New Bedford Park Renamed in Honor of Civil Rights Hero Dr. Jibreel Khazan
City officials and community leaders gathered Saturday in New Bedford to rename a park at Hillman and Ash Streets to honor civil rights hero and New Bedford resident Dr. Jibreel Khazan.
Khazan was born in North Carolina and lived there as a young adult. In February 1960, Khazan – then known as Ezell Blair, Jr. – took part in a lunch counter sit-in with three other men to protest segregation at a Woolworth's department store in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The protest continued continued for days, and the actions of the "Greensboro Four" ignited other protests across the country. It led to the desegregation of Woolworth's, the passage of the 1960 Civil Rights Bill, the Interstate Commerce Commission ruling against segregation, and the first National Public Accommodations Act in 100 years.
Khazan arrived in New Bedford in 1965 and worked as a teacher for the Rodman Job Corps. He co-founded the National Conference of Black Empowerment in 1966. He has also worked as a teacher in Boston, a programming coordinator for the AFL/CIO, and as a counselor for the CETA Program in New Bedford.
Organizers of Saturday's event described Dr. Khazan as a storyteller, oracle, oral historian and lecturer. During remarks at the ceremony, Khazan described the people of New Bedford as a credit to America.
Khazan was also presented with the Black Excellence on the Hill Award by State Rep. Antonio Cabral (D-New Bedford). The award recognizes Black community leaders and trailblazers in Massachusetts.