‘A permanent part of this community’: Kensington street co-named ‘Little Bangladesh’ to celebrate, commemorate Bangladeshi community

little bangladesh street sign
The corner of McDonald and Church avenues in Kensington were co-named “Little Bangladesh” on Sunday to celebrate and commemorate the thriving Bangladeshi community there.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

A section of McDonald Avenue in Kensington has been officially co-named “Little Bangladesh” to celebrate the Bangladeshi community there and its contributions to the neighborhood.

“Why add the name Little Bangladesh to the McDonald Avenue and Church Avenue corridor?” Hanif wrote on Instagram after the co-naming. “It is so that we see this neighborhood as our home and to further establish our commitment to serving and protecting this community.”

Councilmember Shahana Hanif joined leaders from the local Bangladeshi community, city Comptroller Brad Lander, and Assemblymember Robert Carroll as they unveiled the new street sign at the corner of Church Avenue on Oct. 16.

little bangladesh shahana hanif
Councilmember Shahana Hanif, who grew up in Kensington and is the daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants, managed to get the co-naming approved after just ten months in office. Photo by Caroline Ourso

“Lots of joy in Kensington today as the corner of McDonald & Church Aves was co-named ‘Little Bangladesh.’” said Lander, who previously represented the nabe in the Council. “Props to [Hanif]: I did not get this done in 12 years. It took her less than 10 months!”

The growing Bangladeshi community has been a cornerstone of the area for years — especially on the streets surrounding McDonald and Church, where Bangladeshi cafés and restaurants abound. About 16% of the city’s Bangladeshi population lives in Brooklyn, according to a 2019 survey by the Asian-American Federation, and the number of Bangladeshi people living in New York City doubled between 2010 and 2020, according to city data. 

Recognizing the community was particularly important to Hanif — the daughter of immigrants from Bangladesh and the first Muslim woman to be elected to the City Council. Carving out a community in Brooklyn hasn’t always been easy — in 2016, local community leaders expressed their concerns about deportations in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory. 

people in bangladeshi dress at conaming
Local community groups sang and celebrated the co-naming, which has been a long time coming, according to former councilmember Brad Lander. Photo by Caroline Ourso

The councilmember — who previously worked in Lander’s office — proposed co-naming the street back in April, just a few months after a Queens intersection was dubbed “Little Bangladesh Avenue” to celebrate the significant Bangladeshi population there. 

“For years everyone knew this was the heart of Brooklyn’s Bangladeshi community; it’s nice to put a name on it,” Carroll said. “Major credit must be given to our City Councilmember … who made this possible.”

Local children sang and spoke about the importance of their heritage and the co-naming as they and their families waved American and Bangladeshi flags. 

bangladeshi flag
The co-naming solidifies the street as a permanent home for the local Bangladeshi community, Hanif said. Photo by Caroline Ourso

The co-naming also recognizes the struggles Bangladeshi immigrants faced traveling to and establishing their lives in Brooklyn, Hanif said online, and empowers them to keep fighting and advocating for themselves in the city.

“This street is a permanent part of this community for generations to witness our contributions and legacy and our love for Kensington,” she said. “My community doesn’t often get to celebrate and gather for joy, and they know the past 10 months in office haven’t been easy for me. I’ve deep gratitude for their grace in the moments we’ve been in conflict, and I know with their continued blessings I’ll continue to rise up.”