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Parks in Queens Renamed in Honor of Famous African Americans–Including Gwen Ifill and Malcolm X

Gwen Ifill (Photo courtesy of Flickr/PBS) NewsHour

June 17, 2021 By Ryan Songalia

The NYC Parks Dept. renamed 16 sites and parks—including three in Queens—in honor of famous African Americans yesterday.

The announcement Wednesday follows the launch of a program last June to rename various public spaces in honor of Black New Yorkers to bring attention to the Black experience in New York.

The total number of places renamed since the initiative began is now 28. The newly-named spaces represent educators, Civil Rights leaders, pioneers in the LGBTQ+ community, novelists, playwrights, abolitionists and more.

The Parks Dept., which announced the initiative amid the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, says the program is aimed at acknowledging the legacies of Black Americans and to show solidarity in the fight against systemic racism.

The new names announced yesterday include tributes to African Americans from Queens.

A park in Jamaica has been renamed after Gwen Ifill, the first Black woman to anchor a nationally televised public affairs program in the country. Ifill, who was born and raised in Jamaica Queens, anchored the PBS program Washington Week in Review from 1999 until her death in 2016.

Gwen Ifill Park is now the new name for what was Railroad Park. That public space is currently undeveloped, though there is $21 million in capital funding to build out the green space.

Meanwhile, the Flushing Promenade was yesterday renamed Malcolm X Promenade after the civil rights leader who lived in nearby East Elmhurst.

A section of St. Albans Park known as the Oval was also renamed the Musician’s Oval in honor of Black jazz pioneers who called the Addisleigh neighborhood their home, like Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, and Lena Horne.

“Our parks and greenspaces are critical community spaces, and these renamings in honor of the Black experience are physical reminders of the contributions and legacies of Black New Yorkers across our city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I thank NYC Parks for their commitment to maintaining and creating these beautiful green spaces for all New Yorkers to enjoy and for their tireless work on racial justice.”

The renamed parks will have their welcome signs designed in the red, black and green colors of the Pan-African flag. The signs will be installed by the end of August 2021.

Other Queens sites that have been renamed since the program began last year include Ella Fitzgerald Playground at Kissena Corridor Park, and Helen Marshall Playground in East Elmhurst.

For the full list of park renamings across NYC click here

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