c. Obed Obwoge

Prospect Park Alliance Unveils ReImagine Lefferts Interpretive Plan

June 11, 2024

Prospect Park Alliance has partnered with Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA), designers of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture amongst many others globally, to create a new interpretive plan for the Lefferts Historic House museum that shifts the museum’s focus to explore the lives, resistance and resilience of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rests upon, and the Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family.

“As the Alliance’s first Black leader, I am honored to be ushering in this new interpretive plan and a new era of recognition and celebration of the stories and histories that have been ignored for centuries. Through this plan we seek to make the museum a place for healing and a forum for thoughtful dialogue and learning for our community,” said Morgan Monaco, Prospect Park Alliance President

“All of us at RAA are committed to creating public spaces that foster understanding and empathy. The Reimagine Lefferts initiative offers a unique chance to prioritize meaningful dialogue and reflection on essential but also evolving histories, in a set of special spaces designed to bring the city together in recognition of their significance,” said Nick Appelbaum, Ralph Appelbaum Associates President

In 2021, the Alliance launched the ReImagine Lefferts Initiative through a Humanities in Place grant from the Mellon Foundation. Through this initiative, the Alliance and RAA have developed an interpretive plan that will guide the Alliance in creating future exhibits and programming. The goal is to foster a safe and accessible space for engaging audiences with our collective past, as well as contemporary issues affecting descendant communities today. The plan is an ongoing and evolving roadmap for the museum, and was crafted from an intensive, year-long community engagement process that encompassed thousands of hours of conversation, insight, feedback and guidance from descendant communities, culture bearers, scholars, artists, civic leaders and museum professionals.

The descendant guidance we’ve received is essential,” said Dylan Yeats, Prospect Park Alliance ReImagine Lefferts Project Manager. “One of the most important things we learned throughout the process is the importance of ongoing partnerships with individuals and organizations already stewarding this living history, and it really is the brilliance, creativity and vision of our community partners that make this initiative a success.”

The interpretive plan is centered on a series of outdoor exhibits that engage park visitors. Upon entrance to the grounds, there will be large-scale panels curated by representatives from nations across the Lenape diaspora and a Dikenga Cosmogram that honors the ancient  wisdom Africans brought with them to the Americas. The plan also features public art, healing gardens, a Freedom-Seeker wall, and spaces for live events and programs that do not shy away from the history of dispossession and enslavement, but  emphasize and celebrate the inspirational resilience of descendant communities today and the ways their cultures endure. As a first step in the new interpretation, the Alliance has launched its first artist-in-residence, Adama Delphine Fawundu’s Ancestral Whispers.

Elements of the interpretive plan will be developed over the next year, and the Alliance’s work to solicit guidance from descendant communities to inform the future of the Lefferts Historic House will continue through events and other engagements. 

View the plan and learn more about Prospect Park Alliance’s ReImagine Lefferts Initiative. 

c. Obed Obwoge

Elevating Black Queer Ancestors: An Inside Look

June 7, 2024

Celebrate Pride with Prospect Park Alliance at the Lefferts Historic House on Thursday, June 13, for Elevating Black Queer Ancestors: a meaningful history-packed evening presented through the Alliance’s ReImagine Lefferts initiative. The event will be hosted by Lefferts Historic House ​​Public Programs Manager Riah Kinsey, who brings a colorful background and interest in Black queer history. Learn more about Riah’s work to delve into the histories of Black queer ancestors and get a sneak peak at the stories that will be shared at the event. 

RSVP for Elevating Black Queer Ancestors.

Riah Kinsey pictured outside of Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park

Riah Kinsey pictured outside of Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park c. Obed Obwoge

Riah started their journey into the history field through a passion for recovering the stories of marginalized people. While issues of race, gender and sexuality always formed the core of their scholarship, it was not until he began to consider their own identity that the focus of their work truly began to shift to center on Black queer lives.

Their interest in Black queer history was sparked in their university studies of historical archaeology. When tasked with searching through documents in preparation for an upcoming excavation, Kinsey encountered a will that forbade the sale or hire of an enslaved woman by her enslaver’s widow, which ensured her freedom upon the widow’s death.

“I realized that if there are historical documents that speak to the intimate lives and experiences of even the most marginalized inhabitants of the property we were excavating, then there could be documents that do the same for my own ancestors. And if there is this kind of documentation for my biological ancestors, then what about my spiritual ancestors: the Black, queer people who came before me?” Kinsey recalls.

“I quickly found that there is a necessity to think outside the box, both about where to look for information and about how to interpret findings. This need for creativity isn’t due to a comparative lack of information, or even a lack of quality information, but because the current frameworks for research and analysis were never designed to tell our stories.”

This desire to think creatively when tracing Black people’s lives through history, even when there are dead-ends in records, is exactly what interested Kinsey in the Alliance’s ReImagine Lefferts initiative, which seeks to explore the lives, resistance and resilience of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands Prospect Park and Lefferts House rests upon, and the Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family. Kinsey is excited about instilling in others the range of careers, knowledge and meaning-making that are possible in the field of history, especially through events like Elevating Black Queer Ancestors

In preparation, Kinsey has pulled from a variety of uncommon archives in tracing key figures to highlight and honor. This includes Mary Jones, a Black, trans sex worker and pickpocket in antebellum New York. Mary is one of the first recorded gender non-conforming or transgender persons in America. Her life can be pieced together through newspapers, court records and contemporary tabloid literature, which documents countless arrests and incarcerations, many of which were a direct result of her refusal to present as a man. In one famous police interview, Mary was asked “How do you identify? Why do you dress like this? What is your background?” Kinsey explains that her answer was something along the lines of “I always dress like this amongst people of my own color,” which speaks to the experience of queer people of color finding community with each other at that time.

