BY ROBERT WIRSING
The Bronx mourns the loss of a historic
councilman and Civil Rights advocate.
Rev. Dr. Wendell Foster, the fi rst African
American from the Bronx elected to the City
Council, passed away on Wednesday, September
4 at 95-years-old.
Foster served on the Council from January
1, 1978 to December 31, 2001.
“Rev. Dr. Wendell Foster was a trailblazer,
the fi rst black elected representing the Bronx
in the City Council,” Assembly Speaker Carl
Heastie said. “He was a mentor to many of today’s
Foster, a Civil Rights advocate, was involved
with New York CORE (Congress of Racial
Equality) since the mid 1940s.
He played a central role in the Pallisades
Park demonstrations in the summers of 1947
According to NY CORE, Foster and other
members went into the New Jersey amusement
park’s water and refused to leave during
the demonstrations to integrate the park’s
The Alabama native and his wife of nearly
63 years Helen moved to Highbridge in 1964.
In 1965, he was appointed the American
Committee on Africa’s associate director and
frequently collaborated with CORE founding
members George Houser and James Robinson.
That same year, Foster marched alongside
the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and
other Civil Rights activists on the Selma to
In Morrisania, Foster served as a founding
pastor at Christ Church on 860 Forest Avenue
for over 42 years.
He recently became a pastor emeritus at
the ‘church where visitors are only strangers
Foster had previously ran twice for the
City Council before he was fi nally elected in
hroughout his 23-year tenure, he served
as a councilman for the 16th Council District
which encompasses Morrisania, Highbridge,
Claremont, Concourse, Concourse Village,
Morris Heights and Mount Eden.
His daughter Helen Diane Foster was
elected in 2001 to his council seat as he became
Much like her father, Helen Diane Foster
also made history by becoming the fi rst
African American woman elected from the
Bronx to the City Council. She served as
councilwoman from January 1, 2002 to December
31, 2013 and was succeeded by former
Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson.
“I am honored to represent the same district
he led in the Council for 23 years,” Gibson
expressed. “He was a committed and
dedicated public servant who gave his all to
making a difference during a challenging
time in the Bronx.”
Local and city elected offi cials expressed
their gratitude for Foster’s public service.
“He was a historic fi gure in our borough
and a dedicated public servant,” Borough
President Ruben Diaz, Jr. stated. “My
thoughts are with his family and friends during
this diffi cult time.”
“(Wendell Foster) endured Jim Crow,
marched for Civil Rights, fought to open
doors of opportunity for his constituents in
the Bronx and blazed a trail for black lawmakers
across our city,” Mayor de Blasio
Foster is survived by his wife Helen; his
daughters Helen and Rebekah and his two
BRONX WEEKLY S www.BXTimes.com eptember 15, 2019 10
First black Bronx councilman
Wendell Foster, passes at 95
Rev. Dr. Wendell Foster was a 23-year councilman, Civil Rights advocate and Christ Church founding
pastor. Photo courtesy of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality)
BY ALEX MITCHELL
The east Bronx is welcoming
an upgrade in NYPD security and
surveillance. Ten new ‘argus’ surveillance
cameras are being installed
around the 45th Precinct as
of Wednesday, August 28.
Councilman Mark Gjonaj made
the announcement adjacent to the
City Island Bridge on City Island
Avenue, one of the locations that
received the monitored camera upgrade.
“What we’re trying to do here
is prevent crime more than trying
to stop it,” he said following the unveiling.
The other nine locations scattered
around the 45th Precinct are:
Dewey Avenue and the Cross Bronx
Expressway exit, East Tremont and
Waterbury avenues, Wilkinson Avenue
and Bruckner Boulevard along
the north side of Wilkinson Avenue,
Crosby and Westchester Avenues,
East Tremont Avenue and Unionport
Road, Zerega and Westchester
avenues, Brush Avenue near The
Home Depot Entrance, and Tratman
and St. Peters avenues.
Each of these spots were determined
to need the surveillance by
the 45th according to Gjonaj.
The intersection of Tratman
and St. Peters is home to the Pearly
Gates Park, which has been receiving
security upgrades for some
years now because of nefarious behavior.
The NYC Parks Department
installed improved LED lighting
there in 2018 to discourage criminal
activity as well.
“Of course nothing beats having
police on the ground but I truly
do believe these cameras are one of
the next best things,” Gonaj said,
mentioning the $1 million in funding
that he allocated for the cameras.
“The message is clear, if you
commit a crime - you will be
caught,” the councilman said.
NYPD Argus cameras installed
at 45th Precinct-selected sites
The newly installed argus camera on
the City Island Bridge Aracelis Batista
Councilman Mark Gjonaj (c) joins City Island safety advocate Bill Stanton (l) and 45th Precicnt Coummity Council president
Bob Bieder (r) Aracelis Batista