Call to change Hemming Park’s moniker

Dear Editor:

It is time to change the name of Hemming Park to “St. James Park,” which was its name for several decades prior to being renamed after Charles Hemming. The Confederate Monument in Hemming Park was unveiled on June 16, 1898, during the reunion of the United Confederate Veterans. A year later, the Jacksonville City Council officially changed the name to “Hemming Park,” as a memorial to Civil War veteran Charles C. Hemming, for the sole reason that he had donated the money to pay for the monument. The St. James Building, which was named after the grand hotel that once stood on the site that now houses our City Hall, overlooks the park today. “St. James Park” is the perfect historic name for our park.

Wayne Wood

Editor’s Note: Hemming Park may be renamed, but it may not be called St. James Park. On June 17, District 9 City Councilman Garrett Dennis filed legislation to rename the Downtown oasis in honor of James Weldon Johnson, an American writer and civil rights activist. Johnson, a LaVilla native and historic public figure, is famous for writing the song, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” He was born in 1871 and was known during the Harlem Renaissance for his poems, novels, and anthologies of black culture. He was also principal of Stanton School, founded a newspaper, The Daily American, and was the first African American to pass the Florida Bar. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him to diplomatic positions in Venezuela and Nicaragua. He also served as executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

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