The Fort Worth Park and Recreation Advisory Board met Wednesday and unanimously agreed to re-brand a local park named for Jefferson Davis, the president of the short-lived Confederate States of America, to “Parque Unidad, Unity Park.”
Only last Friday, the Dallas Park Board voted to strip Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s moniker from the park which bore his name. It will temporarily revert back to a previous nomenclature, Oak Lawn Park, until Dallas determines a new name. As Breitbart Texas reported, this followed the controversial decision city officials made to remove Lee’s bronze likeness from public grounds with little input from taxpayers.
In Fort Worth, however, an online petition started by Emily Farris, a Texas Christian University (TCU) assistant professor of political science, reportedly sparked the effort to erase Confederate history from within the city limits. To date, the petition garnered more than 5,800 signatures of its 7,500 goal.
Link to the petition I started after Charlottesville to change the name, which 5800 people signed: https://t.co/AxsmHxbAy1
— Emily Farris (@emayfarris) September 27, 2017
In her appeal, Farris argued that Fort Worth had no historical connection with the Confederate president. “Jefferson Davis Park was purchased in 1923, at the height of the Ku Klux Klan revival in Fort Worth,” she wrote. “The park, and many other memorials and monuments across the country, were part of a revisionary myth of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy and an effort to preserve white supremacy.”
The petition proposed renaming the park with something keeping within the “diverse demographics of the park’s surrounding neighborhood and our city.” The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the 8.6 acre park is located in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. It houses a playground, soccer fields, and a trail.
While Farris insisted the renaming process “should be the result of community input,” she also called upon the Fort Worth City Council and Mayor Betsy Price to change the park’s name.
Community member Jeanette Martinez recommended the board honor Fort Worth native, U.S. Navy veteran, and fallen Dallas policeman Patrick Zamarripa, one of the five officers slain in the July 2016 police ambush by lone gunman Micah X. Johnson at the end of an otherwise orderly Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Dallas. Zamarripa’s mother, Valerie, lives nearby and attended the meeting.
Others suggested locals Richard Salinas, a founder of the city’s yearly September 16 Mexican Independence Day parade, and Jimmie Pete Zepeda, one of the creators of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the first Hispanic elected to the Tarrant County College board, according to the Star-Telegram. They also suggested Zepeda’s wife, Juanita. Previously, she served on the park board.
However, the park and recreation board tossed out all of the suggestions, citing a policy established in the 1980’s which requires that people make a significant contribution to a park for it to be named after them. Instead, these advisors decided upon “Parque Unidad, Unity Park,” according to Fox 4 Dallas.
Rules dictate that the board holds 60 days of public input, but park and recreation officials do not want to wait that long to change the park’s name. Fort Worth city representatives say the board could suspend a rule to expedite the process.
Meanwhile, in Dallas, the Mayor’s Task Force on Confederate Monuments will present final recommendations to the city council on the fate of the Lee statue, street names, plus other Confederate monuments and artifacts on October 4. An online petition seeks to rename Lee Park for singer Erykah Badu, born and raised in Dallas as Erica Abi Wright.
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