Unveiling of John Lewis Freedom Parkway and John Lewis Plaza Additions

Representative John Lewis pictured alongside (L-R) Atlanta City Council member Andre Dickens, Mayor Keisha Bottoms, media and others.
John Lewis Parkway Part I, before the unveiling.
John Lewis Parkway Part II, after the unveiling.
Atlanta Department of Public Works employees after placing their final touch on park grounds.
Clark Atlanta University Band Drum Major
Clark Atlanta University Band filing into John Lewis Freedom Plaza, site of the day’s ceremony.
Young children with caregivers as all await John Lewis’ scheduled 1 pm arrival.
Guidance on how to best use the latest addition, the John Lewis Ride to Freedom Play Space.
pictured is one of several civil rights regions featured along the Ride to Freedom Play Space. According to Monica Prothro additional signage will be installed before the end of the year. The signage will interpret civil rights history in various regions across the U.S.
“The Unveiling: John Lewis Freedom Parkway” program guide.

There were probably over a couple hundred people that came out to witness the definition of a significant moment in Atlanta history. The date, August 22nd 2018. Location, John Lewis Freedom Parkway and the corner of Ponce De Leon Ave NE. The occasion? Well, just a short time ago John Lewis Freedom Parkway was known as simply Freedom Parkway. But, in early December 2017 a resolution sponsored by Council member Andre Dickens, that called for a street name change from Freedom Parkway to John Lewis Freedom Parkway, was approved by Atlanta City Council. Following the approval, months of preparation went into changing the street name with a public, conspicuous display of admiration in Lewis’ honor. Also of note are changes in the process of being made to the existing John Lewis Plaza.

To start, imagine this —in comes one of the most notable Freedom Riders, John Lewis, on a MARTA bus designated for him, his family members, and other close supporters. With streets partially blocked, ushered in by a crew of public safety officers, the bus turns the corner… in it is Lewis and his selected bus passengers with their eyes locked on the crowd. From the MARTA bus windows they are getting their first glimpse of the amount of people that amassed to witness “the unveiling”.

Fast forward to Lewis exiting the bus. He was met by many who must have felt it was important to document that very moment in time. Whether it was a mobile phone or another digital recording device, more than not someone was working to capture an affecting image. Lewis worked his way from one end of the park to the other, surrounded by a crowd that could be described as a swarm (Note: I am curious to know if Representative Lewis felt any other way besides “in his element” while making his way alongside the crowd to the other end of the park). Just before reaching the main stage, accompanied by Councilmember Andre Dickens and Mayor Keisha Bottoms, Lewis was welcomed by the Clark Atlanta University (CAU) Band. The band performed a series of routines just as they did while the crowd awaited Lewis’ 1 pm arrival. Once the crowd settled, Dickens introduced the John Lewis Freedom Parkway task force members, other dignitaries, Mayor Keisha Bottoms, and finally John Lewis. Dickens shared that there was a connection between John Lewis and Freedom Parkway due to Lewis’ career long commitment to civil rights. Dickens shared that Freedom Parkway and Ponce De Leon Ave were the selected cross streets not just because of the original street name but also because the section remains the only highway in Atlanta that is solely a green space, void of business infrastructure.

Additionally, new features added to the already existing John Lewis Plaza, were unveiled. With the support of KaBoom, a children’s health awareness organization, the city was able to make upgrades to the park area. These changes were inspired by Lewis’ career in Civil Rights and public service, as well as his graphic novels, the Mark trilogy. Monica Prothro, Art Program Manager with the City of Atlanta shared that the Freedom Play Space is nearing completion. Additional interpretive signage and a bus honoring the Freedom Riders will be installed before year’s end.

John Lewis Freedom Parkway and additions to John Lewis Plaza are just two public spaces in Atlanta, named in honor of Representative John Lewis. During his speech, Lewis shared that he is personally championing a day when the human race can achieve solidarity. It is likely Lewis’ career long track record of working to fulfill such an ideal that has resulted in the City of Atlanta commitment to honoring his name and legacy. If you are interested in visiting a public space in Atlanta to connect with American, African American, and Civil Rights history know that John Lewis Plaza located at the corner of the newly renamed John Lewis Freedom Parkway and Ponce De Leon Northeast, is a good place to do so.

Alfred Jackson, Slave Turned “Tour Guide”

Meet Mr. Alfred Jackson. Having lived his life as an enslaved person at Andrew Jackson’s the Hermitage, he became a “tour guide” when the Ladies’ Hermitage Association turned the home into a historic site in 1889. Historian W. Fitzhugh Brundage, author of “The Southern Past” expressed “we can only wonder [how] Alfred’s position—an aged former slave who was dependent on his storytelling and white audiences for his livelihood—influenced his voiced memory.” Still, Jackson is recognized for his ability to give a first person account of the way in which the Hermitage mansion functioned as an office and gathering hall for Andrew Jackson who served as President of the United States from 1829 – 1837.

