Prospect Park Alliance Celebrates Black History Month
February 19, 2020
Happy Black History Month! Prospect Park Alliance is celebrating this important awareness month by making a path through history in Prospect Park.
The Drummer’s Grove—A Prospect Park Tradition
Over the years, the drum circle grew, and in 1997 Prospect Park Alliance added seating to the area and gave it the name of Drummer’s Grove as a part of a renovation of the Parkside and Ocean Avenue Entrance. Today the beat goes on in Drummer’s Grove, and it continues to be a place where anyone can stop by on a Sunday during the warmer months to play, dance, or simply enjoy the music.
Above photo courtesy of Elif Altinbasak. See a video of the Prospect Park Drummer's Circle in full swing on YouTube, courtesy of Humberto Middleton.
The Sacred History of Gran Bwa
The largest celebration at Gran Bwa, called Bwa Kayiman, happens annually in August. At this ceremony, participants memorialize the Haitian revolution—which propelled it to become the first black nation to attain independence from their enslavers—and nourish Haitian Vodou spirits. Says Makini Armand, “Gran Bwa is a place to experience the healing power of nature and community, for us to restore ourselves through experiences that bond us with one another and with the natural community around us… it’s an important part of our cultural background to keep families together, and preserve the Haitian heritage and keep the culture alive.”
Photo via Prospect Park Alliance Archives. See a video of the annual celebration in Prospect Park, courtesy of CityLore on YouTube.
Shirley Chisholm, Brooklyn’s Hometown Hero
In 2018, Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue joined First Lady Chirlane McCray to announce that a monument to Chisholm would grace the park’s Parkside entrance—a location where the Alliance is undertaking a significant restoration as part of the work to improve the park's eastern perimeter. After an open call for submissions and public feedback, artists Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous were selected to design the park's new monument—the first to be commissioned as part of the She Built NYC program, which seeks to expand representation of women in the City’s public art collection. The monument is in the design phase, and an important part of the upcoming restoration of the Parkside and Ocean perimeters.
Photo a still from “Chisholm ‘72” from Realside Productions.
c. Elif Altinbasak