Dr. Green Playground
The Daily Plant : Tuesday, February 24, 2009
African-American Namesake Parks (Part I)
Just as there are many influential African-Americans who have shaped the landscape of our culture, there are many Parks properties that have been named for a fraction of these important Americans. The list below is a sampling of namesake parks from a special Black History Month feature currently highlighted on the Parks Department website’s homepage. Be sure to scour your park for historical signs and discover great citizens of all nationalities and creeds who have been honored.
Charlton Garden in Morrisania honors the heroism of Korean War hero Sergeant Cornelius H. Charlton who was awarded a Purple Heart and the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions in battle. When his platoon commander was seriously wounded during an assault, Charlton assumed command of the platoon, rallied the men, and re–launched the attack. Although his platoon suffered heavy casualties, he launched a second and third attack until the enemy position was completely destroyed.
Charlton received both awards while the American military was still partially segregated. In 1951 he was buried in Bryant Memorial Cemetery near Pocahontas, Virginia. He was later moved to the American Legion Cemetery in Buckley, West Virginia in 1989. In 2008, with the help of Bronx elected officials and community members, Charlton was re-interred to his rightful place in Arlington National Cemetery.
Martin Luther King Triangle
Mott Haven is an appropriate place for a memorial to Dr. King. Before the Civil War (1861–1864), the area was the site of two stations on the Underground Railroad — the villa of Charles Van Doren, which stood at East 145th Street and Third Avenue, and the Mott Haven Dutch Reformed Church, which still stands on East 146th Street. This triangle, bounded by Austin Place and East 149th Streets was named to honor Dr. King after his assassination in 1968.
In Brownsville, Green Playground honors New York City's first African–American Chancellor of the Board of Education, Dr. Richard E. Green. Dr. Green received his appointment from Mayor Edward Koch in March, 1988. His term was cut short when he died of a severe asthma attack in May, 1989.
As Chancellor, Dr. Green cited four main objectives: creating a legislative package to fund new schools, reforming the election process for school board members, giving teachers more say in decision–making processes, and making schools safer and more effective. Dr. Green adamantly believed that children should be "the center" of American culture.
Hattie Carthan Garden
Hattie Carthan (1900–1984) was a Bedford-Stuyvesant resident who always had an interest in trees. When she noticed conditions in her neighborhood beginning to deteriorate, Mrs. Carthan began replanting trees there, and in the process, helped found the Bedford–Stuyvesant Neighborhood Tree Corps and the Green Guerillas. Carthan also led the charge to preserve a particular Southern magnolia tree (Magnolia grandiflora) that became a symbol of the neighborhood. The tree, rare in the northeast, was brought on a ship from North Carolina in 1885. Carthan not only succeeded in having a wall built to protect this tree but also spearheaded the successful attempt to designate it an official city landmark in 1970. It is one of only two trees to be designated as such (and after the 1998 death of the Weeping beech in Queens, the only tree still standing).
Jackie Robinson Park
Baseball great Jackie Robinson (1919–1972) is honored not only by the Jackie Robinson Parkway, which connects Brooklyn and Queens but also by two city parks–one in Brooklyn and another in Manhattan. In Brooklyn, Jackie Robinson Park is located on Reid Avenue between Chauncey and Marion streets; the park was named for Robinson in 1981.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.”
(427 – 347 B.C.)