Fort Greene

Myrtle Ave. Brooklyn Partnership creates ‘Audio Tour of Black Art History’

February 26, 2015 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Photo courtesy of Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership
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The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership has created a self-guided “Audio Tour of Black Art History,” now available on iTunes and on

The tour, available as a podcast with seven “episodes,” can be enjoyed from home or with a self-guided walk through the Fort Greene area. The eight artists featured on the tour represent different eras – from the Civil War through the 1990s – and a range of artistic fields, from photography to music.  

Stops along the tour include some of the artists’ former homes (not open to the public), as well as local landmarks such as BLDG 92 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Fort Greene Park and Pratt Institute.

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Among the artists featured on the tour are:


  • Richard Wright, author of “Uncle Tom’s Children,” “Native Son” (the first book by an African-American author to be featured by the Book of the Month Club) and “Black Boy.” He wrote “Native Son” in the late 1930s while living on Carlton Avenue in Fort Greene. In the 1950s, after being persecuted for having been a Communist (even though he later repudiated Communism), he left the U.S. to live in Paris.

  • Little Anthony (Gourdine), lead singer of 1950s and ‘60s R&B and doo-wop group Little Anthony and the Imperials. Gourdine grew up in the Fort Greene projects. His group had two periods of popularity: the first in the late 1950s, with songs like “Tears on My Pillow” and “Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko Bop,” and the second in the mid-1960s, with more sophisticated arrangements like “Going Out of My Head” and “Hurt So Bad.”

  • Slide Hampton, jazz trombonist, who also has lived on Carlton Avenue. Hampton, who broke into the jazz scene in the 1950s, has played with many big bands, including Lionel Hampton, Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman and more. He has taught music at Harvard, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Indiana and elsewhere.

  • Alternative hip-hop group Digable Planets, whose 1994 album, “Blowout Comb,” had many references to Fort Greene. The three-member group, which formed in 1989, had both hip-hop and jazz influences. Its last performance took place in 2012.

  • Photographer Wesley Fagan, who was the official photographer for the Brooklyn Navy Yard during its heyday. A World War II veteran, Fagan began working at the Navy Yard as a messenger, but his supervisors quickly promoted him when they became aware of his talents. He died in 2012 at the age of 101.

  • Emilio Cruz, a painter of Cuban descent who spent most of his life in New York, including Fort Greene. His work can be found at the Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and elsewhere.

  • Charles Dorsey and Maritcha Lyons, early Brooklyn educators. In the late 19th century, Lyons taught at “Colored School No. 1” in Brooklyn, where Dorsey was principal, before becoming an assistant principal on her own. She fought to end segregation in the city’s schools. Both were active in the Brooklyn Literary Union, which sought to increase literacy in the black community.


To access the tour, visit or visit the iTunes store, where it is available for free. 

The tour was made possible by a generous donation from Femme Vocale, a voiceover studio who produced the tour, and the donated talents of voice actors Crystal Sershen and Dave Fennoy.



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