Benton Harbor renames park to June Woods Memorial Park in ribbon cutting ceremony
BENTON HARBOR, Mich.- Neighbors Organizing Against Racism, Whirlpool Corporation and the city of Benton Harbor collaborated for the new June Woods Memorial Park that features repaired playground equipment, repaved basketball courts, walking trails and bike racks.
“My only ask is that we maintain and that we honor the investment that has been done to this park today,” Mayor of Benton Harbor, Marcus Mohammed said.
The new name honors June Woods, an African American who escaped slavery during the civil war and went on to become a small business owner in Benton Harbor. He was known for planting trees in the city and throughout Southwest Michigan.
The assistant principal of Benton Harbor High School Danny Jennings grew up across the street from the park. He says seeing it transform into a vibrant and inviting community means the world to him.
“This right here brings everything full circle. It makes it all worth it. I'm so grateful for the people who put this together. I'm going to love this park the same way I loved it in 1976,” Assistant Principal Danny Jennings.
Neighbors Organizing Against Racism, Executive Director Trenton Bowens says Woods's legacy embodies the spirit and hope of Benton Harbor.
“The people of Benton Harbor one thing about them their spirit and determination. They’re fighters, they’re tigers. And when you find out the story about June Woods and who he was, he fought in the Civil War. His master died in the Civil War and escaped. He had the same spirit of the Benton Harbor people: a fighter and determination,” Bowens said.
Bowens says the organization will also be publishing 1,000 books and giving them to local schools so they can know the history of Woods.