Hendersonville – The Green Meadows Community annual festival is paying homage to the memory and history of “Brooklyn,” the name locals use to refer to the Green Meadows Community and 7th Avenue area in Hendersonville. Join organizers Crystal Cauley, Reggie Harrison, Bilalian Caldwell, Indian Jackson and the Green Meadows/Brooklyn community on Sunday, Sept. 5 from 1pm to 7pm for a day of games, entertainment and food. Join the event at Sullivan Park’s basketball court.
History of Brooklyn
In 1972, Hendersonville’s “Urban Renewal” project transformed a predominantly African-American community known as the Brooklyn community. Developers changed the landscape, thus destroying the homes and lives of many residents. At this time, the Brooklyn community that spans from Seventh Avenue to Ashe Street was renamed Green Meadows to rebrand the area. The name change marked the beginning of a long history of gentrification—current inhabitants were displaced who no longer could afford to live there.
“Brooklyn was a place that depicted the true meaning of community. A place filled with love…Everybody loved, looked out for, parented all of each other’s children. It was the village, the place you loved to go back to,” said longtime Brooklyn resident Diane Caldwell. “The spirit of God who was with us in Brooklyn still remains, in a large part, in “Green Meadows” today. For me and many, it will always be Brooklyn!”
Crystal Cauley worries that many current residents do not know the important Black history of the community. The stories of the neighborhood are dying with each successive generation, she says. There is little-to-no information about the Brooklyn community in the historical record.
“The city preserves the history but they’re overlooking African-American history like they always have,” Cauley says. “As of today, there’s really nowhere [in Hendersonville] you can go and see African-American history. There is a heritage museum at the old courthouse, and I’ve made complaints, and I’ve had meetings with them last month, about the fact that there’s a lack of representation of African-American history.”
Beginning a few months ago, Hendersonville is looking into rebranding the Green Meadows community to the “Seventh Avenue District.” Cauley and other interested residents have fought back against this change, suggesting that the neighborhood’s name revert to Brooklyn.
“We need to preserve Brooklyn history. Amongst locals, and in recent history, this area has always been called Brooklyn,” Cauley remarks.
The first Brooklyn name-change event, hosted by Cauley, was at the Boys and Girls Club last month. Since then, Hendersonville has delayed the branding project.
“In fact, because there is some confusion, the city’s decided today to delay our branding project until the neighborhood decides whether they’re going to change their name,” City Manager John Connet said to WLOS.
There’s a rich history of community events in the Brooklyn neighborhood. The Sept. 5 community event nods to an older celebration that once commenced in the Brooklyn community, “Harambe,” a Kenyan word meaning “all pull together.” The 2021 event also seeks to pull together: former Brooklyn community members, current residents and anyone seeking good food and fun.
“It’s been 16 years since this community has had an event and we are hoping the Annual Community Fest will be a success. We’re planning a larger event similar to Harambee for 2022,” Cauley says.
Entertainment includes a tribute dance by a 24-member group called the Carolina Diva Diamonds. This group will do a hip-hop dance routine wearing dance attire from the 1990s.
A live band will play and DJ Twan will entertain the crowd with music. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs to enjoy community leaders speaking such as Eric Gash, who is running for NC District 11 U.S. Congress seat, and Raphael Morales, who is running for Hendersonville City Council. Community outreach groups are hosting a table to register to vote. Smartstart Partnership for Children will donate free children’s books.
Financial advisors will be present, including community and business leaders Diana Casteel, Jamaal Payne, Tasha Hicks, Alicia Logan, Pear Waddell and more.
There’s no fee to enter the event. Organizers request that attendees bring cash for vendors.
Food vendors at the event include H&C BBQ, 4Ds Sweet Dreams Ice Cream, Bakeology and Bean Pies by James Muhammad.
This is the first event catered by H&C BBQ, Reggie Harrison and Lolly Caldwell’s recent venture. They are serving barbeque staples including ribs, chicken, rib tips, hotdogs, hamburgers and more.
Harrison says he is “100%” behind Cauley’s mission to preserve Brooklyn’s history.
“I read some articles on her and that really kind of inspired me to get involved,” Harrison says.
Harrison and Caldwell are cooking up a special sandwich named, “The Brooklyn.” It’s a pulled chicken sandwich with a special Carolina sauce and coleslaw sandwiched between two deep-fried waffles.
To contact H&C BBQ catering, email email@example.com. For more information about the community event, email Crystal: firstname.lastname@example.org.