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Planned park group takes shape during Saturday meeting

February 3, 2013

By CARL SMITH
news@starkvilledailynews.com

The foundation of a board tasked with Unity Park monument nominations was developed when eight residents agreed Saturday to attend such future meetings.

District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams, who moderated yesterday’s park discussions, will propose the board’s formation 9 a.m. Monday at the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors meeting.

The group will be tasked with overseeing a nomination process to add future local representation on Unity Park monuments. Currently, plaques honoring national civil rights advocates at the green space located behind Mugshots and next to the Oktibbeha County Education Building are covered by tarps. Two plaques remain blank, and residents who attended the past two Unity Park meetings agree local equality advocates must also be memorialized at the park.

In addition to forming the board with those eight meeting attendees, Williams said he will also propose each supervisor be able to nominate two additional members, bringing the board’s potential size to 18 residents. Future meetings would be held on Saturday afternoons, he said, but supervisors should finalize those plans tomorrow.

Williams is expected to serve as the group’s moderator.

In addition to yesterday’s meeting, he moderated a similar session Jan. 26 in which attendees suggested the two blank plaques be inscribed to honor three men and three women paramount to the civil rights movement in Oktibbeha County.

During Saturday’s meeting, attendees suggested the park’s center plaque — a pictureless timeline of local civil rights events that fails to name any historical figures — be removed and three plaques honoring Dorothy Bishop, Douglas Conner and Morris Kinsey be placed. Others also said they’d like to see large collages of local civil rights advocates in Unity Park.

Other names — Viola Johnson, Rosa Stewart and Henry Isaac — emerged from the previous meeting and were briefly discussed Saturday. Chris Taylor, a spokesperson for the county’s NAACP chapter, also suggested the board consider memorializing A.D. Johnson, who is said to be the first president of the Oktibbeha County NAACP.

Williams estimated the cost for larger plaques at almost $1,000 per monument.

The board could also consider memorializing other local advocates by inscribing their names on 3-foot plaques which could be placed on the brick facade between the larger monuments, Williams said.

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