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Monday, January 24, 2011

Local Street Takes Late Reverend’s Name

Daisy Staggers, widow of the late Rev. James B. Staggers, with the new street sign. (Photo by F.G. Pinto)


[Editor's Note: A version of this article first appeared in the latest issue of the Tremont Tribune, which is on the streets now]

On the Anniversary of Martin Luther King JR’s Birthday, a packed congregation came together to honor another great Reverend, the late James B. Staggers, with a street renaming ceremony.

“Rev. James B. Staggers Place” was unveiled by Council Member Joel Rivera and Rev. Staggers’ wife on East 181st Street between Vyse Avenue and Bryant Avenue in front of New Tabernacle Baptist Church.

The choir led by Staggers’ daughter started the ceremony by bringing down the house and everyone to their feet.

Fellow reverends, family and friends, and Council Members including Helen Foster and Joel Rivera then spoke on his many achievements, calling him a loving and caring man.

“I am so proud and happy to see honor restored to my late husband,” said a choked up Daisy Staggers. “He would do anything he could for anyone that needed his help.”

Staggers (December 11, 1925 – September 18, 2008) served as pastor of New Tabernacle Baptist Church for 38 years. During that time he obtained the 501 {c}{3} not-for-profit certification for the church allowing them to establish services such as a food pantry and drug and alcohol programs for the community. He was a member of many religious organizations and conferences throughout the U.S.

Rivera called him a “stabilizing force in the community [who] gave hope in bad times.”

“When a child walks down the street and sees that sign and asks who is that, a story of a struggle will be told,” Rivera, the sponsor of the renaming, added. “Hopefully that child will want to become involved in the church, become a leader.”


  1. I mean no disrespect. I understand the sentimentality of renaming a street after someone who contributed to the community but....I am not a fan of it. I think it gets very frustrating to residents and visitors alike when they can not find a location because the name of the street has changed. NYC had originally had an ingenious concept of the number Streets and number Avenues to avoid this sort of sentimentality and constantly reconfiguring maps and directions and we have veered from this. There are other ways that someone significant to the community can be visually recognized but my guess is that this is the cheapest and easiest thing to do. The sad part is that the larger community and maybe just one generation removed it then becomes insignificant and the city is stuck with an unusual, hard to remember and at times unflattering Street name. Just look at the ones that have been done 10 to 20 years ago and use those as a reference. Some of them are a mouthful and and many people still refer to them as the original. Prime example and I think worst offender, Avenue of the Americas Vs. 6th Ave! Just a pet peeve of mine.

  2. These honorary street names are just that, honorary. The real name of the street remains the same and is marked as such, along with the honorary street name.

    Sixth Avenue (which most people still use and which the post office still recognizes) was a different thing entirely.

    My pet peeve? The fact that all street signs in every city and town everywhere are now going to be in that "Interstate" font. What an awful idea.

  3. I just experienced the same feelings of frustration when my local councilperson sumitted a bill to change the Dr.Theodore Kazimiroff Blvd back to Southern Blvd. He had to be prodded to retain the name Kazimiroff, so apparently the CO-NAMING process is not automatic. It only takes a generation to forget. Even more frustrating is when a community changes the name of a district school. Where is our sense of history and loyalty to those whose deeds benefitted a community enough to warrant such ephemeral recognition? Of course, Lou Gehrig Plaza is forever, right? ***icle***


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