Pictured above is a source from Kinsey’s research on Mary. “The Man-Monster, Peter Sewally, alias Mary Jones &c&c. Sentenced 18th June 1836 to 5 years imprisonment at hard labor at Sing Sing for Grand Larceny. Published by H.R. Robinson.” Image courtesy The Smithsonian Institute. Despite its salacious title, the lithograph portrays Jones as an elegant Black woman.

“The Man-Monster, Peter Sewally, alias Mary Jones &c&c. Sentenced 18th June 1836 to 5 years imprisonment at hard labor at Sing Sing for Grand Larceny. Published by H.R. Robinson.” Image courtesy The Smithsonian Institute. Despite its salacious title, the lithograph portrays Jones as an elegant Black woman.

Many believe that Mary’s life story ends with her infamous 1836 incarceration for pickpocketing. Kinsey however dug deeper to find she was arrested an additional 12 times, and often imprisoned further following these arrests. While extremely tragic for Mary, each arrest created some form of documentation that helps to fill in the gaps of her extraordinary life. 

These findings led Kinsey to ask the question, “Can we use the same methods of research as we did with Mary Jones to learn more about other queer Black people?” Utilizing free-to-use digital archives such as Internet Archive, HathiTrust, and Fulton History, Kinsey used their research experience with Jones to search keywords like effeminate, masculine, dressed in womens clothes, or masquerading as a man, and was amazed at how much there was to find. Through Elevating Queer Ancestors, he hopes to show that there is much, often buried, information to be sifted through to find the beginning threads of many Black queer ancestors’ stories in New York and throughout the world. 

“Whether it’s talking about Mary Jones or uplifting the untold stories of the indigenous Lenape people or the Africans enslaved here in Flatbush, all of the work within the ReImagine Lefferts initiative points back to the question of which stories have been historically neglected and why, and how can we tell them now?” shares Kinsey. “While the work done through the initiative uncovers the names of people enslaved by the Lefferts family, the fact of the matter is that the records were always there, they just needed someone to look for them and interpret them appropriately. The same is true of the as-yet-unknown Black queer residents of early New York.”

Kinsey and the team at ReImagine Lefferts understand that many make the detrimental assumption that records on the histories of Black life and especially Black queer life do not exist. “This is just blatantly untrue. Though many historical archives have been designed to hide or silence a person’s or a group of people’s existence, there are always ways to look deeper and to expand and contextualize stories–which is exactly what the ReImagine Lefferts Initiative aims to do,” reflects Kinsey.

“The dire importance of championing research and building access to marginalized histories is incredibly clear, especially now. When people can see themselves in history, especially young people, that can help expand their hopes and dreams of what is possible in the world,” explained Kinsey, on their goals to develop regular programming on genealogy and historical research. 

It is important to reflect on how far New York and our society have come in striving to secure equality, but also how marginalized people have always worked within our own communities to uplift and support each other, regardless of the oppressive forces at play. “Initiatives like ReImagine Lefferts do just this and more, encouraging us towards a better future for everyone – Black, trans and queer people included.”

RSVP for Elevating Black Queer Ancestors on Thursday, June 13, and learn more about Prospect Park Alliance’s ReImagine Lefferts Initiative.

The Public Theater in Prospect Park

Join Prospect Park Alliance and The Public Theater for a Musical Adaptation of Mobile Unit’s The Comedy of Errors in English and Spanish on June 27, 28 and 29! Plus, on June 29, enjoy music, food trucks and lawn games followed by a free outdoor screening of a live recording of The Public’s Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing once the sun starts to set.

The Public Theater: The Comedy of Errors
June 27 + 28, 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Prospect Park Peninsula, Free, RSVP


Join Prospect Park Alliance and The Public Theater for The Mobile Unit’s Bilingual Musical Adaptation of The Comedy of Errors in English and Spanish! The Comedy of Errors adaptation embraces contemporary music styles from Latin America in a tale of separation and reunion. Featuring live actor-musicians, this modern musical adaptation brings a vibrant energy to an age-old tale of two sets of twins separated by stormy seas as they overcome a baffling case of mistaken identity—and the mayhem and hilarious confusion that follows.

Concebida por la directora Rebecca Martínez y el compositor Julián Mesri, la adaptación de LA COMEDIA DE LOS ERRORES (THE COMEDY OF ERRORS) adopta estilos musicales contemporáneos de Latinoamérica en una historia de separación y reencuentro. Con actores y músicos en vivo, esta adaptación musical moderna aporta una energía vibrante a una historia antigua de dos pares de gemelos separados por mares tormentosos mientras superan un desconcertante caso de identidad equivocada, y el caos y la hilarante confusión que eso conlleva.

The Public Theater: The Comedy of Errors + Much Ado About Nothing Movie Screening
June 29, 5:30 – 7:00 pm The Comedy of Errors Performance
June 29, Approximately 8:30 – 10:45 pm Movie Screening: Much Ado About Nothing
Prospect Park Peninsula, Free, RSVP


Join Prospect Park Alliance and The Public Theater for The Mobile Unit’s Bilingual Musical Adaptation of The Comedy of Errors in English and Spanish at 4:30 pm and enjoy contemporary music styles from Latin America in a tale of separation and reunion. Plus, enjoy music, food trucks and lawn games followed by a free outdoor screening of a live recording of The Public’s Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing once the sun starts to set.

Lefferts Kicks Off 2024 Season

May 15, 2024

Starting June 1, Prospect Park Alliance kicks off a full season of family-friendly programming at Lefferts Historic House museum, with the debut of its first Artist in Residence Adama Delphine Fawundu’s large-scale, site-specific installation, Ancestral Whispers, funded through a grant from the Mellon Foundation, and a Pinkster celebration with Chief Baba Neil Clarke, the Pinkster Players and more. 

