Fort Greene

Marie Pearl Conner


Marie Pearl Conner (1919-2012) was a mother—nurturing, perceptive, kind, and rigorous. On school days, she woke up before dawn to iron and starch her daughters’ dresses. She would do this for her seven children and for the children of a neighborhood mom who had worked the late shift the previous night, no questions asked. In the evening, when the kids returned from school, something was always cooking at her house on Ashland Place. For kids up and down the block, her home became the center of their world.

When her daughters Fannie, Natelege, and Amaka, as well as her granddaughter, Kidada, recount Mrs. Conner’s decades spent in Fort Greene, her contributions to the neighborhood and its history are clear. At a time before black women were even allowed to be nurses, Mrs. Conner worked as a cook at the Brooklyn Hospital. She went on to establish the Robert Conner Memorial Family School, a place where black children could receive a well-rounded cultural education. And she was a voice for the neighborhood, advocating for the repurposing of vacant lots as community spaces, gardens, and more.

Mrs. Conner had a vision for Fort Greene, long before our city orchestrated envisioning workshops. She was a pillar of nourishment for the neighborhood.

Text by

Ivan Valladares

Ivan Valladares is a ponderer, reader, and (occasional) writer. He works at the New York City Council connecting New Yorkers to government services, from neighborhood food pantries to their local park manager.

Thank you to Kidada Fields, Fannie Conner, Natalege Conner and Amaka Conner for gathering on September 25, 2018 to share stories of Ms. Conner.

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