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Boston Parks Celebrates Black History Month

We're marking Black History Month by lifting up the stories behind the some of Boston's favorite neighborhood spaces. Honor their legacy by visiting these public spaces with renewed understanding of their struggles and achievements.

Justice Edward O. Gourdin

Gourdin Park - Roxbury

  • Formerly called Dudley Park, the area was reimagined as a community park. The local 272nd Field Artillery Battalion veterans association suggested dedicating the park to Brigadier General Edward O. Gourdin.
  • Justice Gourdin was the first man in history to break 25 feet in the long jump. He earned a silver medal in the event for the United States at the 1924 Paris Olympics.
  • Justice Gourdin was the first Black judge appointed to the Roxbury District Court and the first Black person in New England appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court.
  • In October of 2021 the City of Boston broke ground and kicked off improvements for the park. The park will now be home to a memorial plaza dedicated to the African-American veterans of Massachusetts. The project is the result of the steadfast, multi-year efforts of the Veterans and Friends of Gourdin Memorial Park community group.
  • The artwork design and construction is being funded by the Browne Fund, the Mayor's Capital Improvement Program, and a grant from the MA Department of Veterans Services. The overall park construction is being funded by the Mayor’s Capital Improvement program with a total budget of $1,272,200.  

Justice Gourdin and his wife

Gourdin statue

Clarence 'Jeep' Jones

Jeep Jones Park - Roxbury

  • Clarence “Jeep” Jones (1933-2020) grew up in lower Roxbury and spent most of his life there.
  • Jones was a prominent civil rights activist and was Boston’s first African-American Deputy Mayor after a 32-year career working with the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
  • Jones was awarded an honorary doctorate in public service from Northeastern University in 2005.
  • Jeep Jones park was first opened in 2010 as a 1.68 acre park with an upper and lower terrace.  The park will soon be undergoing a $670,000 upgrade. Through this project, the lower terrace will become the home of a new play area for 0-5 aged children.  The upper terrace playground will be renovated to accommodate older children.

Jeep Jones Park lower terrace

Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley Statue - Commonwealth Avenue Mall

  • Phillis was born in West Africa and sold as a slave from the ship "Phillis" in colonial Boston. She became a literary prodigy. Her 1773 volume "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral" was the first book published by an African writer in America.
  • The City dedicated the Boston Women’s Memorial on October 25, 2003. Artist Meredith Bergmann's vision displays a new way of thinking about public art. Unlike larger than life statues, these invite people to interact with them.
  • “...in every human Breast, God has implanted a Principle, which we call Love of Freedom; it is impatient of Oppression, and pants for Deliverance ... the same Principle lives in us.”

Harriet Tubman photo - CBA

Captain David L. Ramsay

Ramsay Park - South End

  • Ramsay Park in the South End was named after local veteran Captain David L. Ramsay who served as a pilot during the Vietnam War.
  • Capt. Ramsay was assigned to the Fourth Tactical Fighter Squadron at Da Nang Air Base in Vietnam. He lost his life when his F-4 fighter jet was shot down near Da Nang.
  • The square was dedicated to Ramsay in 1984 and Ramsay Park was dedicated in his honor November 20, 1999.
  • Captain David Ramsay graduated from English High School in 1956 and was one of the first 50 African Americans to graduate from West Point. His younger brother also graduated from West Point in 1966 and became a United States Air Force pilot who flew B-52 bombers in Vietnam. They were the first brothers of African American heritage to attend and graduate from West Point.
  • The park received a $2.4 million renovation in 2018 as part of Mayor Marin J. Walsh’s Imagine Boston 2030 capital plan.

Ramsay Park Court

Ramsay etch

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman Square - South End

  • Harriett Tubman’s memory is honored as an abolitionist, Underground Railroad conductor, spy, nurse, warrior, and women’s right crusader who had close ties to the City due to its central role in the abolitionist and women’s rights movements.
  • After freeing herself from slavery, Tubman spent the rest of her life working to free other enslaved people, end slavery, and improve the lives of African-Americans and women of all races.
  • On June 1, 1863, Tubman became the first woman to plan and execute an armed expedition during the Civil War, successfully freeing 800 enslaved people and destroying valuable confederate infrastructure and supplies.
  • Harriet Tubman Square in the South End features a 10-foot bronze statue, the first statue on City-owned property to honor a women. Bronze decorative pavers depict aspects of the underground railroad mixed into the bricks. To learn more about Harriet Tubman, her role in the abolitionist movement, and the square celebrating her, visit tubmanboston.org.

Harriet Tubman photo - CBA

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