Park recognizing societal struggles starts construction

By Caroline Favret, ’18

On March 27, shortly after a wave of nationwide marches, a park dedicated to social justice broke ground in downtown Columbus. This park is the first of its kind and will be located at Broad St. and Cleveland Ave.

It will be named after Rev. Dr. Washington Gladden, a prominent Columbus minister, politician and reformer who was part of the Social Gospel movement in the late 1800s.   

He advocated for workers rights, voting rights, school integration and the needs of those marginalized by society, even serving on city council from 1900 to 1902.

“Because of Gladden and Poindexter, 74 years before Brown vs. the Board of Education, our schools in Columbus were integrated,” said Rev. Dr. Tim Ahrens, senior minister of First Congregational Church in an interview with 10TV News.

The park is planned to be 18,000 square feet, next to sponsor First Congregational United Church of Christ. It’s intended to represent a peaceful, safe place for city residents as well as a spark for discussion about the struggles the nation and city still face.

“Division by race or class or gender or whether we are immigrants or indigenous, all are welcome in this place,” said Rev. Dr. Renee Wormack-Keels, Executive Director of The Spirituality Network.

A 100-yard long banner on Broad Street marks the park, which is planned to open in August 2018.  It will feature paths and ponds, in addition to a large-scale art project. Eventually, programs for the surrounding community will be held after its planned opening in August 2018.