CROWN HEIGHTS — One of Brooklyn’s most revered leaders is now memorialized permanently in a public park in her old neighborhood.
Shirley Chisholm Circle, named for the pioneering congresswoman from Crown Heights, came into being in Brower Park on Wednesday with a tree-planting, performances by students from P.S. 289, a plaque unveiling and much praise for the “unbought and unbossed” legislator.
“She was an agent of change. She went against the grain,” said Shalawn Langhorne, a longtime area resident and Community Board 8 member who attended the circle dedication this week. “She was confident enough to know who she was, to be able to do things that were different.”
The public space — a large, brick-lined circle surrounded by benches, with a sapling and memorial stone dedicated to Chisholm nearby — came into being within about 6 months, according to Robyn Berland of Friends of Brower Park, who worked with the Parks Department to make the tribute a reality.
Speaking after the dedication Wednesday, Berland said the event was particularly “momentous” given it came just hours after a big political milestone: Hillary Clinton securing the Democratic nomination for president.
“Given that Hillary Clinton can stand up and say ‘I’m the first woman of a major party to run for the presidency’ — Shirley Chisholm actually ran,” in 1972, she said.
“It was the height of the Civil Rights movement, women’s equality. So today, it resonates for us women who fought that battle, in a day where it feels like there’s a loss of the ground that we won,” she added.
Locally, Chisholm is remembered as a friendly, invested member of the community. Rabbi Jacob Goldstein, the longtime leader of Community Board 9 where Chisholm lived for years, said the congresswoman was a fixture on her President Street block and a good friend to the Lubavitcher Jewish community.
“Every shopkeeper on Kingston Avenue knew Shirley Chisholm,” he said.
The Shirley Chisholm Circle is located on the eastern side of Brower Park, adjacent to Kingston Avenue and Prospect Place.