Christine Quinn Speaks Up for Al Jolson

It’s been a while since Al Jolson was in the news this much, I’m guessing, but… Christine Quinn today defended her support for a street renaming for Jolson, who, for you youngsters out there, famously performed in blackface in The Jazz Singer. Critics have asserted that it is hypocritical of Quinn to rename a street after Jolson, but to speak out (as she has recently) against naming one after black nationalist Sonny Carson.

“If you look at the totality of Al Jolson’s record, he took significant steps, he tried to increase the number of African-Americans who performed on Broadway,” Quinn told reporters at a press conference before a Council meeting today. The Council is about to vote on an amendment to reinsert Carson’s name into an omnibus street renaming bill.

Quinn went on to say she’s open to reviewing previously approved street renamings.

“If people think mistakes have been made in the past, we can go back and look at those,” she said. “But that’s not–and I don’t believe we have made mistakes. And I don’t believe the Al Jolson renaming was a mistake.”