Joseph Rodman Drake Park
NYC Parks Joins Bronx Community To Honor Former Slave Burial Ground And Celebrate "It's My Park Day" At Joseph Rodman Drake ParkFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
NYC Parks Deputy Commissioner for Community Outreach Larry Scott Blackmon and Bronx Parks Commissioner Hector Aponte on Saturday joined Congressman Jose Serrano, New York State Senator Jeffrey Klein, Bright Temple Reverend Dr. Kahli Mootoo, Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo, Community Activist Majora Carter, Community Activist DeShawn Williams, members of Community Board 2, students from P.S. 48, Partnerships for Parks and community volunteers to help spruce up Drake Park in celebration of It's My Park Day and to honor a former slave burial ground.
Last year, as part of a school project, students at P.S. 48 located a former burial ground of African slaves in
Drake Park. This year, as NYC Parks celebrated its volunteers on It's My Park Day, the Hunt's Point
community came together to brighten up their park for Spring and to help NYC Parks unveil a new historic
sign acknowledging the burial ground at the site.
"NYC Parks is honored to be here today alongside the Hunt's Point community and P.S. 48 to pay respect to
a former slave burial ground," said Commissioner Blackmon. "This signage project has been a
great collaboration between New York City, our Bronx elected officials, and the neighborhood and there is no
better day to celebrate our partnership and this park than on It's My Park Day."
"We're glad to see so many members of the neighborhood come out today to celebrate this park and
to honor a sacred site," said Commissioner Aponte. "Many thanks to all the volunteers who rolled up their
sleeves and dug in today to help us brighten up this park for the season and we hope you all will continue to
use and enjoy this park year round."
"It's My Park Day is a great opportunity for New Yorkers to visit their local parks, enjoy the outdoors, take part in volunteer projects and learn more about their surroundings," said Senator Klein. "There is no better place to kick off the It's My Park Day season than at Drake Park in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx. With the recent discovery made by students at P.S. 48 of an African Burial Ground here at Drake Park, I commend NYC Parks Department for working with the community to establish a plaque that will educate local residents and visitors on the history of this park and, by extension, Hunts Point. This plaque is a critical first step in memorializing the men, women and children buried at Drake Park. By working together, we can make sure that Drake Park reflects the community of Hunts Point, past and present."
Majora Carter said, "Boldly acknowledging all of our shared history is the surest way to help overcome longstanding inequality. I applaud NYC Dept of Parks & Recreation for joining our efforts. This new signage may seem like a small move to some, but it is a very important step along America's sacred journey."
"Today's unveiling and renaming of this park would not have been possible without the unrelenting leadership of Senator Jeff Klein. This is indeed a special place where Africans and slaves were laid to eternal rest at a challenging time in our nation's racial history," said Assemblyman Crespo. "It will now be remembered as such. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, We cannot dedicate -- we cannot consecrate -- we cannot hallow -- this ground. The brave men and women, who were buried here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. But today we ensure that this special place will never be forgotten."
It’s My Park Day projects citywide were led by local community groups with support from Partnerships for Parks. Partnerships for Parks supported more than 5,000 volunteers today who planted bulbs, painted fences and celebrated their communities at over 150 sites around the City. Dozens of dedicated community groups donated their time to help beautify neighborhood parks, gardens and playgrounds in all five boroughs, creating greener, safer and more enjoyable public spaces. It’s My Park projects will continue throughout the spring and summer.
Other featured sites citywide that hosted IMPD events included: Kaiser Park, Brooklyn; Marcus Garvey Park,
Manhattan; Cunningham Park, Queens; and Great Kills Park, Staten Island. It's My Park Day was sponsored
by TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank.