JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After weeks of debating, the Jacksonville City Council on Tuesday voted in favor of changing the name of Hemming Park to James Weldon Johnson Park.
It’s now named after a famous civil rights activist from Jacksonville who wrote “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” — a poem-turned-song commonly known as “The Black National Anthem.”
The vote to rename Hemming Park was 16-2. Danny Becton and Randy White were the opposed votes.
A Confederate memorial once stood in Hemming Park, which had been named after Civil War veteran Charles Hemming, who donated the memorial to the state of Florida in 1898. For weeks, Hemming Park has been in the spotlight after Councilman Garrett Dennis filed the legislation to rename the park after Johnson.
Recently, Councilman Danny Becton proposed an alternative name -- Veterans Memorial Park. The suggestion split council members, some of whom were reluctant to vote against the two ideas.
Calling the move a “sneak attack by a fellow council member,” Dennis filed additional legislation, suggesting renaming five other Jacksonville parks to honor veterans. After the motion to rename Hemming Park passed, Dennis moved to withdraw the motions aimed at renaming those parks.
The decision to rename Hemming Park came hours after City Council voted unanimously in favor of changing the name of Confederate Park to Springfield Park.