Credit: NYC Parks /Malcolm Pinckney
New York City this week renamed more than a dozen park spaces in honor of notable Black Americans. In every borough, select green spaces now bear the names of Civil Rights leaders, novelists, educators, LGBTQ+ leaders, and more. Last summer, the city’s Parks Department pledged solidarity with the Black community and announced plans to rename parks across the city to honor Black Americans who have local or national recognition. Since then, 28 park sites have been given a new name.
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Screenshot courtesy of NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
The Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday released an interactive story map that explores significant buildings, districts, and sites in New York City that are related to Black history and culture. The project highlights 75 individual landmarks and 33 historic districts associated with African American figures and historical events across the five boroughs dating to before the Civil War up to today, from the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan to the East 25th Street Historic District in Flatbush.
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“Alphas Hold the Line.” Photo by Michael Young.
During the month of February, the nation observes Black History Month as a way to celebrate and honor African American history and culture. While this year’s commemoration will be different because of the pandemic, many New York City organizations and institutions are hosting virtual events, lectures, and exhibitions. Learn about the achievements and influence of Black Americans with an online walking tour featuring Black artists of Greenwich Village, a concert honoring composers of the Harlem Renaissance, a class on Black archaeology in New York City, and much more.
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New York’s famous 369th (Old 15th) Infantry Regiment arrives home from France. From the National Archives via Wikimedia Commons
By the end of World War II, the Croix de Guerre, France’s highest military honor, would be awarded to the 369th Infantry Regiment. Better known as the Harlem Hellfighters, the regiment was an all-black American unit serving under French command in World War I, and they spent a stunning 191 days at the Front, more than any other American unit. In that time, they never lost a trench to the enemy or a man to capture. Instead, they earned the respect of both allies and enemies, helped introduce Jazz to France, and returned home to a grateful city where hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers turned out to welcome home 3,000 Hellfighter heroes in a victory parade that stretched from 23rd Street and 5th Avenue to 145th Street and Lenox.
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Photo Credit: Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Alliance
The last remaining farmhouse in Manhattan will explore a new side of its over 200-year history with an art exhibit. Inwood’s landmarked Dyckman Farmhouse Museum on Tuesday will open the exhibition Unspoken Voices: Honoring the Legacy of Black America, which will highlight the history of the enslaved and free Black residents that lived and worked at the farm. Unspoken Voices, which coincides with the museum’s reopening, includes work by five local artists who hope to bring these previously untold stories to light.
February marks Black History Month, a nationwide celebration of African American culture and history. New Yorkers will have plenty of opportunities to honor the contributions made by the black community, with live performances, guided tours, comedy shows, art installations, and more events happening across the city. From the Apollo Theater’s open house celebration to spoken word performances at Brooklyn barbershops, pay tribute to the achievements of black Americans this February, as well as all year round.
The full list, ahead
Photo by Si B on Flickr
As part of the city’s plan to diversify public art and recognize figures overlooked by history in New York City, Central Park is getting another statue, as the New York Times reports. The privately-funded monument will commemorate Seneca Village, the predominantly black community that was thriving until the 1850s in what became Central Park. Once again, however, the city’s commemorative statue planning has fallen afoul of historians. The proposed structure won’t be located at the site of Seneca Village, which for nearly three decades stretched between West 83rd and 89th streets in Central Park. Instead, the monument’s home will be in the park, but 20 blocks to the north on 106th street.
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“Harlem Street Scene Showing Local Businesses,” 1939, Photographer: Sid Grossman, Street Scenes Collection, Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture courtesy of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
“A Ballad for Harlem,” the new exhibit now on view at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, explores the history of the neighborhood and celebrates Black placemaking in 20th and 21st century America. The exhibit uses photographs, manuscripts, objects, art and sculpture from the Schomburg’s collection to revisit “Harlem’s places, people, and moments—both known and underrepresented—that capture the realities of community and hardship experienced by Black Americans.” Ahead, hear from curator Novella Ford to learn more about the show.
To celebrate Black History Month, ride-hailing company Lyft is offering one free ride to black-owned businesses, history museums, and memorials in New York City. According to the company, 82 percent of Lyft drivers identify with a minority group, which makes the company “see the importance of celebrating the diversity that we have right around us.”