MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - After a painful community split over a dog park proposal in 2010, a civil rights themed park in south Minneapolis is a first of its kind park and playground.
Community leaders celebrated the opening of Martin Luther King Park Saturday.
“And now today we are going to open this historic, first only in the United States of America
park that looks at the civil rights movement and African American inventors!” Program Chair Sabathani Community Center, Mary Merrill Anderson said.
“We have to remember how this playground came about. It came out of a struggle.” Hennepin County Commissioner, Peter McLaughlin said.
In 2010, the dog park proposal made some residents uneasy because the park was renamed from Nicollet Field after Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. council formed in 2010 to help raise money for the $675,000 playground.
“And the community rose up and said we don't want a dog park in Martin Luther King Park given the history of dogs in the civil rights movement.” Peter McLaughlin said.
“This has been a long time coming and we've always felt we needed to tell our own story.” Council member, Verlena Matey-Keke said.
The black history themed playground is aimed at elementary school children but attracts just as many adults.
“Our children need to know from where they came, they need to know they are the result of the love of thousands, and the only way to know that is if they connect with their history.” Verlena Matey-Keke said.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Council has ambitions for more at the park. They hope to include everyone in the conversation about additions to the park that will educate everyone who pays a visit.