Photo courtesy of GoFundMe
Mandingo Tshaka, Bayside's "community crusader"

For years, Bayside activist Mandingo Tshaka has worked to improve the borough where he grew up.

The “community crusader” was a Community Board 11 board member, fought to get drug dealers off the streets of his neighborhood and advocated for a playground behind M.S. 158. But recently, a GoFundMe user named Marion Bunn started a fundraising campaign asking the community to help Tshaka with his ailing health.

“Mandingo’s health is now failing and [he needs] our help to maintain his physical ability to live out the rest of his years comfortably,” said Bunn in the fundraiser’s description. According to Bunn, Tshaka’s “many ailments” include both prostate cancer and dementia.

The current goal is $15,000 which will go toward the 88-year-old’s medical expenses.

Among Tshaka’s most notable accomplishments was his work to get a Flushing playground recognized as a 19th Century African and Native American burial ground. Tshaka drew attention to the park’s historical relevance in the 1990s when Parks began renovating the site. In 1996,¬†Parks Department commissioned a $50,000 archeological study, during which archeologist Linda Stone concluded that between 500 to 1000 bodies were buried at the site.

Corresponding death records from 1881 to 1898 showed that 62 percent of those buried were African American or Native American, 34 percent were unidentified and more than half were children under five years old.Following the discovery, the Parks Department renamed the space The Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground in 2009.

In October 2018, Mayor Bill de Blasioa and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz allocated $1.6 million for a new memorial at the burial site.

Click here to donate to Tshaka’s GoFundMe campaign.

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