New York City park names will undergo review in the coming months as part of an effort to better reflect the city's mission to end systemic racism and uplift voices of the Black community, the parks department announced on Juneteeth.
NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver says the decision to review park names is one step to address race-related issues in the park system. The department plans to rename parks in every borough after Black Americans with local, national, or historical relevance.
On Friday, the department created Juneteeth Grove in Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza. 19 new trees were added to the existing trees and new banners mark the area.
“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," Silver said in a statement.
Juneteenth marks the day on June 19, 1865, that Union soldiers told enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and they were free. The Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the South in 1863 but it was not enforced in many places until after the end of the Civil War in 1865.
The parks department says it will announce the new park names by November 2, 2020. NYC Parks will temporarily change its official park signs with ones in the colors of the Pan-African flag, the department said, and will be on display through the end of the year.