was Second Ward, a huge community of more than seven thousand families, one hundred and ten recorded street level businesses was a place rich in cultural, educational, spiritual and entrepreneurial activities. Its former residents long since removed from the area by Urban Renewal still call Brooklyn “home.”
Beginning in the late 1800s, into the 1900s until the 1940s and early 50s, Brooklyn had become “ a city within a city”. Anything you wanted or needed for your daily life, you could buy in Brooklyn. The community became a Mecca for African Americans traveling the eastern seaboard into Charlotte.
(The community was so self-sufficient; when I was commissioned to write a play on Brooklyn I titled it “The Second City”.)
After slavery ended, just as the confederacy moved out of the city, the first eighteen African American churches were built in Brooklyn. The construction of these churches of every denomination took place for the most part during the night. Women bearing lanterns and baskets of food helped as the men worked to nearly dawn building churches that are still remembered.
The community housed the first Afro-American high school known as Second Ward. Educators from throughout the city combined efforts to make Second Ward High School one of the leading high schools in the state of North Carolina. An interesting and little known fact is, at night the basement of the school became Carver College, a Junior College established to educate veterans returning home after World War II.
became a center for national entertainers from Fats Waller who was often heard at the Ebony Guest House singing “Oh, your feets too big, I don’t love you ‘cause your feets too big”. Cab Calloway played here and Billie Holiday performed at Myers Street School for the elementary school kids in their classrooms. And there were frequent visitors like Jackie Moms Mabley, Nat King Cole and big bands and small chittlering circuit’s bands traveling north to south and back again. Brooklyn was Second Ward.