“Art can be such a powerful tool for social justice, and for a dialogue about legacy, agency and creativity. When we have art in public spaces, we create meaningful opportunities for people to reflect on the beauty of the artwork in fellowship with other park users and with nature,” says Prospect Park Alliance President, Morgan Monaco. “Prospect Park Alliance welcomes the entire community to join us for the debut of our first Artist in Residence and the second season of our ReImagine Lefferts initiative, which has shifted our interpretation to tell these stories of resistance and resilience. It is my hope that visitors will see a version of themselves represented in this museum and feel seen, honored and welcome. The season is an especially significant one as we share Ancestral Whispers with our community, which celebrates the heroism of Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family, and leverages the power of art to heal deep-seated wounds from our nation’s past.”

Learn more about the full season, and RSVP for our opening events: prospectpark.org/lefferts.

Operated by the Alliance in partnership with the Historic House Trust, the museum is open from June 1 through December 1, 2024, and provides free, family-friendly cultural programming for Brooklynites of all ages with hands-on experiences, live performances and other engaging activities that explore the lives, resistance and resilience of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rests upon, and Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family. 

Adama Delphine Fawundu Ancestral Whispers
The Alliance’s first ever Artist in Residence is lifelong Brooklynite Adama Delphine Fawundu. Fawundu is a photographer and visual artist whose  work centers around themes of indigenization and ancestral memory, which has earned her a 2024 Guggenheim Fellowship. “When the Alliance reached out it was so special because we were both on a specific trajectory. My whole existence is based in this neighborhood. The smell of the grass when it rains in the park means so much to me…I have such a history here. It felt very much like a 360 degree event to connect with the ReImagine team here in Prospect Park,” reflects Artist in Residence Adama Delphine Fawundu on initial conversations with the Alliance.

For her commission, Fawundu has created a large-scale, site-specific installation inspired by the research the Alliance has conducted into the lives of Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family. To date, the Alliance has identified 25 people enslaved at the house between its 1783 construction and the 1827 abolition of slavery in New York. Fawundu has created 25 fabric banners that transform the house’s Flatbush Avenue facade, honoring the heroism of these Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family. In addition, Fawundu’s 2020 video performance piece, In the Face of History Freedom Cape, which was filmed in part in Prospect Park and Lefferts Historic House, will be on view.

The Alliance will present a special opening event with Fawundu on Sunday, June 9, and a conversation with Fawundu and artist Nona Faustine on Sunday, June 30. Learn more and RSVP: prospectpark.org/ancestral-whispers.

Pinkster Celebration + Season Opening

The Alliance will celebrate the start of the Lefferts season with a special Pinkster celebration on Saturday, June 1, with Chief Baba Neil Clarke, the Pinkster Players and friends, including long-time Lefferts storyteller Tammy Hall. Pinkster was the one holiday a year in the colonial period when Africans enslaved in New York were allowed to gather. Africans took that opportunity to celebrate and transmit their cultures, making Pinkster the oldest African festival in North America. This family-friendly event features music, history, performances, storytelling, demonstrations, games and food related to this historic celebration of Africans in New York. Learn more about Pinkster and RSVP: prospectpark.org/pinkster.

Enjoy the following special programs this June: 

Lefferts Opening Event: Pinkster Celebration
Saturday, June 1, 1–5 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free, RSVP: prospectpark.org/pinkster 
Prospect Park Alliance celebrates the 2024 season opening of our historic house museum with a celebration of Pinkster, a historic festival of African culture in New York, with Chief Baba Neil Clarke, the Pinkster Players and friends, including long-time Lefferts storyteller Tammy Hall. This family-friendly event features music, history, performances, storytelling, demonstrations, games and food. Plus, the celebration continues with a Pinkster Celebration from 12-5 pm on Sunday June 2 at Weeksville Heritage Center! Free shuttle buses between the two museums from 12:30-5:30 pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

Exhibit Opening: Adama Delphine Fawundu, Ancestral Whispers
Sunday, June 9, 2–5 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free, RSVP: prospectpark.org/ancestral-whispers
Welcome Prospect Park Alliance’s first ever ReImagine Lefferts Artist in Residence, Adama Delphine Fawundu, at the official launch of her installation Ancestral Whispers. Enjoy a spiritually rich sonic offering, featuring Fawundu accompanied by her son and musician Che Buford, whose work explores the creation of new narratives while engaging with memory and place. Fawundu will conduct gallery talks of her works on display, explain her creative process and share details about some of the concepts and imagery in her art. Plus, DJ Spinna will also be performing as part of this opening celebration.

Elevating Black Queer Ancestors
Thursday, June 13, 6:30–7:30 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free: prospectpark.org/lefferts 
Join Prospect Park Alliance Public Programs Manager Riah Kinsey on the porch of Lefferts Historic House for an evening tribute elevating Black Queer Ancestors. Bring a picnic and listen to excerpts of historic records documenting 300 years of Black Queer life in New York and beyond.

Father’s Day Celebration and Discussion
Saturday, June 15, 12–3 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free, Registration Encouraged: prospectpark.org/lefferts 
Join Assembly Member Brian Cunningham for a fun-filled Father’s Day celebration and BBQ at Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park!

*77* District 40 at Lefferts Historic House
Monday, June 17, 7–8 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free: prospectpark.org/lefferts 
Join Prospect Park Alliance and *77* District 40 for an evening of community and culture building. The event will feature seven seven-minute presentations and/or performances celebrating diverse cultures. 

