The first hurdle to co-name a Brooklyn street after one of Haiti’s founding fathers has cleared following a community board meeting last week.
On April 18, Community Board 17, which represents the neighborhoods of East Flatbush, Northeast East Flatbush, Rugby, Farragut/Hyde Park, Remsen Village, Ditmas Village and Erasmus, voted to co-name Rogers Avenue, from Foster Avenue to Clarkson Avenue, with Jean Jacques Dessalines Blvd.
The neighborhoods that comprise Community Board 17 include a significant Haitian population. In 2011, there were about 62,000 Haitians living in Brooklyn, compared to 50,000 Trinidadian and Tobogans, 70,000 Jamaicans, and 42,000 people from Guyana. These figures reflect foreign-born New Yorkers, and doesn’t include the scores of Caribbean Americans, who identify culturally with their parents’ native country.
The proposal, which was initiated last year by Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, ignited controversy in the majority Caribbean district, with some perceiving the designation as “divisive.”
“Community Board 17 was key to making the co-naming of Rogers Avenue to Jean-Jacques Dessalines, which legitimizes little Haiti designation territory. There’s a strong energy of support for the Haitian community which reassured our unification and the need to reclaim our Caribbean community.”
For the next step, the community board typically sends a letter of support to their councilman, in this case Councilman Jumaane D. Williams, for him to present on their behalf to the City Council Speaker’s Office.
“Jean Jacques Dessalines often unsung will be remembered as the liberator of Haiti and the strength to the United States,” Bichotte said.