JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The legacy of Jacksonville native James Weldon Johnson is getting national attention today on Juneteenth, but one council member wants to make the name a permanent fixture in the River City.
Councilman Garret Dennis is working to rename Hemming Park, James Weldon Johnson park. The resolution came about after the city of Jacksonville removed a Confederate statue gifted to the state of Florida by Jacksonville civil war veteran Charles Hemming.
Now that the Confederate Monument is gone, civil rights activists feel it is fitting for the name “Hemming” to also be removed for its ties to slavery and the Confederacy.
Activists are pushing James Weldon Johnson as the replacement and advocates may have found new energy supporting their cause as the Google homepage is featuring the man’s legacy and song “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Johnson’s song is considered by many to be the black national anthem.
The homepage of Google today commemorates the 155th anniversary of June 19 -- largely celebrated as the end of slavery in the US -- with a video Google Doodle.
Set to the first verse of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the video begins with General Order No. 3 -- the order Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger read to a group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865. It notified them that they were no longer enslaved.
Over the course of 90 seconds, the video displays various scenes of black people in both the past and present, doing things like hanging out at a park, voting, and getting married.
Created in collaboration with artist Loveis Wise, music producer Elijah Jamal and narrator LeVar Burton, the Doodle seeks to educate and inform a swath of people who may not have previously been familiar with this aspect of black life, Burton said.
A blend of the words June and nineteenth, Juneteenth is the oldest known US celebration of the end of slavery.