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Bench Dedication Procession to Memorial Park Led by Nyack College Music Students

Posted by Deborah.Walker on Monday May 18, 2015

On Monday, May 18, Rockland County leaders and organizations hosted a special dedication ceremony for the Toni Morrison Society’s “Bench by the Road Project.” The Society, founded in 2006, has advanced its goal of "creating an outdoor museum of benches that marks important historical locations in the African diaspora in the United States and abroad." Fourteen benches have been installed around the globe.

The village of Nyack was named the 15th location for one of the prestigious benches honoring the memory of 19th century Nyack resident and one-time slave, Cynthia Hesdra. In 2010, a section of town was renamed Cynthia Hesdra Way. The bench will sit 400 yards from property that was owned by Ms. Hesdra from 1837 through 1859, the period when Underground Railroad activity was most intense. Nyack was considered the half-way point between Underground Railroad stops in Jersey City, New Jersey and Newburgh, New York.

The afternoon event began at Nyack Center where members of the Nyack College Chorale from the Rockland County and Manhattan campuses performed and were directed by 2015 Nyack alumnus Jamal Sarikoki. The Bachelor of Sacred Music major (picture above left) with his fellow vocalists led the procession to Memorial Park were the Nyack bench was dedicated.

Nobel Prize-and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist Toni Morrison joined celebrants at the park and shared remarks.

Read more about this historic Nyack commemoration here

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