New York City parks in each borough will be renamed to honor Black Americans.
The announcement was made Friday by Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver in honor of Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.
The holiday took on added meaning this year amid ongoing protests calling for racial equality, and in that spirit, Silver said it is time to recognize and correct the inequities laid to bare in the course of creating the city parks system.
To kick off the initiative as well as honor the homegoing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans who have have been killed, the Parks Department announced the creation of Juneteenth Grove at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn.
The agency planted 19 new flowering trees flanking the park’s main entry path on Tillary Street and installed new banners marking the area as Juneenth Grove.
Nineteen benches along the path have been repainted in the red, black and green colors of the globally recognized Pan-African Flag.
“In my six years as commissioner I have been committed to creating safe, inclusive spaces for staff and parkgoers, alike,” Silver said in a statement Friday. “NYC Parks believes Black lives matter — our review of park names and the planting of our Juneteenth Grove is only the beginning of our renewed efforts to address inequities in our system for the city and for our employees. We are doing this, if for no other reason than, our Black lives matter.”
The department will spend the next few months reviewing park names with the goal of renaming several in each borough for Black people with local, national or historical relevance.
The renamings will be announced on Black Solidarity Day, which is annually observed the day before Election Day. This year, it falls on Nov. 2.
Demonstrations against police brutality and treatment of people of color began nearly a month ago following the death of Floyd in Minneapolis.
Floyd, a Black man, died after a White police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest on May 25 for an alleged non-violent crime.
His death, along with several others, reignited demands for justice and change in support of racial equality.