Fort Greene

Najee Omar

In the 90s, Najee was a dreamer. His Fort Greene community was filled with Black entrepreneurs who opened restaurants, stores, salons, barbershops, and more. Najee began to dream about all the possibilities and opportunities that were available to him, as they were available to the adults in his community. Now, he carries this first source of inspiration with him throughout his work and lifestyle. Home is incredibly important to Najee, and supports the foundations of his work.

“I want my writing to sound like my community, like the people that I grew up listening to in my household, the people in my barbershop or the folks on the corner that I walk past everyday towards the train,” said Najee, who values the energy and vernacular of Fort Greene. “It sounds like the best language in the world, in my opinion. It’s the language that feels most close to home.”

As New York City continues to change under the effects of COVID and capitalism, Najee hopes that Fort Greene can maintain the spirit it had when he was growing up there. 

“My wish for Fort Greene is that the Black people can remain. We belong here, just as much as anyone else who chooses to come.” Najee also hopes that institutions continue to make space for Black people through affordable housing, and preserve places where Black creatives share their art. 

Najee is a role model through his art and community involvement. His story is part of the legacy he leaves behind, as someone who was here. Whether he is teaching poetry on Rikers Island, hosting writing workshops across Brooklyn high schools, or facilitating his arts education organization Spark House, he is here. 

Najee is here. He is present through his professional work and through the compassion and love he carries with him everyday. 

And someday, he will inspire a community of creatives with his same dedication to Fort Greene.

Portrait by

Jonathan Lopez

Jonathan Lopez is a Brooklyn based video producer and photographer. From commercials to documentaries to social media work, Jonathan has had the opportunity to partner with brands across the country.

Text by

Audrey Yoo

Audrey Yoo is a software engineer and a rising senior at Brooklyn Technical High School, right by Fort Greene Park.

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