NEWBURGH - On October 18, 2013, City officials joined the family of the late Rev. Sylvester McClearn for a street dedication in his honor. A portion of Liberty Street from Third to Farrington was renamed "Rev. Sylvester McClearn Way" to commemorate the many contributions of the long-time pastor of the First United Methodist Church on Liberty Street. Rev. McClearn passed away on July 3, 2013.
In addition to serving as pastor of the church for 28 years, McClearn was well known as a businessman, community activist, and a family man. He and his wife Billie raised six children, operated several businesses including a clothing store, ice cream parlor and restaurant, and sponsored several basketball and softball teams in the community.
Described as "one of the hardest working pastors in the faith," Rev. McClearn was active in many key organizations including the Black Commonwealth, the Greater Newburgh Ministerial Association, NAACP, New City Partners of Newburgh, the Black Ministerial Fellowship, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Celebration Committee and Black & Hispanic Coalition. He was founder and Chairman of the Board of the Newburgh Interfaith Emergency Housing for the Homeless (Project LIFE). Through the Black Commonwealth he started the Miss Black Newburgh beauty pageant and the corresponding annual parade. He also led the movement to re-name a street in Newburgh in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rev. Willie Mays offered the opening prayer at Friday’s street dedication. Mayor Judy Kennedy read City Council Resolution #188-2013, which authorized the street dedication in Rev. McClearn’s honor. Pastor Frank Windom, First United Methodist Church, Councilman Curlie Dillard, and Richard McClearn also spoke at the ceremony.