On Wednesday, three Brooklyn parks were included in 16 parks citywide that were renamed in honor of the Black experience in New York City.

Prospect Park Bandshell will now be known as Lena Horne Bandshell in honor of Lena Horne, a trailblazing dancer, actress and singer in theater, film and television who was born in Bed-Stuy. Horn was also active on issues of social justice and civil rights. 

Underhill Playground has been renamed James Forten Playground after prominent abolitionist and vice president of the Anti-Slavery Society, James Forten. During the Revolutionary War, Forten was temporarily imprisoned at Brooklyn’s Wallabout Bay near what is today the Navy Yard.

And Middleton Playground will now be called Sarah J.S. Tompkins Garnet Playground. A leading educator and suffragist, Sarah J.S. Tompkins Garnet was the first Black female principal in the New York City public schools.

The parks were renamed to represent educators, Civil Rights leaders, pioneers in the LGBTQ+ community, novelists, playwrights, abolitionists and more, NYC Parks Department said in a press release.

Photo: NYC Parks /Malcolm Pinckney

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, said that over the past year 28 park spaces had been named in honor of the Black experience. “It is our commitment to change in action,” he said.

“These greenspaces and park facilities are critical resources in the communities they serve and we want to ensure that they bear names that inspire pride, encourage meaningful discourse, and represent the people it serves.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio thanked NYC Parks for creating and maintaining the city’s green spaces “for all New Yorkers to enjoy and for their tireless work on racial justice.”

“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,” he said.

Other newly renamed parks across the five boroughs feature some of the most recognizable names in African American history, including Malcolm X and Lorraine Hansberry; local community leaders like Rev. Foster, and the musicians who represent the historic Addisleigh neighborhood in Queens.

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  1. Very cool— Forten was from Philadephia, imprisoned at 14 by the Brits on the “Jersey” prison ship in NY during Rev War— survived when over 50% there died— see Burrows, Forgotten Patriots!!! Forten was an amazing man!!!

  2. Underhill Playground has been renamed James Forten Playground after prominent abolitionist and vice president of the Anti-Slavery Society, James Forten. During the Revolutionary War, Forten was temporarily imprisoned at Brooklyn’s Wallabout Bay near what is today the Navy Yard.— Forten was from Philadephia… see Burrows, Forgotten Patriots!!! Great man!!!

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