It was a foregone conclusion that police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, both slain by a mentally disturbed man last year, would receive the most tributes at the recent co-naming ceremony at City Hall with Mayor Bill de Blasio presiding.
The heroic officers got their “Ways,” but so did 46 other notables, who were memorialized with streets and public places, including the esteemed author James Baldwin.
Actually, the ceremony for Baldwin occurred in the summer of 2014, but it was still awaiting the official designation that the mayor signed in the presence of Helen Baldwin and her son, Trevor, the author’s sister-in-law and nephew, respectively. “His words are more timely than ever,” Trevor Baldwin said of his uncle during his moments at the microphone. Baldwin died in December 1987 in southern France.
His “Place” is on 128th Street, between Fifth and Madison avenues, where he attended P.S. 24 elementary school, now the Harlem Renaissance High School. Jacob Morris, president of the Harlem Historical Society, was also in attendance and played a significant role in getting the honor for Baldwin.
Other African-Americans given immortality and landmarks were Basil Paterson, the legendary lawyer and community servant, honored with a boulevard, and architect and social planner Max Bond with his “Way.” If family members of either were there, they went unnoticed by this reporter.
In a written statement, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said, “Bond was a talented architect and a trailblazer … Today we recognize him for his dedication to public service, and his commitment to our city.”
Family members of Judge Hansel L. McGee, who was commemorated with his “Place,” were on hand, including Judge Leland McGee, Mildred McGee, Elizabeth McGee and attorney and activist Roger Wareham.
“The memory of these fallen heroes will remain in our hearts,” the mayor said of Ramos and Liu, but the words were clearly extended to all of those celebrated at the event.