Longtime Brooklyn resident and artist Leroy McCarthy continues his fight to have a Clinton Hill street renamed after legendary rapper Christopher Wallace, also known as The Notorious B.I.G.
On Thursday, McCarthy will present his second proposal to Community Board 2 (CB2) to co-name a section of St. James Place near Fulton Street as “Christopher Wallace Way.”
“Biggie did great things in the community, when he was alive and even after. People around the world, when they hear the name Biggie, they think of Brooklyn,” said McCarthy, who was raised in Flatbush and has lived in Bedford Stuyvesant since the ’90s.
The Brooklyn artist has painted various murals around Bed-Stuy and is all about paying respect to cultural icons. In August, he created the Aretha Franklin tribute at the Franklin Avenue subway station.
McCarthy first introduced the “Christopher Wallace Way” proposal at a 2013 CB2 meeting, where he presented a petition with almost 4,000 signatures. The proposal was rejected.
“One person said, ‘He didn’t have the ‘physical characteristics of a role model.’ She mentioned that he died a violent death and that he sold drugs,” said McCarthy. “But that’s not his whole story. His artistic creativity allowed him to bring himself and his family up, and he put Brooklyn on the map.”
The tide may be turning for McCarthy. In September, City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo wrote a letter to the chair of the CB2, supporting the street name proposal, and citing his artistic legacy and his continued influence in the community.
“He was a Brooklyn icon then, and remains one to this day,” wrote Cumbo. “Christopher Wallace continues to have an enormous impact on the Brooklyn community and beyond. For these and other reasons, I strongly support the creation of ‘Christopher Wallace Way.'”
McCarthy’s goal is to champion hip-hop and to see it honored in its birthplace.
“I’m not a historian or an archivist, but I’m trying to be a cultural advocate,” McCarthy explained. “Hip-hop is a part of my culture and I’d like to see it recognized by the city it was birthed in. Celebrating Biggie would be a way to do that. New York has always benefitted from hip-hop, so it should honor its indigenous art and culture.”
Local residents who want to weigh in on McCarthy’s motion can join him Thursday, 6:00pm, at the CB2 meeting which will take place at Long Island University.
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