Fort Greene

Dorothy Berry

1937 - 2016

Known lovingly to many as, “The Mayor of Fort Greene,” Ms. Dorothy Berry dedicated her life to helping others, especially the residents of her beloved neighborhood. A pillar of the Ingersoll community, Ms. Berry was a champion of activism and civil rights, having marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, served as the Vice President of the Harlem chapter of the NAACP, and worked tirelessly as an advocate for tenants, youth, and families.

Ms. Berry loved to sing and was part of the 1960s girl group, The Rubies, best known for their recording of the classic song, “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart.” Her long legacy includes her instrumental role in invaluable Fort Greene programs such as Project Teenage, Fort Greene SNAP, and the Ingersoll Houses Tenant Association. Above all, Dorothy Berry’s legacy lives on in her beautiful family.

Quotes about Dorothy Berry:

“Everybody loved her. She couldn’t go anywhere without someone saying, “Hi, Ms. Berry!”

“She didn’t just fight for her children–she fought for everybody’s children. If you were a part of Fort Greene, Dorothy Berry was fighting for you.”

“Everything was family, family, family”

“She was one of the first people to really go out and get money for this community.”

“She opened the door for me before my own family did. What she did for other people who couldn’t do anything for her is greater than words can describe. That’s just who she was.” 

“She taught us that you have to keep encouraging yourself and others not to fall into a slump. You have to let yourself heal. If you need to cry, cry, but then you gotta get up and go; you gotta move.”

“She always pushed me to do things – write and publish my poetry, go to college, and become a baker. Now I own my own business because of her inspiring and motivating me.”

“Fort Greene was her baby. Fort Greene was her heart”


Portrait by

Liz Latty

Liz Latty is a writer, educator, and activist living in Fort Greene.

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