BED-STUY, BROOKLYN — Top Brooklyn leaders are mourning political icon Albert Vann, a former assembly and city councilman who mentored some of the top names from the borough.
Vann — who died last week at 87 years old — was known as a “bedrock of Bed-Stuy,” where he grew up and later represented for three decades in the state and city legislatures, according to reports.
His legacy includes mentoring some of the city’s most high-powered elected officials, including the New York Attorney General Letitia James, former City Councilmember Robert Cornegy and Mayor Eric Adams.
“We all sit on his shoulders of leadership,” Adams said in a statement. “As an educator and a trailblazer in public service, Al was a tireless champion of civil rights and Black community empowerment in Central Brooklyn and beyond. He not only impacted the city, but our entire country, and we’re better because of him. “
Born in 1934, Vann grew up in Bed-Stuy and joined the United State Marine Corps at 18 years old.
He is perhaps most known for his roles representing Central Brooklyn, first in the New York State Assembly from 1974 to 2001 and later in City Council from 2002 to 2013, according to Politics NY.
James got her political start as a staffer in Vann’s assembly office.
“While much more will be said about the life and legacy of Al Vann, it is safe to say that Brooklyn and all of New York lost a friend, a leader, and a legend,” the attorney general said. “May he rest in peace and in power.”
Before taking office, Vann was a public school teacher, leader of the African-American Teachers Association and fought for school decentralization in Ocean Hill and Brownsville, Politics NY reports.
He later found the Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA), spearheaded court cases that expanded minority representation in government and was one of the founders of Medgar Evers College, according to the outlet.
“You can chronologize his achievements and accomplishments and what he’s meant to the community. The sentiment, though, is hard to capture and how people are now feeling this profound sense of loss in their community,” said Cornegy, who succeeded Vann in City Council and credits him for his career in public service.
US Rep. Hakeem Jeffries was also among the leaders who found inspiration in Vann’s career.
“The loss of Mr. Vann is a void that we can never fill. But the countless people whose lives were touched by Al Vann, myself included, will forever be inspired to fight for change as a result of his tremendous life, legacy and his leadership,” Jeffries said. “Brooklyn loved Al Vann, and he loved Brooklyn.”