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Herbert Von King Park

Von King Park Amphitheater Named In Honor Of Community Leader Almira Kennedy Coursey

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
No. 75

Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined City Council Member Albert Vann, Alma Carroll and Sidney Moshette of the Tompkins Park Recreation & Cultural Association, and Henrietta Coursey (daughter of Almira) to rename the amphitheatre in Herbert Von King Park in honor of Almira Kennedy Coursey (1914-1996) who lived a life of service and devotion to her community.

“Almira Kennedy Coursey helped to shape Von King Park from a passive town square into a bustling center of activity in Bedford Stuyvesant,” said Commissioner Benepe. “The programming and events that take place in the Coursey Amphitheater today will echo Almira’s enthusiasm for her community and devotion to the education of its young people.”
Born in New Bern, North Carolina, Almira Kennedy attended school in Winston-Salem and graduated from Saint Augustine’s College in 1934. Her strong attachment to her college led to a career in education. It was at this time that her dedication to community service began to take shape.

In the late 1940s, she moved to Bedford Stuyvesant, where she continued her career in education. She taught at Macon Junior High School while earning a master’s degree in student personnel administration at Teacher’s College. In 1968, she served as special assistant to the vice chancellor of the City University of New York where she developed programs to assist minority students. She worked with many advocacy groups in her surrounding neighborhood, and served on several city-wide committees on poverty and education under Mayors Wagner and Lindsay.

As one of the leaders of the Tompkins Park Recreation & Cultural Association, Almira Coursey was instrumental in the renovations of what was then called Tompkins Park (now Von King Park), including the establishment of the Eubie Blake Auditorium and the construction of the Kosciusko Pool. The recommendation for this naming of the amphitheatre was proposed by the Tompkins Park Recreation and Cultural Association and endorsed by Council Member Albert Vann and Community Board 3.

Acquired in 1857, Von King Park was one of the first parks established by the City of Brooklyn. It was originally named for Daniel D. Tompkins, an abolitionist who served four terms as governor of New York (1807-17) and two terms as vice president of the United States under James Monroe (1817-25). The Park has facilities that foster an appreciation for athletics and the arts. At the Von King Cultural Arts Recreation Center, the public can enjoy use of a computer resource center, performance stage, and art room. The Park also provides endless hours of enjoyment with its ballfields, handball courts and playgrounds.

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Know Before You Go

Recreation CentersHerbert Von King Cultural Arts Center

Effective April 11, 2015, the Herbert Von King Cultural Arts Center will be closed until renovations are complete. Parks will continue to serve the Bed-Stuy community by offering quality activities during the exciting renovations to the Center. As part of this preserved programming, there will be a host of recreational activities on weekdays after school in April and May, weekends in May and June, and weekdays in July and August. The programs will range from fitness classes and arts, to bike riding and games for all ages.

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