To paraphrase the late, great Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin: “All Uniondale’s asking for is a little respect.”
Uniondale residents strenuously - and correctly - object to their hometown being called anything but its proper name. Where we live is a source of great pride, and our hometowns should be fully credited for all the wonderful assets and institutions contained within their borders. In Uniondale, these include historic Mitchel Field, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Nassau Community College, the corporate headquarters of Lufthansa United States, and Uniondale High School’s nationally celebrated Rhythm of the Knight Show Choir. And that’s barely scratching the surface.
For decades, though, the people of Uniondale have been deprived of the full recognition that their hometown deserves. In the most egregious example, an entire three-square mile portion of Uniondale was arbitrarily renamed “East Garden City” for reasons more steeped in real estate marketing and whitewashing than any connection to geographical reality or heartfelt community sentiment.
After years of advocacy, community advocates prevailed in 2015 in their mission to have “East Garden City” stricken as a census-designated area, which resulted in the area’s restoration to Uniondale starting with the 2020 census. I was proud to work alongside Uniondale community advocates and my federal and town government colleagues to bring this to fruition.
While correcting the Census was a major step forward, ensuring that Uniondale receives the recognition it deserves remains a work in progress. The since-erased “East Garden City” continues to appear in sporadic County documents, and Uniondale addresses get “moved” to Garden City erroneously, such as the Nassau County Police Training Center and the Roosevelt Field mall. Civic leaders highlighted this point during a recent rally outside Museum Row to drive the point home that “East Garden City” no longer exists.
And then, “Jeopardy!” on June 3 mentioned Uniondale’s Museum Row - but said it was in Garden City.
Museum Row falls entirely within the borders of the Second Legislative District - a jurisdiction that is very well represented by my colleague and friend, Legislator Siela Bynoe. Not only is it clear as day on the Census maps that Museum Row is in Uniondale, the Second Legislative District does not have one square inch of Garden City within its borders. Legislator Bynoe’s subsequent letter to “Jeopardy!” Executive Producer Michael Davies addressing the error gained national attention, and I hope this will be a spark for the type of ongoing education, outreach and advocacy that will drive home the message once and for all that Uniondale is one community in both name and heart.
Kevan M. Abrahams, of Freeport, represents the First Legislative District and is the leader of the Nassau County Legislature’s Minority Caucus.