Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Syl Williamson was born in Winston Salem, North Carolina. He was orphaned at a young age and raised by his grandmother and great-grandmother thereafter. The two women motivated Syl with their wisdom and grace as he grew into a young man. In their teachings, the two prepared Syl for the trials that African American men faced in the South during the height of Jim Crow; these lessons helped Syl develop his sense of justice, independence and activism. With the grandmother and great-grandmother's passing into the Promised Land, Syl found his way to Brooklyn in 1951 in his journey to success.
It was in Bedford Stuyvesant that Syl met his wife Elzora and sister-in-law, Myrna. Together, they gave true meaning to what we know as Kwanzaa's principle of "collective work and responsibility." Inspired by the great orators of the Civil Rights Movement, Syl Williamson decided to open his own business in 1963. God blessed Syl Williamson with a vision to create a niche in selling, plaques, trophies and awards. The Civil Rights Movement inspired the Crown Heights community to "Buy Black."

Trophies by "Syl," quickly became popular throughout the area.
Within five years, Syl married, and the trio relocated their incorporation to Nostrand Avenue. Jackie Robinson had paved the way for African Americans in sports, and Syl began selling sporting goods in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The coupling of sporting goods with awards brought people from all over to Trophies by "Syl." The shop, now known as Legacy Awards, located at the corner of Nostrand Avenue and Park Place is a landmark in the community. The walls of the enterprise are adorned with a mural recognizing great African Americans of the world. It depicts the African American voyage from the great cities of Africa to those of the United States and the Caribbean. Syl valued the importance of education and wanted people, especially young people, to know the history of African-American people in the United States. For Syl, the store was a way of reaching out to the community and providing a place to nurture and mentor young people who looked to him for guidance and emotional support.

Crowned with his trademark Afro and beard, this entrepreneur made patronizing his business an experience. Upon entrance to Syl's enterprise, a copper bell on a tethered leather cord announced one's presence. Syl's warm smile and extra firm handshake greeted each customer. His gray hair and beard indicated his sagacity and his willingness to share God's love with all he encountered. Syl was a committed Christian an active church member, serving for many years as deacon at Emmanuel Baptist Church. Only through God's mercy was Syl able to persevere.

All who knew him will miss Syl's warm smile, his firm handshakes and his love of life.

1 comment:

RunawayTrane said...

Nice tribute. Wish there were some pictures to go with it