Uhuru Season: 17 Days of Freedom
Daily, Wednesday, June 19–Friday, July 5
Lefferts Historic House, Free: prospectpark.org/lefferts 
Visit the toll booth outside Lefferts Historic House to view a series of posters created by local artist Grey Jones. This site-specific exhibition commemorates the historical tradition of celebrating Juneteenth, the last day that Americans were freed from enslavement, and July 5, the day that many Black Americans historically celebrated American Independence as a sociopolitical protest to the continued enslavement of people prior to emancipation.

The Legacy of the Chicaba a.k.a. Moko Jumbie!
Sunday, June 23, 2–5 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free, RSVP: prospectpark.org/caribbean
Join Prospect Park Alliance, JouvayFest Collective, BUSH WO/MAN Conversations Project and 2J & Friends for The Legacy of the Chicaba a.k.a. Moko Jumbie! Traditional Character’s workshop at Lefferts Historic House. Learn the significance of these legendary African masquerade characters and how they have circulated through the diaspora across the Caribbean and other Carnival cultures around the world.

DJ on the Porch: Lefferts Libations, Homage of Music and History 
Saturday, June 29, 2–7 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free: prospectpark.org/lefferts 
Join Prospect Park Alliance and Juwandi House Riddems for a family-friendly afternoon of house rhythms in the yard of Lefferts Historic House.

Conversations on the Porch: Adama Delphine Fawundu, Nona Faustine + Niama Safia Sandy
Sunday, June 30, 2–3:30
Lefferts Historic House, Free, RSVP: prospectpark.org/lefferts
Join Prospect Park Alliance for a conversation between Lefferts Artist in Residence Adama Delphine Fawundu and artist Nona Faustine, whose work is currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum, moderated by cultural anthropologist, curator, producer and organizer, Niama Safia Sandy. Both Fawundu and Faustine use photography to engage with the legacies of enslavement and resilience in Brooklyn, and have produced work featuring Lefferts Historic House.

DJ on the Porch: Beats, Rhythm & Lyrics
Sunday, July 14, 2–9 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free: prospectpark.org/lefferts 
Join Prospect Park Alliance, DJ Vic Black of the Gangstarr Foundation and founder of Beats Rhythm & Lyrics for a day of great music and community in the yard of Lefferts Historic House.

*77* at Lefferts Historic House
Wednesday, July 17, 7–8 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free: prospectpark.org/lefferts 
Join Prospect Park Alliance and *77* District 40 for an evening of community and culture. The event will feature seven seven-minute presentations and/or performances beginning at 7 pm in the yard at Lefferts Historic House.

NYC Poetry Family Reunion
Saturday, July 20, 3–9 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free: prospectpark.org/lefferts 
Join Prospect Park Alliance, Empress Poetry & Essence Lamonde for performances and an open mic at the Lefferts Historic House. This event will bring together griots, poets and wordsmiths from across the diaspora to honor important members of the poetry community in NYC. We will also honor fallen community members with a legendary tribute.

DJ on the Porch: Songs of Resistance and Joy! 
Sunday, July 28, 2–5 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free: prospectpark.org/lefferts 
Join Prospect Park Alliance and Shawne’ Lee for a musical tribute to the courage of her mother, Mama Joy Chatel, the activist and preservationist who saved 227 Abolitionist Place in downtown Brooklyn from destruction. Enjoy music on the Lefferts Historic House porch and hear Sister Shawne’ spin the songs that gave Chatel strength, happiness, peace of mind and soulful comfort.

Community Health Awareness and Family Reunion Day of Fun
August 18, 10:30 am–8 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free: prospectpark.org/lefferts
Join Prospect Park Alliance, James Frasier, DJ T-Groove, Mehala Isadora Miller Foundation, the Bonello Foundation and more for a Community Health Awareness event and Family Reunion Day of Fun at Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park. Enjoy free refreshments, activities, and school-supplies giveaways for children, fitness and nutrition workshops, and health screenings provided by One Brooklyn Health, Aetna, and more. 

*77* at Lefferts Historic House
Tuesday, August 27, 7–8pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free: prospectpark.org/lefferts 
Join Prospect Park Alliance and *77* District 40 for an evening of community and culture building. The event will feature seven seven-minute presentations and/or performances beginning at 7 pm in the yard at Lefferts Historic House.

About Adama Delphine Fawundu

Adama Delphine Fawundu is a photographer and visual artist of Mende, Krim, Bamileke and Bubi descent. Her distinct visual language centered around themes of indigenization, and ancestral memory, enriches and expands the visual art canon. Fawundu co-published the critically acclaimed book MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora. She is an Assistant Professor of Visual Art at Columbia University. Learn more at delphinefawundu.com.

About ReImagine Lefferts

ReImagine Lefferts is Prospect Park Alliance’s initiative to re-envision the mission and programming of the Lefferts Historic House museum, an 18th-century Flatbush farmhouse and New York City landmark, to focus its interpretation and programming on exploring the lives, resistance and resilience of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rests upon, and the Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family. The Alliance seeks to engage the public in thoughtful dialogue about the legacy of enslavement and the exploitation of marginalized communities in Brooklyn and beyond. Learn more at prospectpark.org/lefferts.

About Prospect Park Alliance

Prospect Park Alliance is the non-profit organization that sustains, restores and advances Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s Backyard, in partnership with the City of New York. The Alliance provides critical staff and resources that keep the Park green and vibrant for the diverse communities that call Brooklyn home. Learn more at prospectpark.org. 

About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at mellon.org.

ReImagine Lefferts is funded through a Humanities in Place grant from the Mellon Foundation.

Mellon Foundation Logo

Movie Nights in Prospect Park Return for 2024

May 14, 2024

Spend your summer nights in Prospect Park with Paramount+ Movie Nights in Brooklyn, the free, outdoor movie series presented by Paramount+, Brooklyn Magazine, and BSE Global in partnership with Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso and Prospect Park Alliance.

