Lift Your Voice about the naming of parks

Now that Hemming Park is no longer a racist entity in Jacksonville, we can all sleep better.

But wait!! If that is the cure to racism — changing names of parks — why haven’t we been sleeping better since 2015?

Funny thing happened on the way to Mayor Curry’s desk for changing Hemming Park to James Weldon Johnson Park. It seems there is already a park in Jacksonville honoring Mr. Johnson, his brother and the song he wrote.

In 2015, the City Council voted to name a park located in La Villa after James Weldon Johnson because it was on a historic Jacksonville site with ties to the civil-rights movement. See the 2015 news release here:

There were big plans for the park such as making it into a cultural center with public art displayed. It hasn’t happened. Right now there is nothing to signify its importance – not even school bus tours making the rounds nor are there any annual events planned to honor these men and their song.

And yet — here we go. Another park named after this great man. Good for him. He was a good man and deserves to be recognized.

But how much time was wasted by city council members trying to one up each other over the name change? How much will it take in taxpayer dollars to change the name of the “new” James Weldon Johnson park? Is all this necessary? While we are talking about repairing the damage from the past with this new name, has the city repaired the relationship with the Hemming family who has been shocked by the hate and vile comments thrown their way because of their family who donated the park to the city?

What kind of a community have we become? What kind of leaders are leading our city?

We live in strange times with our focus on stuff that doesn’t make our lives any better. Mayors, city council members and bureaucrats are swayed by the loudest voices in the room and have no courage to speak into those voices and say — Go away. We have important work to do and you are a distraction. Or better yet, say to those who spew their venom on the past, “Go ahead, cast the first stone.” Jesus used those words against the loud voices of those who condemned every one else and he sent them packing.

The lyrics to Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing are beautiful and if Mr. Johnson — a black Republican – were alive today he might tell us to listen closely to what they mean.

“Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us”
“Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us”

He wanted us to learn from our past – not tear it down. He wanted us to have hope in this present day — not destroy communities with political game playing, race baiting, tearing down history and name calling.

Five years ago James Weldon Johnson Park was named in La Villa and it’s done nothing to change the city for the better. Maybe the one in 2020 can do better. Because you know – parks with special names — makes everything better. At least that’s what the loud voices tell us.

Dear friends and followers of Eye — it is time for Every Voice to be lifted up against the tyranny of the left and the screaming, mean voices that intimidate our political “leaders” to make expensive and ridiculous decisions out of fear and retribution. And it is time for every political voice to stand strong against that fear. Every voice needs to be heard.

Enjoy this beautiful song from the Johnson brothers.

Billie Tucker Volpe Founder of Eye on Jacksonville and Leadership Consultant to CEOs/Executives

Billie Tucker Volpe

Billie Tucker Volpe Founder of Eye on Jacksonville and Leadership Consultant to CEOs/Executives.


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