Almost all of his neighbors on Cambridge Place were working-class homeowners, and the children would play in the streets without a worry. But much of that changed during the civil unrest of the 1960s during Grannum’s transition into adolescence.
“A lot of businesses fled and the neighborhood became less safe,” he remembers. “When I was younger we got mugged a lot, but in our teens we got a lot bigger than the muggers so that stopped happening.”
Despite the issues affecting the community at large during that part of his life, Grannum says his parents didn’t let that stop them from pushing to ensure their sons received every opportunity available to young men in the making.
He and his brothers were among the first children to be bused out of Bed-Stuy to attend school in another neighborhood, something Grannum says helped expand his horizons at an early age.
Through his continued exposure to a diverse array of communities, Grannum says he came to understand that the difference between success and failure for many depended not on innate abilities, but on whether or not they had someone in their life encouraging them along the way.
“Even when I was younger, I just had a sense that some people were fortunate to have supportive interventions. They weren’t necessarily more talented, they were just fortunate to have support,” Grannum says. “Neither of my parents graduated from high school but they were very smart people who did well economically because of very wise, conservative decisions. That’s the way it played out in my life.”
This observation is now an integral aspect of Grannum’s life philosophy, the same philosophy that led him to accept the position of Bed-Stuy Restoration Corporation president 15 years ago.
He believes it is crucial for young men and women of all ethnic backgrounds to know that top-tier positions are out there for them, and that is why Grannum is proud to be a part of the Restoration legacy.
“People are very visual. It’s about what people see as opportunities for them. One of the things that Restoration offers is, our staff is predominantly people of color,” he says. “When we go out into the community, for example, our CFO is a woman from the Caribbean.
“We’re a multi-million dollar agency, and we can send women out who are African American and have budgets of $7 million to talk to young people about how this could be a career path for them,” he added.
And in that, Grannum finds fulfillment.