Harlem street being co-named after St.Kitts Rooted civic leader Evelyn Thomas

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West 132nd Street between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevards will be co-named in honor of civic leader Evelyn Thomas.

Family, friends are gathering for a renaming ceremony set for July 17. Council Member Bill Perkins, Assemblywoman Inez Dickens, former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and former Congressman Charles Rangel are scheduled to be in attendance.

Thomas, who died in 1999, was born to parents who immigrated from St. Kitts and was raised a block south on 131st Street. She founded the Central Harlem Association of Small Homeowners and Small Businessmen in 1957 and became known as a civic leader, according to a local block association that organized the co-naming.

In addition to her civic leadership, Evelyn Thomas was the secretary to Percy Sutton from 1966-77 and continued her work to advance neighborhood preservation and investment in the Harlem community until her death in 1999.

In 1959, Mayor Robert Wagner appointed Thomas to the Committee on Harlem Affairs, a group tasked with studying racial tensions in the neighborhood after a “near riot” broke out outside the NYPD’s 28th Precinct that July.

During that same decade, she fought against “slum clearance” projects that threatened a slew of brownstones on West 131st and 132nd streets, most of which were owned by African American and Caribbean American families, according to the block association.

Evelyn Thomas (Neighbors United of West 132nd Street Block Association)

“Evelyn Thomas is an unsung heroine,” said Stanley McIntosh, president of the Neighbors United of West 132nd Street Block Association, in a news release.

“She saved an entire city block of brownstones— 131st and 132nd Streets,” he added. “Saving the neighborhood is one of the greatest examples of fighting the worst elements of urban renewal.”

Saturday’s ceremony will be held from 12:30–2 p.m at the southeast corner of 132nd Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Guests will include former U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, City Councilmember Bill Perkins, Assemblymember Inez Dicke ns and former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields.

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