By Alex christodoulides
The Macedonia AME Church in Flushing plans to honor a community activist, who is also a singer, with a tribute in song next weekend.
“They're going to honor me for my civic work,” explained honoree Mandingo Tshaka, who was born and raised in Bayside and has spent much of his adult life working to improve the community. “They're going to present me in a concert.”
The ceremony is to take place June 1 at 3:30 p.m. at Macedonia AME Church, 37-22 Union St. in Flushing.
Tshaka said he was proud of “two or three things, like the cemetery, Martin's Field.”
Martin's Field, an African-American burial ground in Bayside that dates back to the 1840s but has long used as a park, finally received recognition last year as a final resting place to between 500 and 1,000 people thanks to Tshaka's efforts.
He has also worked hard in the last 35 years to clean up Bayside from drugs, raise it out of a federal classification of borderline poverty, and fought to overturn zoning resolutions he felt were racist and unfair to the black community.
He has worked farther from home, too, contacting U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) to find out why the work of the slaves who built the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., was not mentioned anywhere in the structure.
“They weren't going to recognize the African Americans who built it, and now they are,” Tshaka said. A statue honoring their contributions is to reside in the building, thanks at least in part to his persistence.
“The only fitting place for that statue is in that rotunda,” he said of his hopes.