The Hermitage located in Nashville, Tennessee consists of 1,000 acres of land, where cotton was once the cash crop, worked by enslaved African American men, women and children.

Alfred Jackson’s story as an enslaved person and “tour guide” is included in the Hermitage’s current interpretive history offerings. Today, visitors can learn about Alfred’s story through an audio and walking tour, the museum’s multimedia exhibit, and the cabin he and his family resided in as freedmen. Alfred Jackson’s burial site is also located in the garden near Andrew Jackson

Image 1: Alfred Jackson.

Image 2: Alfred Jackson pictured in his home, a cabin that he shared with his wife post-slavery. Note the bed and water cooler. Those were items that Alfred purchased at a Hermitage house auction.

Image 3: Alfred Jackson “tour guide” alongside visitors at the Hermitage historic site.

[photos courtesy of Andrew Jackson Foundation | Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage]

Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery “One Year: 1968 An American Odyssey”

Photos: Courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery

(Washington, DC) In 1962 The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery was established by an act of Congress as a “free public museum…depicting men and women who have made significant contributions to the history, development and culture…of the United States.” The Portrait Gallery opened to the public in 1968.

“One Year: 1968 An American Odyssey” celebrates the museum’s 50th anniversary in a one-room exhibition and is comprised of 30 objects including “photographs, paintings, drawings and magazines that highlight a time when Americans were questioning issues of leadership, citizenship and nationhood.” This temporary exhibition is on display through May 19, 2019

Image 1: Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown by James Hinton, Jr

Image 2: Jimi Hendrix by unidentified artist; Image 3: Eldridge Cleaver by Stephen Shames

Image 4: Resurrection City in Washington DC by Oliver Atkins

Image 5: Gallery View

Poor People’s Campaign Exhibit at Ben & Jerry’s Factory

Pictured is National Museum of African American History and Culture curator, Dr. Aaron Bryant, walking alongside Ben & Jerry Ice Cream co-founder Jerry Greenfield. Dr. Bryant curated a display which depicts the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign “against racism, poverty, and militarism.” The exhibit was recently unveiled to the public and will be on display at Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, VT through Dec 31, 2018.

The Poor People’s Campaign (Poor People’s March on Washington) was organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference – the march was carried out by Ralph David Abernathy, Sr., after the passing of Dr. King. The march started in Marks, Mississippi on May 12 1968, concluding in Washington, DC 50 years ago today June 24, 1968.

Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, VT is the regions largest tourist attraction, welcoming around 400,000 visitors per year. Ben & Jerry’s CEO, Jostein Solheim shared “These issues are as pressing today as they were 50 years ago. We’re hoping these images will inspire people to join the [current] Poor People’s Campaign for racial and economic justice.”

[source: Cision PR Newswire]

Businessman and Philanthropist, Dr. William Pickard, to Sponsor Event to Benefit Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum and the Motown Museum Project

Dr. William P.

Adapted from Michigan Chronicle Feature Thank You Detroit: Pickard Picks Detroit…again

Businessman and philanthropist, Dr. William Packard, is sponsoring the first “Thank You Detroit” event which will take place this weekend, June 22nd – 24th.

Packard established himself as a McDonald’s franchisee 47-years ago, becoming one of the first African-Americans to do so. Packard is no stranger to philanthropy, having donated $1 million to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture and a host of other education and cultural institutions. This time, Packard will give back to a community he has called his home for nearly 50 years – Detroit.

The “Thank You Detroit” weekend includes an appreciation picnic for current and past employees of Pickard’s McDonald’s franchises; a black-tie gala featuring the Four Tops; and the awarding of two individual $1 million gifts to the Charles H. Wright Museum and the Motown Historical Museum expansion project.

Just Added to “Cultural & Natural Resource Directory”: Emancipation Park

Photo Source: Emancipationconservatory.org

Added Emancipation Park (Houston, TX) to the “Cultural & Natural Resource Directory”

On June 19, 1865 word was finally received in Houston, Texas that slaves were freed with the Jan 1, 1863 signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. From there, June 19 became an annual day of commemoration.

African Americans were banned from using area public parks which resulted in Reverend Jack Yates to lead Antioch Baptist Church and Trinity Methodist in forming the Colored People’s Festival and Emancipation Park Association. The group raised $1000 and in 1872 purchased 10 acres of land in Houston Texas as a home for the Juneteenth Celebration – it was named Emancipation Park.

[source: emancipationparkconservancy.org]