News Flash

City of White Plains News

Posted on: January 31, 2022

BLACK HISTORY MONTH Spotlight: Rose Kittrell

Rosa Kittrell younger image

Rosa Kittrell

Kittrell Park, a popular recreation site with a swimming pool, basketball court, and children’s play area, was named in honor of Rosa Kittrell, a crusader for mental health programs and founder of the Carver Community Center. 

A graduate of the Hampton Institute and the Bishop Tuttle School for Social Work, Rosa used her education and gifts to create programs to fulfill the needs of her community and inspire many on to future successes. "Others, Lord Others" was the guiding mantra of the legendary White Plains "Children's Champion" and "Pioneer Community Activist.

Rosa devoted her life to humanitarian causes. She was the founder of the Carver Community Center and the Kittrell Nursery School.

Born and raised in North Carolina, Rosa moved to White Plains where she made her mark.  In 1939 she (in collaboration with Dr. Thomas P. Brennan, noted Psychiatrist and friend/Grasslands hospital) pioneered White Plains’ first community-based White Plains Mental Hygiene Group. It was open to everyone but specifically served the needs of African Americans. At the time, mental health was a subject that was not discussed too much out in the open. Rosa sought to change the public's understanding of these issues. In this way, she was ahead of her time. 

In 1945, assessing the needs of the White Plains community at large, Rosa fought to establish the Carver Community Center, White Plains first community-based center to provide a safe haven for recreational and social activities.

In 1952, Rosa founded Kittrell Nursery school, the first White Plains, community-based and designed pre-school. In many ways it was a direct precursor to President Lyndon B. Johnson's nationally executed government HeadStart Program. Her sister and mentor Dr. Flemmie P. Kittrell, Dean at Howard University School of Home Economics (aka, Human Ecology), developed an initial pilot program at Howard testing and assessing the emotional, educational, social and nutritional needs in early childhood, on which Kittrell Nursery based its program. The nursery school enabled mothers in the community to go back to work with confidence that their children were being well care for and that all of their needs were being met. While this may seem normal or expected now, it was a novel idea for the time.  Once again, Rosa Kittrell was ahead of her time.

In 1978, the City of White Plains dedicated the 1.67 specialty park at the corner of Fisher Avenue and Irving Place to honor the memory of Mrs. Kittrell. The park is located in Fisher Hill and boasts of a newly renovated pool, a fitness center, and accessible playground.

 

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