Herbert Von King Park

Almira Kennedy Coursey Amphitheatre

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This amphitheatre, located in Herbert Von King Park, is named in honor of Almira Kennedy Coursey (1914-1996) who lived a life of service and devotion to her community.

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. As a young woman, she served briefly as the Assistant Dean of Women at Saint Augustine’s, and soon after, began to teach in Clayton, North Carolina. She was particularly interested in the education and upbringing of women, and started a program for teenage girls that she called the ‘Three Ws Program’. The ‘Three Ws’ signified ‘Fine Womanhood’, ‘Wholesome Recreation’ and ‘Willingness to Serve’. These themes had personal significance for her, and she shared them with others throughout her life.

In the late 1940s, she moved to Bedford Stuyvesant, where she met Henry Ellis Coursey (d. 1968) and raised a family of three children. There she continued to work to improve her community through 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, received numerous awards including one from the Tompkins Park Recreational and Cultural Association, and served on several city-wide committees on poverty and education under Mayors Wagner (act. 1954-1965) and Lindsay (act. 1966-1973).

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.

Almira Kennedy Coursey practiced her beliefs throughout her career, to the benefit of all that were around her. She is remembered here for her commitment to her community.

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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. Track our progress

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