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A Black History Month Event: Celebrating the Smith Park Legacy

Sojourner’s Truth Staff

“My grandfather’s vision was all about community,” said Amy Smith Hall, CEO of Ebony Construction, during a commemoration of her ancestor’s accomplishments on Tuesday, February 20 at the Mott Branch Library. “He was about bringing a sense of value about who we are to the community.”

Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz

Hall’s grandfather, William A. Smith, Jr., who passed away in 1967 after 20 years as executive director of the Frederick Douglas Community Association, was a revered figure in the Toledo African-American community. Smith Park was built and dedicated to his memory in 1974.

Last week’s celebration was organized by Sandria Brown on behalf of Lathrop Turner, the general contractor for the soon-to-be-constructed Mott Branch Library. The event was hosted by the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. The new Mott Branch will be constructed on the edge of the 13-acre Smith Park adjacent to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy for Boys. Along with the recently constructed Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union, the new Mott Branch Library represents a renaissance along the Dorr Street corridor.

The $8.2 million investment in the new branch will help revitalize Smith Park and will also bring in City of Toledo investment to renovate sections of the park.

Ty Boyd, Lathrop business development engineer, was one of the speakers on Tuesday and ensured the audience that “community engagement is one of the most important things we are going for.”

Also speaking at the event were Toledo City Councilman Tyrone Riley who presented a  City Resolution to Amy Hall commemorating her grandfather’s legacy, and Ray Wood, president of the NAACP. Riley and Wood both grew up in the Smith Park neighborhood and recounted tales of playing games and ball as kids in the area’s alleys and streets before Smith Park was completed in 1974. After that “it was a punishment not to be able to go to Smith Park,” said Riley.

Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz offered his insights from his research on William Smith, who died before the mayor was born. “We need to be sure that Smith Park honors the person it is names after,” he said while promising that the City would bring the park back to its past glory.

“My grandfather’s vision was all about community,” said Hall. “Who he was and what he stood for are still relevant today.”



Copyright © 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:10 -0700.

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