Corona Avenue renamed for slave, abolitionist

It is official, Corona Avenue from 90th to 91st Streets is now renamed Reverend James Pennington Place in honor of the former slave, abolitionist and religious leader.
The Reverend James Pennington was a leading abolitionist in the City of New York, who founded a congregation at what is now 90th Street and Corona Avenue in the mid-nineteenth century. Pennington presided over the marriage of Frederick Douglass and was the author of what is described as the first history of African-America.
Councilmember Helen Sears, officials from the Queens Historical Society and community leaders gathered in the rain at the corner of 90th Street and Corona Avenue, in Corona on February 22, for the ceremony.
Frederick Douglass the IV came from Baltimore to read from the works of his great great grandfather, the famed abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, and said that he owed the legitimacy of his heritage to Pennington.
Sears, who introduced the legislation to make the change, proclaimed that the life of this historic figure is celebrated and memorialized through the renaming of Corona Avenue in his honor.
Born in 1809, James William Charles Pennington arrived in New York in 1828. He learned to read and eventually become the first African-American to study at Yale University. According to Richard Hourahan, the Queens Historical Society’s Collection Manager, Pennington and the enclave of Newtown (as Corona was then known), played a pivotal role in the underground railway, the secret network that provided safe haven and a vital support network for escaped slaves en route to freedom.
As the gathering gravitated to a bus shelter to try and stay dry, Hourahan recounted the history of Newtown, and the laborious process he and other community leaders had followed in order to achieve this historic renaming. Richard Italiano from Community Board 4 was also present and proud to have lent his support to the proposal.
Isamar Pineda, a student of Newtown High read from Pennington’s works and then the new street sign was unveiled.