NYC Parks Tribute To African American History

Do you know what Jackie Robinson, Marcus Garvey and Booker T. Washington have in common? They are all famous African Americans who have New York City parks named after them. This month, the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation is celebrating Black History Month by paying tribute to these and many other influential African Americans with events across the city. From an exhibit on the work of George Washington Carver at the New York Botanical Garden, to a performance on the history of black dance at the Jackie Robinson Recreation Center, there is a free and fun way for everyone to get involved in this lesson on cultural history.

In addition, the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park is hosting “The African American Experience”, an exhibition of over thirty artworks including photographs, paintings, quilts, and ceramics created by artists, Parks & Recreation employees, retirees, and members of recreation centers and programs throughout the city. The exhibit will remain open through March 5, 2009.

For those who can’t make it out to enjoy the festivities, you can learn more about Parks’ relationship with African American History on the Parks website,

February 1-22: 1:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m.: The Life and Work of George Washington Carver, The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. Explore the fascinating life and accomplishments of this plant scientist extraordinaire in this hands-on program and exhibition.

February 17, 18: 1:00 p.m.: Hooray for Martin Luther King, The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. Celebrate the heart of the inspiring message of peace and brotherhood for all.

February 18, 21: 3:00 p.m.: A Man Named Pearl, The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. Watch a documentary on the inspiring story of self-taught topiary artist Pearl Fryar.

February 19: 6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m.: History of Black Dance, the Jackie Robinson Recreation Center, Manhattan. Enjoy a performance featuring variations of Egyptian, African, and Spanish dances. Audience participation is included. February 21: 1:00 p.m.: Rosa’s Ride, The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. Come watch a musical dramatization of the life of Rosa Parks.

February 22: 1:00 p.m.: Seneca Village, Central Park, Manhattan. Learn about the history of Manhattan’s first known community of African-American property owners and what New York City was like at the time.
February 28: 12:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.: African Lives: From Wyckoff to Weeksville, Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum, Brooklyn. Come enjoy the Colonial Dutch and African celebration of Pentecost with music, food, children’s crafts, and more!

12:00 p.m.: African Drumming, Inwood Hill Park Nature Center, Manhattan. Celebrate vibrant African music and culture for black history month by learning traditional African drum rhythm on the djembe, talking drum and udu.

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