So many people knew and loved my father. My family and I willingly and proudly shared him with the broader Brooklyn community and the world. It wasn’t always easy, but we knew his work was his passion, it moved his spirit, it was his offering during his life walk. 

And as beloved and revered as he was, his commitment and devotion to his family was OUT OF THIS WORLD. He loved us with such intention, concern, and generosity. He had high expectations for us, but he had a soft heart, wise words, and endless patience. He wanted to see his children, grandchildren, nieces, and cousins thrive. He led our family with optimism and realism and above all devotion.

When his cancer treatment began to fail and he decided to stop treatments and transition on his own terms, he was hesitant about notifying his friends and community. I think he felt he was letting us down in some way. But with strong encouragement from his dear friend, Richard Jones, and family, he asked me to scribe his last words—which were filled with humility. It was my honor to do so.

His letter was a gift to his community, giving them a chance to say goodbye. In the weeks leading to his death, he saw dozens of loved ones who lifted his spirit and gained some sense of closure. We are grateful for the continued support we receive. 

We are hosting a two-day celebration of his life:

  • Friday, August 12th will be a semi-private memorial service at Boys and Girls High School at 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 13th will be a community day, open to all, on Fulton Street outside Bed Stuy Restoration starting at 12 p.m. 

More details are forthcoming.

Letter from Albert Vann:

Dear loved ones and friends,

I hope this message finds you in the best of health and spirit. I will get right to the point of my message. It has been over a year and a half since I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, which I only shared with my family. I’d like to thank my family for being strong and for keeping this a family matter.

I am doing well and am in good spirits. I realize that there is really no best time to send this message to you. And because you are all my family too, I wanted to share this news with you. I have come to face the fact that I will not survive my illness. It has curtailed my activities and is inoperable. But there is still a lot of life to be lived. And I’m planning to live mine until my last breath.

I have lived a truly blessed life. As a life-long Bed-Stuy resident, I, along with many of you, share the wonderful memories of our community. My activities with you have in so many ways resulted in achievements, victories, and accomplishments that have not only highlighted and touched my life immensely but enriched my spirit and brought joy to our friendships. Your devotion and contributions, no matter how large or small, have heightened the lives of our children, families, and communities.

I continue to pray that these accomplishments are a lighted pathway and an example to those who come behind us. There can be no greater legacy for us to leave than the service we have bestowed to others during our time on this earth.  

All that I ask of each of you is to keep living your lives to the fullest. Stay the course of helping one another and uplifting our Brooklyn community. 

I encourage you to reach out as the spirit moves you and, in any form, you choose to take. 

Thank you for your understanding and friendship.

With Much Love and Respect

Al Vann

Donations to the Al Vann Legacy Scholarship Fund can be made at:

Join the Conversation


  1. Rest in peace, Al Vann and rise in glory. Sympathy and love to the Vann family. May God continue to grant you all comfort, peace, grace and love. Blessings and love, James & Beverly Tempro

  2. I was graced to meet Al Vann thru Annette Robinson. I was the d.j. at his daughter’s birthday party at his home which just happened to be a block away from my parent’s home where I lived. Once I met Al Vann I realized he was the siren for equality, justice and growth in Brooklyn. So many other politicians have tried to fill his shoes during my 62 years of life. From Jesse Jackson campaigns at the former Vanguard Center on Fulton St. to Shoshana Johnson at Brooklyn’s Boro Hall … Al Vann was there supporting and sounding the alarm. I thank Al Vann, my parents and all of the village whom raised me. In the the words of Bishop Dr. Barbara Etta Austin-Lucas of The Agape Tabernacle International Fellowship, “Showing The World A More Excellent Way!” Al Vann and Family… Thank You!

  3. Brother Al Vann was the guest speaker @ Boys & Girls High School the same time my son Bajan Wright Graduated before going to the Army, brother Vann encouraged many in that light. my mom is Ann Colander A double cancer surviver and Writer for the Cancer Society of Sloan Kettering of many years. A member of the Fort Green Association Jazz Organization for Seniors would casually dance with brother Vann as members & friends alike all attended. he enjoyed stepping to the up tempo rhythms of the live entertaining bands. we will always remember him a tall gentleman and community leader well spoken in Brooklyn New York. God Bless you and family, fr: Brother James Wright III (a Graduate of I.S 35 and Boys and Girls High School ) my family to yours, Brother Albert Vann will always be a Bed -Stuy Rock ! Thank You !😎

  4. I know that there are many people who can say that Mr. Vann gave them or help them to get their 1st job. But He did that just for me when I tell you that he entrusted me with his last two heartbeats … Fola Azali & Binta Demali Vann whom I baby sat for the Vanns each and every time they had any outside of home event, Sam was there. I also lived with the Vanns temporarily when my mom thought I was a bit too much 😀 Mr. Vann was a gentle giant & Mrs. Vann was mom & they loved on me like I was one of their own. Thank You Scott, Shannon, Fola, Binta & Mrs. Vann for sharing Mr. Vann with me Love Sam💚💚💚💚💚

  5. In recognition and honor! I came to assist and you asked me to run for D16 School Board. That was years after my first interaction with you and Mrs Vann, in the fight for decentralization in Oceanhill Brownsville, Brooklyn. I, was a student at IS 55. You lit a fire that continues to burn! I thank you, that was over 5 decades ago!

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