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Williams calls for Unity Park talks

January 25, 2013

By CARL SMITH
news@starkvilledailynews.com

A public meeting will be held 10 a.m. Saturday at the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex to address residents’ concerns over Unity Park.

District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams will moderate the discussion, which he said could lead to the nomination of a local civil rights and education pioneer to be featured on one of the park’s blank plaques.

Unity Park, an outdoor green space built along with the Oktibbeha County Education Building in 2011, features four engraved plaques honoring national figures instrumental in the fight for equality, including President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and A. Phillip Randolph; a plaque outlining the history of the local civil rights movement; and two blank plaques.

Even though five of the seven plaques are already engraved and ready for display, all remain covered from public view by tarp.

“It’s important for the community that we get some kind of closure on the Unity Park situation,” Williams said. “Residents who deserve proper recognition will receive that type of representation.”

Discussion on the park’s status began Sunday when Williams and former Oktibbeha County NAACP President Dorothy Bishop were contacted about the reasons behind delaying the unveiling. Williams said residents felt Oktibbeha County civil rights and education pioneers were under-represented at Unity Park and wanted more local acknowledgement before the monuments’ full unveiling.

“I really appreciate the work that’s happening for (Unity Park), and I think we’re going to get to a point we can open it,” Bishop, the first female county NAACP president, said.

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