PROSPECT LEFFERTS GARDENS – Lamuel used to lay awake at night wondering whether he could pay a $99 a month mortgage for a brick row house situated on Rutland Rd. between Flatbush and Bedford Avenues, his son Eugene Stanislaus remembered.
On Saturday, June 15, 65 years after Lamuel A. Stanislaus purchased the home that kept him up at night, the corner of Flatbush Ave. and Rutland Rd. in Prospect Lefferts was renamed in honor of his contributions to the Caribbean-American community of central Brooklyn. The renaming ceremony brought together family, community members and elected officials to celebrate Stanislaus’ career as a Grenadian diplomat and dentist and featured speeches by those close to him.
Stanislaus’ legacy remains scattered across Brooklyn— through his work on the West Indian Day Parade, an annual celebration of Caribbean culture that draws more than two million participants to Eastern Parkway, and Brooklyn Heights Dental, a family practice he founded in 1956. Yet Stanislaus is most often remembered as an emissary of Grenadian culture in his role as Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations, a position he held from 1985-1990 and again from 1996-2004.
“We grew up on this block, this is where we were raised, with just a terrific father and a terrific mother, always emphasized family and giving all the glory to God was also part of his mantra,” Eugene Stanislaus said. “He was always very active in Caribbean-American politics and he was one of the original founders of the West Indian Day Carnival […] He was involved from the very beginning, organizing the police to come and oversee and the event, and was the first one to attract the politicians to come to the event.”
Born in 1921 in Petite Martinique, a small island near Grenada, Stanislaus moved to Grenada in 1933 to attend the Grenada Boys’ Secondary School. After graduating in the early 1940s, Stanislaus arrived in the United States to study at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he pursued Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degrees. Between 1953 and 1985, Stanislaus practiced dentistry at Brooklyn Heights Dental before being appointed to the UN.
Monsignor Paul Jervis of St. Francis of Assisi-St. Blaise Church spoke at the renaming ceremony. Jervis said Stanislaus not only built a successful life for himself and his family in the United States, but also served as a point of inspiration for other members of the Carribean-American community.
“What a wonderful day it is for us to come here and to celebrate the memory of a great man, a man who made the way so that many people can follow and become successful,” Jervis said. “This was a man who made a way for us in so many ways— he made a way for the Caribbean people to get a better life, to enjoy their rights here in the United States.”
In December 2018, 35 city council members sponsored Intro. 1300, a bill that called for the co-naming of 68 streets and public spaces across the five boroughs— including Lamuel A. Stanislaus Way. Among the co-sponsors of the bill was Councilmember Mathieu Eugene who represents District 40, which includes Prospect Lefferts Gardens.
In his speech, Eugene highlighted Stanislaus’ strong family values and work ethic. Echoing Jervis’ statement, Eugene also noted how Stanislaus’ commitment to the Carribean-American community of Brooklyn motivated him to run for the New York City Council, especially as a Haitian immigrant in the United States.
“I had the opportunity to know him, to meet him, and to be with him several times and several evenings, and I can tell you, even before I was elected, I think that I was inspired by what he was doing,” Eugene said. “I saw him everywhere and in any organization, any activities way before I was elected, and as a Caribbean myself, as an immigrant, I feel proud. I feel very proud.”
According to Eugene Stanislaus, Stanislaus was appointed to the UN after the election of Herbert Blaize as Prime Minister of Grenada in 1984. While Stanislaus served as Grenada’s Ambassador to the UN for nearly 13 years, he also assumed the roles of Grenada’s Ambassador-at-Large and Deputy Permanent Representative for two years during his tenure at the UN. Stanislaus negotiated the construction of a separate UN consulate for all of the Caribbean nations, the creation of which Eugene Stanislaus claims is his father’s biggest accomplishment as UN ambassador.
Stanislaus worked with other Caribbean-American activists and leaders, including politician and 1972 presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm, to build a support network and advocate for the rights of Caribbean-Americans in Brooklyn. Eugene Stanislaus said despite his father’s fame and success, he retained his humility and always put the needs of others at the forefront of his work.
“My father was the most intelligent man I’ve ever met, very well-known but always very humble,” Eugene Stanislaus said. “My father was a tall man in stature, but he never looked down on anyone. He would treat the janitor the same way he would treat the CEO of a company.”
Notable speakers at the renaming ceremony included Marty Markowitz, former Brooklyn borough president and Roy Hastick, the president and founder of the Caribbean-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), among others.