The Tallahassee City Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to rename apark and pond in honor of Charles Evans, a longtime local civil rights leader and professor at Florida A&M University.
The park, located at 1115 Merritt Drive southeast of Myers Park, had been named Roy Chapman Park in honor of the late Florida Supreme Court justice.
It had been determined thatracist decisions in the court system were tied back to the park’s namesake. Chapman had helped falsely accuse the Groveland Four, a group of young Black men who were falsely accused of raping a white women. He also agreed on a ruling to segregate places in Miami.
City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox discussed in the meeting how she would always take her kids to this park to walk and feed ducks, but did not realize the injustices to Black people and the community that Chapman had contributed to.
“We would always go feed the ducks there but did not realize the history that also went along with. I can proudly take my grandkids there now and celebrate Dr. Charles Evans and all he’s done for this community,” she said.
Evans, who died in 2014, was a prominent leader and educator in Tallahassee. He was a professorfor more than three decades in FAMU’s School of Business and Industry. He was also the head of Tallahassee’s NAACP for 14 years, the second-longest tenured leader in the chapter’s history.
SBI’s dean, Shawnta Friday-Stroud, believes that he school will be excited for this official renaming as will the community and FAMU alumni.
“I think it’s great that the park and pond will be renamed. The school, community and even alumni will be excited for this,” Friday-Stroud said.
The proposal to rename the park in honor of Evans was brought to the attention of Commissioner Curtis Richardson through local historian Delaitre Hollinger, who is the executive director of the National Association for the Preservation of African American History and Culture.
Richardson said the park and pond deserved to have the name of someone more deserving and was satisfied with the decision that he and the other commissioners decided on.
“In memory of all that Dr. Charles Evans has done for the community, I say we honor his name and officially rename the Chapman Pond and Park,” Richardson said.
Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey tweeted about the decision several times following the meeting, saying he was proud to part of the effort to rename the park in honor of Evans.
A ceremony for the official renaming will be held soon.