“It’s not summer in Brooklyn without movies in the park,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “Outdoor movie nights in Brooklyn are a beloved tradition that only gets better each year. I’m especially thrilled that 2024 is bringing free movies all the way to Coney Island Beach. A major thank you to Brooklyn Magazine, Paramount+, and BSE Global, as well as Prospect Park Alliance, Fort Greene Park Conservancy, McCarren Park, and Alliance for Coney Island for ensuring this summer staple only gets sweeter with time.”Paramount+ Movie Nights in Brooklyn will kick off on June 7 in McCarren Park and continue with weekly free film screenings across the four locations throughout the summer.

“We are thankful to Borough President Reynoso for continuing this long-cherished tradition of bringing our community together for free movie nights under the stars in Brooklyn’s backyard, and to Paramount+ and Brooklyn Magazine for their support of this beloved series,” said Morgan Monaco, President of Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit organization that sustains, restores and advances Prospect Park.

Prospect Park Movie Lineup:

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Wednesday, June 26
In 1936, archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis can obtain its awesome powers.
RSVP

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Wednesday, July 3
Video game adventurer Lara Croft comes to life in a movie where she races against time and villains to recover powerful ancient artifacts.
RSVP

School of Rock
Wednesday, July 10
After being kicked out of his rock band, Dewey Finn becomes a substitute teacher of an uptight elementary private school, only to try and turn his class into a rock band.
RSVP

Clueless
Wednesday, July 17
Shallow, rich and socially successful Cher is at the top of her Beverly Hills high school’s pecking scale. Seeing herself as a matchmaker, Cher first coaxes two teachers into dating each other.
RSVP

This event series is free and open to the public, and RSVPs are not required for entry.

The films will begin shortly after sundown at the north end of the Prospect Park Long Meadow, located nearest to the Grand Army Plaza entrance and Third Street  Entrance.

Please enter the park at the Third Street or Grand Army Plaza Entrance and note that a portion of the Garfield pathway and the Meadowport pathway between the Park Drive and Long Meadow are closed for path restoration. Please note that the movie may be cancelled in the case of inclement weather.

Caribpolitan, Andrea Pippins for I AM CARIBBEING

Celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month in Prospect Park

May 13, 2024

This June, Celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage Month in Prospect Park! Join Prospect Park Alliance with I AM caribBEING, JOUVAYFEST COLLECTIVE, BUSH WO/MAN Conversations Project, Braata Productions, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzales and more to kick off a month of celebration in Brooklyn’s Backyard. Enjoy Caribbean music, dance, cuisine and much more during this cultural celebration for Brooklynites of all ages.

Caribbean American Heritage Month Celebration
Wednesday, June 5, 6 pm–9 pm
Prospect Park Boathouse, Free, RSVP Today!
Join Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzales and Prospect Park Alliance for a Caribbean American Heritage Month celebration! Enjoy music, food and community at this celebration.

One Love Little Caribbean Day
Sunday, June 23, 11 am–7 pm
Prospect Park Boathouse, Free, RSVP Today!
Spread Love, the Brooklyn Way with I AM CARIBBEING and Prospect Park Alliance. Pull up with your friends, family and neighbors for a day filled with Caribbean Culture + Community + Commerce. From a Carnival workshop led by Fiona Compton of Know Your Caribbean, to a dance class by Soca & Sweat to authentic Caribbean cuisine, music and more, One Love Fest is a unique way to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Little Caribbean NYC.

Arrive early to shop at I AM CARIBBEING’s curated marketplace presented in partnership with Black Wall Street. Explore unique crafts + goods from artisan vendors while vibing to DJ sets & delicious West Indian cuisine.  

The Legacy of the Chicaba a.k.a. Moko Jumbie!
Sunday, June 23, 2–5 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free, RSVP Today!
Join Prospect Park Alliance, JouvayFest Collective, BUSH WO/MAN Conversations Project and 2J & Friends for The Legacy of the Chicaba a.k.a. Moko Jumbie! Traditional Character’s workshop at Lefferts Historic House. Learn about the significance of these legendary African masquerade characters and how they have circulated through the diaspora across the Caribbean and other Carnival cultures around the world.

Caribites
Sunday, June 30, 1:30–4:30
Boathouse, Free, RSVP Today!
Join Prospect Park Alliance and Braata Productions for Caribites — a Caribbean culinary paradise! Enjoy a flavorful journey of food, music, and summer bliss. Close your eyes and transport yourself to the idyllic shores of your favorite Caribbean island. Can you smell it? Can you taste it? Immerse yourself in Caribbean culinary delights and entertainment that will make this summer truly unforgettable with the finest selection of Caribbean eats from Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Haiti & Dominican Republic and exciting activities for kids. Plus, dance to the pulsating beats spun by talented DJs from those very islands, and be captivated by live performances that showcase the richness of Caribbean culture. Join us reveling in a day filled with joy, laughter and delicious food.

 

c. Shaun Walsh

Interfaith Celebration

April 3, 2024

On March 28, Prospect Park Alliance joined the 67th Precinct Clergy Council, Council of People’s Organization (COPO), the Jewish Community Relations Council, P.A.T.H. Forward, the Mayor’s Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, the Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships for a night of interfaith celebration. The evening was a celebration of community fellowship and discussion in observance of the traditions of Ramadan, Easter, and Passover. 

“Celebrations like this are essential for bringing our communities together to appreciate the richness and diversity of our religious faiths, beliefs, customs and cuisines while enjoying each other’s company. Breaking bread together fosters unity and understanding, allowing us to share our cultures and care for one another. Despite our differences, we all call New York City home, and events like this demonstrate the strength of our unity.” shared Prospect Park Alliance President, Morgan Monaco. Attendees explored the diversity of religious faiths through visual displays and an array of cuisines. Below, civic leaders share how these holiday traditions are observed in Brooklyn and beyond.

