ATLANTA—The neighborhood near Atlanta University center is so closely associated with the Civil Rights movement that its street names evoke the era: Student Movement Street, SNNC, or Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee Street. Paschals’, the restaurant where Martin Luther King and his friends planned and drank sweet tea is across the street. After the 1960s the area declined into a danger zone, yet a tenacious coalition of people is reviving it.
Atlanta city Councilwoman Cleta Winslow said, "We’ve had negative things happening in this park for a long time." But with the help of many partners, the city reclaimed it as a state of the art playground, with a climbing structure, stone walls, landscaping, swings, and deep, soft recycled rubber surfaces. She said she visited the first park of four the city has renovated, for an Easter egg hunt, and it was “still in great shape.”
Winslow said she went to the same college as Morris Brown College Marching Wolverines leader Cleopas Johnson, “a great master of music.” The actual Morris Brown Wolverines were there to honor their former teacher. A silver statue of trumpets towered over the park.
The ribbon cutting on April 26 drew business people, neighborhood residents, and government officials. MetLife Foundation funded the playground, which was a Trust for Public Land project.
Dana Thomas, and others, wore “Be Safe Project” T-shirts to represent the nonprofit he founded. Its mission is to prevent child injuries through education about household safety. Thomas has lived in Taiwan, Hawaii, and the Philippines, and has put down roots in Atlanta. He started a community garden nearby. “It goes along with Be Safe,” said Thomas.
Helen Tapp, Georgia state director of the Trust for Public Land, said improving the four parks is “spawning investments of energy, emotion, and dollars, invigorating communities around the city.”