Last Sunday, local elected officials and community members joined the family of the late Zanu Glenroy Simpson to unveil the street sign for Zanu G. Simpson Way.
In June, the City Council passed Local Law 139, which included the proposal by Council Member I. Daneek Miller (D-Hollis) to co-name the street corner at 99th Avenue and Hollis Avenue in memoriam to the famed Strictly Skillz barbershop co-owner and master barber, who was gunned down last year in a botched robbery attempt.
His parents’ pursuit of the American Dream brought Mr. Simpson to Hollis from his family’s home in Hanover, Jamaica, one year following his birth. The principles they instilled in him were the driving force for all of Zanu’s achievements; first as as a star athlete in football and basketball with the Springfield Rifles, then later at Bayside High School where he was selected for the New York City Coaches Association All-City Football Team.
Mr. Simpson hung up his jersey after high school to learn the trade of barbering under his brother and Strictly Skillz founder Sam “Sneed” Simpson, and went on to become a master at the trade with a clientele that included celebrities like hip-hop artists Mobb Deep, Meek Mills, Bow Wow, and NBA All-Star Kevin Durant.
Affectionately known in the community as Z Da Great, Zanu was especially adored for the charitable works he performed, including the free haircuts he offered to neighborhood kids and annual back-to-school giveaway at Peters Field that he and his brother organized.
“I offer my condolences to the family of Zanu Simpson,” said Miller. “A street naming is symbolic of a neighborhood’s identity and tells future generations its story. The dedication of Zanu G. Simpson Way will reflect that Z was a man of initiative who never lost his humility despite his success, and gave unsparingly to his community.”
“I thank Councilman Miller for his efforts in providing this street co-naming,” said brother Sam ‘Sneed’ Simpson. “Zanu was truly genuine, and losing him was devastating to our family. Though my baby brother, best friend, and co-worker is gone, Zanu’s death will not be in vain. I will honor his legacy by continuing the work we did together, including Z Da Great Day at Peters Field. This is just the beginning.”
“Zanu Simpson was a successful, beloved community member with a network of friends, family, and customers that stretched far beyond Southeast Queens,” said Senator Leroy Comrie. “His death shook so many and reminded us of the terrible toll that gun violence takes on communities of color. I commend Council Member Miller for his efforts to rename the street outside of Strictly Skillz in memory of Zanu.”
“In renaming this street after Zanu G. Simpson, we memorialize him as a beloved community leader, a successful barber, and generous neighbor,” said Congressman Gregory Meeks. “This street will serve as a reminder to us all of the cost of senseless violence, and will allow us to honor Mr. Simpson as it stands at the center of the community he so loved and served. Our thoughts continue to be with his family and loved ones.”
“We celebrate and honor Zanu G. Simpson,” said Assemblyman Clyde Vanel. “He was a gem in this neighborhood and a community leader. May his legacy live on.”