Community members enjoying the Interfaith Celebration in March at the Prospect Park Boathouse. c. Shaun Walsh

Eid Al-Fitr, or Eid ul-Fitr (Eid), celebrated this year on Wednesday, April 10, marks the end of the holy fasting period of Ramadan. Eid is celebrated in the Islamic faith with community events and traditions of togetherness throughout the world. Mohammad Razvi, Chief Executive Officer of COPO, shares that “Eid-ul-Fitr is one of the most significant Islamic festivals celebrated by Muslims worldwide. We regard the month of Ramadan as a time of communion, with Eid as a celebration for everyone! Islamic culture is so diverse, and traditions on Eid come from all over the world, making the day even more festive.” 

“The morning of Eid always starts with prayers, after which we turn towards each other and greet our brother/sister by saying Eid Mubarak,” says Razvi. “There is so much in our cultures that encourage community bonding, and Ramadan and Eid always remind us of this.” For those looking to get involved in the celebration, the annual Chaand Raat event is one of the biggest community events in Brooklyn, featuring a variety of stalls with bangles, henna, desi clothing, jewelry, and culturally specific items. For those looking to try Eid feast staples, Razvi shares, “COPO is in the heart of Kensington’s Little Pakistan visit Gourmet Sweets and Restaurant, which serves a variety of dishes tandoori specialties, kebabs and traditional curries, and Pakeeza, which offers a diverse menu of biryanis, kebabs, curries and traditional desserts.

Passover, or Pesach, is an eight day Jewish holiday, which begins on Monday, April 22, and commemorates the exodus of Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. “We read in the Torah about the bitterness of the people’s life as slaves, and the miracles with which God liberated them, including the ten plagues and the splitting of the sea,” shares Daniela Kogan, Program Associate, Center for Shared Society at the Jewish Council for Community Relations. The central Passover ritual is the seder, a meal that tells the history of the holiday through symbols, actions and songs.“The most famous of these steps involves eating matzah, unleavened bread that reminds us of how we left Egypt so quickly that we didn’t even have time for the dough to rise. Traditionally, Jews do not eat and get rid of all their chametz, which is any food that even potentially contains leavened wheat, rye, barley, oats, or spelt during the holiday.” Jewish custom on Passover is to drink four cups of wine throughout the course of the seder, symbolizing various facets of redemption from Egypt, and to leave an additional cup out for the prophet Elijah who will arrive to announce the coming of the messiah. Passover is also called the holiday of spring and, while it follows the lunar calendar, steps are taken to make sure that it will always fall within the season. 

“One of the beautiful parts of living in New York City is the diversity of the Jewish community,” shares Kogan. “Even though the food we eat and the songs we perform may vary, hundreds of thousands of Jews within Brooklyn will be taking time to be grateful for our freedom. While the celebration can take on different forms, the central text of Passover, the haggadah, has been used for centuries, and it provides a strong tie to Jewish ancestors.” 

Easter, which was celebrated on Sunday, March 31, is considered “the most important, solemn and victorious celebration for many in the Christian church,” shares Pastor Everette B. Samuel, Clergy Engagement Director of the 67th Precinct Clergy Council. “The belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a symbol of hope and salvation. For the church, it gives another opportunity to proselytize and serve the community with love and compassion. These sentiments spill over into the entire community. There are secular traditions having to do with bunnies, eggs and the spring season. However, the spiritual implications for this season are beyond the frivolities of tradition. This celebration is the very foundation of Christianity. It is certainly today’s evidence of our future hope. On Easter’s origins, Samuel shares that like the Jews, Christians celebrated “a sacred feast, at which they distributed a paschal lamb in memory of the holy supper.” 

Learn more about the 67th Precinct Clergy Council.

Shirley Chisholm c. Pictorial Parade : Getty Images

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Shirley Chisholm

March 1, 2024

March is Women’s History Month!  To celebrate the impact women have had in Prospect Park and in our Brooklyn community, we’re spotlighting the storied legacy of Brooklyn trailblazer Shirley Chisholm. A local hero, Shirley Chisholm is a beacon of perseverance and dedication in Brooklyn and far beyond. In the coming years, two tributes to Chisholm and her legacy are also coming to Brooklyn’s Backyard. The Shirley Chisholm monument, commissioned through the She Built NYC Initiative through funding from the NYC Mayor’s office, will pay homage to Chisholm and the Shirley Chisholm Welcome Center, made possible through funding from NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and the Brooklyn Delegation, led by Council Members Crystal Hudson, Rita Joseph, Shahana Hanif and former Council Majority Leader, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo, will transform a former maintenance building into a space that honors Chisholm’s impact and complements the new monument.

Chisholm was born 1924 in Brooklyn to Barbadian parents. She spent her childhood in Barbados but returned to Brooklyn at age ten and lived much of her life in Crown Heights, to the northeast of Prospect Park and blocks away from historic Weeksville. Chisholm graduated from Brooklyn Girls’ High and from Brooklyn College. She initially worked as a nursery school teacher in Brooklyn and earned a master’s degree in early childhood education. By 1960, she was a consultant to the New York City Division of Daycare. Shirley fought for racial and gender equality even before her time in congress and joined local chapters of the League of Women Voters, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Urban League, and the Democratic Party Club in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Chisholm was a leader and an advocate for residents of Brooklyn and the country at large.

