Jacksonville To Dedicate ‘Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing’ Park

Jun 15, 2015

James Weldon Johnson (back) and his brother John Rosamond Johnson.
Credit ASCAP / James Weldon Johnson papers, Manuscript Archives, and Rare Book Library, Robert W. Woodruff, Emory University.

A park is being planned on a historic Jacksonville site with ties to the civil-rights movement.

The Durkeeville Historical Society and city of Jacksonville plan to dedicate the birth site of Jacksonville’s Johnson brothers as the “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” Park.

The park is named after the song written by John Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson in the late 1800s, which the NAACP calls the “Black National Anthem.”

The Durkeeville Historical Society donated three historical markers for the dedication — one for each brother and a third with the lyrics of the song.

Society President Lloyd Washington says the park is just the first phase of the project.

“This is something that’s well overdue, and hopefully it’s just the start,” Washington said.

Phase-two plans include collaborating with the city’s Cultural Council. City Council member Warren Jones says he hopes to get enough funding to install art projects in the space sometime next year.

“James Weldon and Rosamond Johnson made a lot of contributions to this city and this country, and we certainly need to recognize their contributions and  honor them by recognizing their home site,” Jones said.

The dedication is planned for Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Johnson brothers’ homesite in LaVilla.