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Social Justice Park Planned for East Broad Street

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Social Justice Park Planned for East Broad Street
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Columbus may bring to life the country’s first ever Social Justice Park. The First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ of Columbus submitted a Request for Conceptual Review to the Downtown Commission to construct the park at 404 East Broad Street in the Discovery District.

Named after Rev. Dr. Washington Gladden, a prominent Columbus social justice leader in the early 1900s, the park will complete two blocks of green space along the north side of Broad Street, between Cleveland and Washington Avenues.

It’ll be the first park dedicated to social justice, but other similarly themed parks have gone up around the country. New York is home to the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, focused on the first Women’s Rights Convention that was held in Seneca Falls in 1848. Birmingham, Alabama has its own Civil Rights National Monument and Park, which remembers the cruel treatment of non-violent African-American protesters in 1963. A couple hours south in Selma, Alabama is the Voting Rights National Monument and Park, dedicated to the leaders of the voting rights movement.

Columbus’ Social Justice Park will “become a focal point for creating awareness, building partnerships, and celebrating achievements in addressing issues of social justice.” Public art projects reflecting social justice will be the main feature to the park, though all the details of the design are still developing.

“Right now we’re just trying to get the [Downtown Commission’s] reaction,” said Tom Worley,Park Planning Group Chair. “The illustrations have already changed, so tomorrow’s meeting will have new illustrations, but we expect they will change once again before next month after we get the input from the commission and from others that we’re working with in the community.”

Conceptually, Worley said they don’t want the park to be described as a “church park; it’s meant to be a community park, and it’s meant to be funded through a community fundraising program.” That fund is in the process of being set up with the Columbus Foundation.

The First Congregational UCC will bring the park’s concept and design before the Downtown Commission at their meeting tomorrow, May 23.

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