Since tensions boiled over during the Crown Heights riots 25 years ago, residents and community leaders have worked hard to create better relationships between the different ethnic groups. Brooklyn reporter Jeanine Ramirez takes a look at the progress made in the neighborhood.
At Hamilton Metz Park in Crown Heights, it's not unusual to see blacks and Jews playing a game of pick up basketball 25 years after the riots where the ethnic groups clashed.
"Times change. You know things get better. Crown Heights is a lot different than what it used to be. It's better for everybody," said Anthony Berezine, a Crown Heighst resident.
On the corner where Gavin Cato was tragically run down by a Hasidic driver in 1991 sparking three days of riots, flags now fly as the neighborhood gets ready for the annual West Indian-American Day Parade. Where Yankel Rosenbaum was fatally stabbed, a mobile Jewish center is set up. Tensions have eased among the different groups that share the streets.
"We're in a very different place than we were 25 years ago. It's a work in progress. We've really worked very very hard," said Devorah Halberstam of the Jewish Children's Museum.
Part of that effort was creating a community database so leaders can contact each other immediately should an issue arise.
"We're not shooting for nirvana. But we know that people can communicate with one another," said Richard Green of the Crown Heights Youth Collective.
"We're friendly with our neighbors. But we have our lives," said Rabbi Jacob Goldstein, Retired Chairman of Community Board 9.
Now Crown Heights is experiencing gentrification and long time residents are dealing with the pressure of rising rents.
"The changes that have taken place recently have actually brought us together more in terms of the more traditional residents. Jewish families and African American families and Caribbean families are all equally presed when it comes to paying the high rents that have become very prevalent over here now," said Eli Cohen, Executive Director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council.
Documenting all of these changes is the Brooklyn Historical Society which is putting together an oral history project called the Voices of Crown Heights. It's incorporating residents interviews from 1993 recorded on cassette tapes and updating its collection with new testimonials.
"The guiding theme of this project is listening to the unheard. What did we not hear 25 years ago? What do we still need to listen to?" said Zaheer Ali, an oral historian at the Brooklyn Historical Society.
"We then describe those collections in a way that's very objective and is available online," said Julie May, the archives managing director at the Brooklyn Historical Society.
The Brooklyn Historical Society will be collecting oral histories from residents here in Crown Heights over the next two years.
For more information on the project, visit brooklynhistory.org.