New York, NY—As a show of repudiation against the rising tide of hate crimes against the Asian-American community and to demonstrate the need for unity and healing, elected officials, mayoral candidates and the clergy stood together in Harlem to honor Korean-America restaurateur and entrepreneur Betty Park for being a pillar of the Harlem community.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer hosted the press conference this afternoon in front of Manna’s Restaurant on Lenox Avenue and 134th Street, and she proclaimed April 14, 2021 ‘Betty Park Appreciation Day.’
Brewer said that despite Park experiencing many, many challenges after opening her first Manna’s in 1985 and experiencing prejudice and economic recessions, Park has persevered.
“But guess what this amazing woman has done—she has hired local residents, she has sponsored the YMCA after-school program, she has provided college assistance, and she has supported the local churches,” said Brewer.
“And you have stood firm and made wise decisions that enabled Manna’s to expand—not easy in the current economic situation.”
Chaplain Robert Rice, Bethel Gospel Assembly Evangelist and Clergy Liaison to the NYPD, organized the event, as well as the clergy to be in attendance to pay homage to Ms. Park.
“We are here today collectively to address the senseless hate crimes against Asian-Americans in our city. We don’t tolerate any hate crime from anyone, whether you are Black, White or Asian, it’s unacceptable,” said Rice.
The event took place in the context of a rise of anti-Asian violence, both in New York City and nationwide. Indeed, Gothamist reported on March 30 that the NYPD was investigating 12 anti-Asian bias attacks this year, compared to zero during the same time period last year.
Dr. Bishop Carlton Brown, also of Bethel Gospel Assembly, noted it was an honor to stand with Ms. Park and to recognize her contributions to the community.
“We have partnered with her for more than 12 years in terms of helping to feed the community. She has been there for us, with us and serving as well. She’s a true friend of the Harlem community,” said Brown.
A couple of the mayoral candidates were in attendance—Ray McGuire, the former finance executive and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
Adams said that hate crimes do not and would not define New Yorkers.
“This is a city of tolerance where we celebrate our diversity—that is what makes us great,” said Adams.
Looking to Park, he added, “Congratulations to you for being a being member of the greatest race alive—and that’s the human race.”
State Senator Brian Benjamin (D-30), who is running to be the next comptroller, also proclaimed today Betty Park Appreciation Day, saying that despite her early struggles in opening and maintaining a business in Harlem, she forged ahead and, in the process, provided jobs to the community, supporting the local YMCA and the local chamber of commerce.
“That is what we want every small business to do in the village of Harlem, not just make money for yourself, but support the entire community,” said Benjamin.
Park was humbled by the gathering and thanked everyone who attended.
She first quipped, “Betty Park without Harlem is nothing.”
Then she implored the Mayor to provide more services for people who are suffering from mental illness. Despite the recent spate of attacks against Asian-Americans, she said she isn’t worried.
“If we love each other, help each other, I think that we’re going to win,” said Park.
We live-streamed most of the press conference to our Facebook Page, which can be viewed here.