Last year, more than two dozen people – parishioners at Spritus Christi and community members – set out on a trip to learn more about racism's roots, history, and manifestations, says Myra Brown, senior pastor at Spiritus Christi.
The group visited sites of historical civil rights events and parks dedicated to the movement, which inspired the participants to create a civil rights park here in Rochester, Brown says. The City of Rochester, religious groups, and community groups are already working together to make it happen.
Mayor Lovely Warren has designated a portion of Baden Park, located at 525 Upper Falls Boulevard, for a civil rights park says Brown. And there will be a fund-raising kick-off event at the site on Saturday, September 8, from noon to 6 p.m.
Racism robs us all of our humanity and a Rochester civil rights park "is a step toward getting some of that humanity back," Brown says.
The design for Rochester's park is still in the early discussion stage, but there are loads of options, Brown says. Rochester was abolitionist Frederick Douglass's long-time home. In July 1964, riots flared in parts of the city. And Malcom X gave his last public speech at the Corn Hill Methodist Episcopal Church just days before he was assassinated.
One of the most impactful places the group saw on its trip was the 16th Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, Alabama. The church is the site of the 1963 bombing that killed four black girls and sculptures in the park depict the girls playing.
"We have our own history here that's just as rich as Selma's and Birmingham's," says Brown.
That September 8 event will also kick off the Black Community Focus Fund, an effort to address the needs and disparities confronting many black families in the 14605 community, Brown says.