The Patricks’ will speak, along with local elected officials, celebrating the hanging of the sign at 3 p.m.
The sign placement comes some seven months after the New York City Council voted to co-name Jefferson Avenue, between Tompkins and Throop avenues, after the late Baker.
“Bertram Baker pioneered the way for black Brooklyn elected officials, such as myself,” said Council Member Al Vann on December 10, 2010, a day after the vote. “I followed in his footsteps when I represented the offshoot of his district during my years in the New York State Assembly. The co-naming of his former block in his honor is well deserved. Bedford-Stuyvesant should be proud and hopefully all of our children will know the name of Bertram Baker and why Jefferson Avenue bears his name.”
The City Council last year voted on the measure as part of its omnibus street co-naming bill with 66 other streets around New York City. The Bedford-Stuyvesant co-naming was forwarded to Council Member Vann after Community Board 3 approved it in April 2009. The proposal had been submitted to the community board by the Jefferson Avenue TNT Block Association, which represents Bertram Baker’s former block.
At 4 p.m. Gov. Patrick will be at Common Grounds café, 376 Tompkins Ave., with Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, talking about his powerful new memoir, A Reason to Believe, which tells how he overcame great obstacles to become the first Black Governor of Massachusetts, and signing copies.