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Street sign honoring the Godfather of Soul will finally rise behind Apollo Theater

A street sign renaming a Harlem block behind the Apollo Theater “James Brown Way” in honor of the Godfather of Soul will finally rise next month, six years after city elected officials signed off on it.

Harlem historian Jacob Morris led the effort to have 126th St. between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Frederick Douglass Blvds. behind the Apollo Theater named for the legendary singer. Morris said he spent several years searching for a partner – he finally teamed with the National Black Theatre – and planning an appropriate ceremony.

“I didn’t want to put the sign up until we could do a ceremony that’s of James Brown stature and would do justice to what a giant he was,” said Morris.

Brown died in 2006 at 73.

The Rev. Al Sharpton will be the keynote speaker at the Nov. 22 street renaming and Brown’s relatives, including his daughter Deanna Brown Thomas, 45, will attend.

Brown’s appearances at the Apollo Theater put him on the road to stardom. After his death, his body lay in state at the iconic Harlem theater for a final tribute.

“It is where the eyes of the world came to watch my father,” said Brown Thomas. “If he was here he’d be thanking God for people loving him enough to put his name on that street.”

 

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