Grandmaster Maurice Ashley was one of the esteemed honorees that also included championship boxer Mike Tyson, actress Bern Nadette Stanis (Thelma of “Good Times”) and legendary football player Otis Wilson (Chicago Bears). Christian Whitted posted on social media platforms an event honoring the sons and daughters of the Brownsville Brooklyn area. The event took place on June 11th at the Van Dyke Community Center in Brooklyn.
The honorees were immortalized in a handsome 60-foot-tall “We are Brownsville” mural. The event had a festive atmosphere with face-painting, prize-givings, food, and of course chess! The inspiration for the creation came from artist William Ellis’ idea that far too many tributes of people in the community had been “rest in peace” murals. He sought to change this pattern to provide inspiration to future generations. The seventeen icons had been chosen carefully as those who had “put Brownsville on the map in a positive way.” GM Ashley tweeted.
To be on the same mural with Rosetta Gaston, Bern Nadette Stanis, Mike Tyson, World B. Free, Riddick Bowe, Willie Randolph, and many others who grew up in Brownsville, Brooklyn and made a name for ourselves is an honor beyond words. Destiny is blind to zip codes. pic.twitter.com/6ifi8zW8E6— Maurice Ashley (@MauriceAshley) June 10, 2022
Lisa Kenner, the Brownsville Resident Association President gave an account of how much of an impact such a project can make on the community. The mural is positioned on the facade of a 12-story affordable housing complex called, “Van Dyke III.” There is another facade in an adjacent building and perhaps another chess player will grace those walls. Congratulations GM Ashley!