NEW YORK – The street that passes in front of the Church of St. Catherine and St. George will be forever associated with Archbishop Iakovos of America of blessed memory. The New York City Council introduced and unanimously passed a law co-naming 33rd Street between Ditmars Boulevard and 23rd Avenue for the charismatic Greek-American leader.
City Councilman Costa Constantinides will hold a celebration on March 28 at Noon in front of St. Catherine and St. George. He told The National Herald that he was happy to act on the suggestion of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York and that he worked with other elected officials, including New York State Senator Michael Gianaris and New York State Assembly Member Aravella Simotas, to make the co-naming a reality.
The press release announcing the new law noted that “Archbishop Iakovos led the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America for 37 years, from 1959-1996. He was also a vocal supporter of the civil-rights movement and showed that support by marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders in Selma, AL in 1965. In recognition of his role as a spiritual leader, President Carter awarded Archbishop Iakovos with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980. Iakovos died in 2005 at the age of 93.”
Constantinides was instrumental in the law’s passage. “I am proud to recognize Archbishop Iakovos’ contribution to our city with this street co-naming. He serves as a great role model for this community…Archbishop Iakovos took a courageous stand for freedom by marching with Dr. King in Selma, one of the few non-African-American leaders to do so. Even though his advisers cautioned him against expressing his support of the civil-rights movement, he did what he knew was important. He symbolized freedom to our Greek Orthodox community and to everyone this city,” he said.
Michael Gianaris declared, “Archbishop Iakovos was a national spiritual leader and an integral part of the Greek-American community. It is appropriate that a street will bear his name in a neighborhood that was so affected by his good works. From marching with Martin Luther King, Jr. to earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Archbishop Iakovos made the world a better place, and we can all learn from his example.”
“Archbishop Iakovos was a symbol of courage and conviction, not only for those of the Greek-Orthodox faith, but for all Americans,” said Simotas “At a time when many were silent, the Archbishop marched against hatred and oppression. It is truly fitting that we honor him ahead of the fiftieth anniversary of the Archbishop and Reverend King’s civil rights march on Selma.”
Galatoulas expresses his “profound joy because I made it a personal promise on the day of the late Archbishop’s passing that this honor would be bestowed. I would like to expresses my gratitude to Archbishop Demetrius for his unwavering support, and to City Councilman Constantinidis, who took on the responsibly to bring this effort to a successful conclusion.”
He said Iakovos was worthy of the honor because “During his tenure he managed to be the dominant leading figure of Hellenism in the United States and a privileged interlocutor with the American leadership…he sought to further Greek issues of national interest in the United States.”