How Hakeem Jeffries Became the Barack of Brooklyn

March 2, 2011  |  

(New York Observer) — The emcee invoked Matthew 16:24. “Jesus said to his followers if anyone wants to follow me, he must say no to the things he wants. He must be willing to even die on the cross and he must follow me.”  Hundreds of parishioners had gathered in the basement of the 96-year-old Brown Memorial Church in Clinton Hill for Pastor Appreciation Night. But before they could settle in for a dinner of green salad, fruit cup, turkey with stuffing and grilled tilapia, they had to sit through a keynote address-and more of the emcee.

“We know this man is talented,” he went on. “And we know he is going to do even bigger and better things, but we also know how much he has sacrificed. … The one, the only, the Honorable Hakeem Jeffries!” The parishioners and many far beyond central Brooklyn have been expecting bigger and better things from Hakeem Jeffries since before he was even a candidate for the Assembly. His funky first name, his appeal to both black churchgoers and earnest reform types and his academic pedigree-graduate degree from Georgetown University, law degree from N.Y.U.-have earned him the label “Brooklyn’s Barack.”

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