Black women’s history of resistance

Sharon Christie, Stephanie Zinerman NYS – Assembly, Keisha Lewars (STK), Mary Louise Patterson, Fela Barcliff. Photo: Amadi Ajamu

The December 12th Movement’s Stop the Killing (STK) campaign organizers held a special tribute on March 17 for four women who have significantly impacted our community in the spirit of resistance. Majid Gadsden opened the celebration, giving a brief history of the STK organizing efforts and their commitment to building a stronger community. “We are proud to honor our Sisters, who have been on the frontline of our resistance.”

The moderator, Keisha Lewars, then welcomed the distinguished panel, which included Mary Louise Patterson. Patterson introduced herself as a retired pediatrician, daughter of two political activists who were members of the U.S. Communist Party, and stalwart veteran of the civil rights movement.  

Stephanie Zinerman, NYS Assemblywoman said “I am privileged to be representing the people of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crowne Heights. I was born with three strikes, being Black, female, and poor, so I feel like I’ve lived a life of resistance from my first breath.” 

Sharon Christie, a community activist and tenant association organizer at the Louis Armstrong Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Ms. Christie began with her history, “I am from Jamaica, I came here when I was 17 years old. There was a lot of resistance growing up in high school. They would say you don’t talk like us. I’d say what do you mean? I talk just fine. My father was a fighter. I was a little timid, I had to learn, and he taught me to fight back. I’ve lived in Louis Armstrong Houses since 1996. I am happy to be here, and I want to share.”

As an active STK member, Keisha added, “I just want to say a little more about Sister Sharon Christie. We’ve been doing a lot of work in Armstrong, and she has been in the forefront of the tenant’s association. She is the first person we call. She is always there and she’s always ready. And because of her those tenants now have access to the community center. We just want to thank you for being here.”

Fela Barcliff, an educator, who has built an institution focusing on early childhood education – Little Sun People. “I am now retiring from running an early childhood center after 44 years. I came to Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn as a toddler from the southern United States and have been here pretty much all my life. From elementary school to college, I was educated in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Back then they were called ghetto schools, and they were. I hated those schools and educated myself in the library. Brooklyn Public Library was one of the gifts to me. Those schools did not teach anything about Black people except that we were well taken care of happy slaves. Movies portrayed us as barbarians. When I was 11 years old, I heard Malcolm X. I was dumbfounded. This man was saying things that I have never heard before. That was a life changing experience.” 

The lively discussion covered a myriad of political, social, and economic issues. Ms. Patterson spoke extensively about the history of Black women in resistance. There was a dynamic discourse with audience members. Many young activists were in attendance, asking for direction and strategies for resistance in the current political atmosphere. The questions and answers sharpened the dialogue exponentially. It was a learning opportunity for everyone. 

For more information on how to get involved with the Stop the Killing campaign, contact Sistas’ Place at (718) 398-1766 or email


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