In 1968, Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Her notable achievements in Congress included working to expand access to food stamps, extending minimum wage requirements to domestic workers, and helping to pass Title IX, the landmark federal civil rights law that prohibits any sex-based discrimination in any government-funded school or education program. Chisholm introduced more than 50 pieces of legislation and championed racial and gender equality throughout her time in congress. She was one of the founding members of the Black Caucus in 1971 and that same year was one of the founding members of the National Women’s Political Caucus, and in 1977 became the first Black woman and second woman ever to serve on the powerful House Rules Committee. 

By 1972, Shirley Chisolm was one of the most visible and powerful members of Congress. That same year, Representative Chisholm became the first Black major-party candidate to run for President of the United States. True to her famous slogan, “unbought and unbossed,” Chisholm refused to abandon the interests of her constituents, no matter what establishment politicians did to intimidate her or mitigate her efforts. As Chisholm once said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair.” 

During Chisholm’s quest for the 1972 Democratic Party presidential nomination, she was blocked from participating in televised primary debates, and after taking legal action, was permitted to make just one speech. Her resilience prevailed and Chislhom entered 12 primaries and garnered 152 of the delegates’ votes despite the extensive discrimination she faced, earning her nickname “Fighting Shirley”. Chisholm retired from Congress in 1983. She taught at Mount Holyoke College and co-founded the National Political Congress of Black Women. Chisholm’s legacy lives on in her hometown of Brooklyn and far beyond, as she remains a national symbol of triumph and a true catalyst for change.

Black Cultural Sites in Prospect Park

February 9, 2024

February is Black History Month! Prospect Park Alliance is celebrating this important heritage month by celebrating Black cultural sites in Brooklyn’s Backyard and Black trailblazers in Brooklyn’s history.

The Drummer’s Grove—A Prospect Park Tradition

In the 1960s, an Afro-Caribbean community emerged just east of Prospect Park in the neighborhoods of Flatbush, East Flatbush and Crown Heights, now known as “Little Caribbean.” In 1968, some members of the community began to meet weekly at the southeastern corner of Prospect Park for a drum circle. Calling themselves the Congo Square Drummers, they came together in Prospect Park “to rehearse, and just to play and rejoice,” says Abiodun McCray, one of the group’s founders. Recalling African ancestors who brought their musical traditions to the Caribbean in the 17th century, this was a way for the Congo Square Drummers to celebrate community and remember home in the midst of the African Diaspora.

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, and the area was restored by the Alliance in 2021 as part of its ReNew Prospect Park initiative. Today the beat goes on in Drummer’s Grove, pictured above, 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.

See a video of the Prospect Park Drummer’s Circle in full swing on YouTube, courtesy of Humberto Middleton.

Kids Sitting In Front of Face Structures

Archival image depicting two children sitting by the Bazile sculpted tree surrounded by drums and other Haitian artifacts. c. Prospect Park Alliance Archives

The Sacred History of Gran Bwa

Did you know that Gran Bwa, a sacred Haitian gathering spot, is located next to Prospect Park’s Lake?

As a part of the 20th-century wave of Caribbean immigrants to Brooklyn, many Haitians settled in Little Caribbean, one of whom was Deenps Bazile. In the 1980’s, Bazile was walking through Prospect Park when he felt spirits instructing him to carve a tree trunk next to the Lake. Bazile sculpted a large human head, two small human faces, a lion and a legba (a Haitian Vodou spirit) in the tree stump. This sculpture sparked the use of the area by the Haitian community, and it came to be named after Gran Bwa, the Haitian Vodou spirit associated with trees, plants and herbs. Although the sculpture is no longer in the park, its site continues to be an important gathering spot for the Haitian community.

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.”

See a video of the annual celebration in Prospect Park, courtesy of CityLore on YouTube.

Photo of Shirley Chisolm Monument

Virtual rendering of Shirley Chisholm monument design at Parkside entrance. c. O. Jeyifous + A. Williams

Shirley Chisholm, Brooklyn Trailblazer

A local hero, Shirley Chisholm was born in Brooklyn to Barbadian parents. She spent her childhood in Barbados but returned to Brooklyn at age ten and lived much of her life in Bed Stuy, to the northeast of Prospect Park. Chisholm was the first Black Congresswoman in U.S. history, and both a leader and an advocate for residents of Brooklyn and the country at large. Her notable achievements in Congress included working to expand access to food stamps, helping to pass Title IX and extending minimum wage requirements to domestic workers. In 1972, Representative Chisholm became the first Black major-party candidate to run for President of the United States. True to her famous slogan, “unbought and unbossed,” Chisholm refused to abandon the interests of her constituents, no matter what establishment politicians did to intimidate her or mitigate her efforts.

Two tributes to Chisholm and her legacy are coming to Brooklyn’s Backyard! The design of the Shirley Chisholm monument at the Parkside and Ocean Avenue entrance to Prospect Park will pay homage to Chisholm. Additionally, the Shirley Chisholm Welcome Center, made possible by NYC Council funding, will transform a former maintenance building at the Parkside and Ocean Ave Entrance of the park into a space that complements the new Shirley Chisholm monument at this entrance to the park. Celebrate Shirley Chisholm’s impact this Black History Month and share your feedback on ways the new Welcome Center’s design can honor Chisholm’s legacy. Take Prospect Park Alliance’s online survey to help shape the design of the Welcome Center.

The newly restored Lefferts Historic House. c. Obed Obwoge

Lefferts Historic House

Prospect Park Alliance has launched the ReImagine Lefferts Initiative to re-envision the mission and programming of the Lefferts Historic House museum to focus its interpretation and programming on exploring the lives, resistance and resilience of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rests upon, and the Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family. The re-imagining of the museum has been accompanied by the restoration of the Lefferts Historic House itself, which can be seen in completion in the above image.

