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The African American Experience 

Courtney Callender in the Arsenal


Description:November 1966. Courtesy of New York City Parks Photo Archive, Neg. 32685-2. Courtney Callender (1937-1983) was appointed by Commissioner Thomas Hoving in 1966 to serve as the head of the Park's Department's first office of Community Relations, and…more.

Courtney Callender in the Arsenal

November 1966. Courtesy of New York City Parks Photo Archive, Neg. 32685-2. Courtney Callender (1937-1983) was appointed by Commissioner Thomas Hoving in 1966 to serve as the head of the Park's Department's first office of Community Relations, and was the agency's first high-ranking African American official. The creation of this office marked the City's realization and acknowledgement that it should be more responsive to the public's needs in designing and programming its parks. Callender was a graduate of Stuyvesant High School and Howard University, and assumed this important post at age 29. In 1969 he was promoted by Commissioner August Hecksher to Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, a post he held until 1972 and which he used to establish the Harlem Cultural Festival. Later he served as director of the Studio Museum of Harlem and head of educational programming for WNET television. He died of cancer at age 46, and a playground in Harlem was named for him in 1984.

Location: Central Park, Manhattan

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