The corner of Verona Place and Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant was officially co-named Yusuf Kirriem Hawkins Way on Friday, in honor of the victim of racist violence.
Local leaders and elected officials unveiled the new street sign on March 19, Hawkins’ birthday, alongside his family, who said they were honored to see the Hawkins name become an official part of the New York City streetscape.
“I just thank God that he will still live on, because he leaves the Hawkins name on the map,” said Darlene Brown, Hawkins’ cousin. “It’s a blessing.”
An East New York native, Hawkins was murdered in Bensonhurst in 1989 after a group of white men mistakenly believed he was romantically involved with a local girl, leading to a mob brawl that saw Hawkins shot to death — one of three mob killings of Black men that sparked widespread protests, and ignited a conversation about race throughout New York City.
Hawkins’ death received new attention in the last year during similar protests over more recent killings of unarmed Black men, as well as from an HBO documentary on the incident that garnered widespread critical praise.
“He didn’t get to have a family of his own but he inspired a family of activists,” said Bedford-Stuyvesant Councilmember Robert Cornegy at Friday’s co-naming ceremony. “He inspired me and ever single person here and every single person that hears the sound of my voice.”