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Unity Park meeting scheduled at annex

February 2, 2013

By CARL SMITH
news@starkvilledailynews.com

Discussions on possible landmarks honoring local civil rights at Unity Park will continue today at the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex.
Today’s meeting is the second such gathering in the past week. It will be held at 3:30 p.m. and moderated by District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams.

Last week, about 15 concerned county citizens attended the first Unity Park discussion. A consensus was reached by the public to open the park as soon as possible — five of seven plaques honoring national figures and commemorating local civil rights events remain covered by tarps since the park’s construction — and install two new plaques featuring equality advocates from Oktibbeha County. The attendees also agreed the county should form a public committee charged with possible monument nominations and additions in the future.

No official board action was taken Saturday, but Williams said he hopes to present a finalized plan for Unity Park to supervisors at their 9 a.m. Monday meeting.

Dorothy Bishop, the first female Oktibbeha County NAACP president, suggested Saturday that the county place two separate plaques — one each for men and women who fought for locally equality — where two blank monuments now stand. The crowd came to a consensus last week to honor her, Viola Johnson, Rosa Stewart, Douglas Conner, Morris Kinsey and Henry Isaac.
Monuments at Unity Park were erected when the almost-$2 million Oktibbeha County Education Building was completed in 2011. The outdoor green space is located between Mugshots and the education building.

“Mrs. Bishop initiated much of the process of why we’re here today,” Williams said during the first Unity Park discussion. “We are proud of the work Pryor Morrow (the architect for Unity Park and the education building) did, but we need closure for this situation. There were brave and courageous African Americans who fought for equality and civil rights in Oktibbeha County but were never recognized. We would like to lay hold to that movement.”

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