Bed-Stuy block to be named after historic Nevis-born Brooklyn politician

A block in Brooklyn will be named after Bertram Baker, the borough’s first African-American assemblyman, Jared McCallister reports for the New York Daily News.

Street signs co-naming a Bedford-Stuyvesant block for Nevis-born Bertram Baker, the borough’s first African-American assemblyman, will be erected on Saturday in a special ceremony. Legislative approval co-naming the Jefferson Ave. block (between Tompkins and Throop Aves.) Bertram L. Baker Way came last year.

Baker’s grandchildren will be joined by other relatives, supporters and neighborhood residents for the ceremony, part of the Jefferson Avenue Block Association’s annual block party.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, accompanied by his wife, Diane, is scheduled to be one of the speakers at the 3 p.m. event. Also on hand will be freelance journalist Ron Howell.

The event marks the historic contributions and achievements of Baker, a former resident who made history on several fronts.

Born on the Caribbean island of Nevis in 1898, Baker came to the United States in 1915 as a teenager. An accountant by profession, he rose in Brooklyn’s Democratic organization in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1948, he became an assemblyman – and Brooklyn’s first black elected official.

A respected politician, he held the post for 22 years and helped establish the state’s fair-housing law, the Metcalf-Baker Act. In 1966, he became Assembly majority whip, the first black person to hold the leadership position.

Bertram, who died in 1985 at age 87, was also a driving force in the American Tennis Association black tennis group and assisted the rise of tennis greats Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe.

At 4 p.m., after the ceremony, Gov. Patrick will be at the Common Grounds café, 376 Tompkins Ave., discussing and signing copies of his new book, “A Reason to Believe,” a memoir about how he became Massachusetts’ first black governor.

To RSVP for the book event, email

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