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.

New Bedford Park Renamed for Civil Rights Hero

A New Bedford park was recently renamed in honor of city resident Dr. Jibreel Khazan, known as one of the "Greensboro Four" who in 1960 staged a sit-in protest at a Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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Many of the speakers had a lifetime commitment to human rights, but one tried to silence an activist lobbying for voting rights, before later signing off on major civil rights legislation. Several fought for freedom for more than one oppressed group.

Keep reading to discover 50 essential civil rights speeches.

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