The Alliance seeks to engage the public in thoughtful dialogue about the legacy of enslavement and the exploitation of marginalized communities in Brooklyn and beyond. To accomplish this work, the Alliance has been collaborating with descendant and neighboring communities, culture bearers, scholars, artists, civic leaders and museum professionals to create content that will support the museum’s new focus and deepen our relationships with these communities through active conversation and collaboration.

By centering the narratives at the museum on these legacies of dispossession, enslavement and oppression in Brooklyn, while also highlighting stories of resistance, resilience and joy, we seek to create a safe space for engaging with our collective past as well as contemporary issues affecting our community today. Learn more and see upcoming programming at Lefferts Historic House: prospectpark.org/lefferts

Shanna Sabio’s Guide to Flatbush

November 14, 2023

Flatbush, a neighborhood that borders the southeast corner of Prospect Park, is a must-visit destination for delving into Brooklyn history, art, food, fashion and more. Prospect Park Alliance spoke with Flatbush civic leader and born-and-raised Brooklynite, Shanna Sabio, about her work in the neighborhood as well as her take on the must-visit, Black-owned spots throughout Flatbush. Sabio is co-founder of GrowHouse Community Design + Development Group and trustee of the Flatbush African Burial Ground Coalition, a Black-led, multiracial coalition that is working to preserve the Flatbush African Burial Ground and make it an accessible space for the community. Her most recent work, the Sankofa Walking Tour, is an exploration of Black and African history in Brooklyn. In her own words below, Sabio takes us through some of her most beloved spots in Flatbush.

Sabio leading the Sankofa Walking Tour. c. Shanna Sabio

Brooklyn has been an epicenter of global Blackness, with people hailing from almost every Caribbean island, the American South and the African continent. Brooklyn is also an epicenter of gentrification. Amidst the demographic shifts, Black-owned businesses throughout the borough are building a renaissance that needs the support of all New Yorkers to keep Central Brooklyn as a site of important culture, creation and evolution for generations to come. There are a few corridors that feel like the heart of this renaissance in Flatbush.

In researching for my Sankofa Walking Tour at the Flatbush African Burial Ground, I realized that Flatbush has been a melting pot of global Blackness since the mid 1600s when enslaved Africans were brought here to build the infrastructure of what would become Brooklyn. People from the Congo and Angola, Madagascar, Ghana and Nigeria all were brought here, as well as Black people enslaved in the Caribbean. The walk has been evolving as I learn new information and partner with the amazing staff with Prospect Park Alliance’s ReImagine Lefferts Initiative, which is bringing to light the history of enslaved Africans at Lefferts Historic House. As a member of the ReImagine Lefferts Advisory Board, I’m so pleased with the care and thoughtfulness with which they’re engaging our community around this important history—the epitome of allyship in practice.The J’ouvert Genesis Immersive Experience is an example of using a historic space to connect with and highlight contemporary cultural work.

Shanna’s Guide to Flatbush

One favorite spot is Natural Blend juice bar and restaurant. When members of the Flatbush African Burial Ground Coalition get together to clean up the perimeter of the burial ground, we often fuel up at Natural Blend.Their patties are delicious and they have a wide variety of beverages including smoothies and house-made ginger beer and sorrel.The yucca pone there also reminds me of the kind my grandmother made during the holidays.

Natural Blend Vegetarian Cafe and Juice Bar c. Prospect Park Alliance

 

Flatbush Central Market is another key Flatbush destination. The spaces here are gorgeous, especially the Lakay Lounge. The commercial kitchen/tasting room is also really affordable to book and is state-of-the-art. Part of what I love most about Central Brooklyn is the community, and this space has tremendous potential to grow as a hub for Black folks to gather and experiment. Bunnan is also here, and if you love plantain, their sandwich (which uses fried plantains as the bun) is a must-try.

Lakay Lounge in Flatbush Central/Canton Market courtesy of Shanna Sabio and Prospect Park Alliance.

When I need to buy gifts, I always stop by Granru Market. Their t-shirts are really unique and I love their mix of vintage and new clothing. I also love that they’re adding housewares to the selection. A couple of doors down from Granru is Edie Jo’s (one of the partners is Black). It’s a great place to have a working lunch because the staff is so personable and they make you feel welcome and not rushed.

Lips Cafe c. Prospect Park Alliance

From the Burial Ground if you walk to Nostrand Avenue, you can walk pretty much into Bed-Stuy and find places to stop and explore. I’m not vegan, but I crave the food at Aunts et Uncles. Their All Green Everything salad is satisfying and delicious, and I always get their Ginger Cucumber Juice which feels very healing. If I want to imbibe, their cocktails are also expertly crafted and the vibe is always right. Lips Cafe is also a great place to have a working lunch. It feels like family there and I love the connection between this space and Aunts et Uncles across the street. They’re both family-owned, which is a part of our rich legacy as Black folks, and they also share with one another which is how we all grow.

A few blocks across Linden Boulevard is Zanmi. Friday and Saturday nights are a vibe and the food is a new twist on Haitian. The portions are healthy so make sure to save space. Plus, the jerk pork at Jerk Pit is tender, juicy, perfectly spiced, and not to be missed.

In addition to restaurants, cafes and markets, Flatbush is also a hub of fashion.The fact that the legendary Fe Noel has a shop in Little Caribbean is a testament to the work that Shelley Worrell of I AM CARIBBEING has done building this community as a brand. The space is gorgeous and really creates an experience in the shop. I also recently discovered Closet Rich when I was looking for an outfit to wear out. The owner, Star, is a wealth of knowledge about Black women in fashion. I love the fitting room which has pictures of Black women fashion icons. It’s a relatively new business and the prices are so approachable for the kinds of styles she carries.

Learn more about upcoming Sankofa Walking Tours with GrowHouse and check out the above spots to craft your perfect day in Flatbush.

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