King Park celebration scheduled Sunday

  • Article by: RANDY FURST , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 21, 2011 - 9:01 PM

Event will kick off plans for enhancements following fractious debate over dogs.

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Minneapolis Park and Recreation board has allocated $32,500 to refurbish King Park. More is proposed.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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A celebration scheduled Sunday at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in south Minneapolis is not only a rededication of a monument to the slain civil rights leader. It's also an effort to bring black and white citizens together after a rift over a proposed off-leash dog run at the park.

The event will also mark the dedication Sunday of the King National Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, at which President Obama is scheduled to speak.

The local event is sponsored by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the King Legacy Council, which the board helped set up. In February, the park board removed King Park from consideration for a dog run after many blacks said it was disrespectful to King's memory.

"We see this [event] as the beginning -- to rejuvenate and create the park in the image of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King," said Mary Merrill Anderson, the city's former park superintendent who was assigned by the park board to facilitate the Legacy Council's work.

"The dog park issue exposed a big rift between the African American community and the European or white Americans," she said. "When we talked to each other, there was clearly a lack of understanding of the historical record."

Other sites are now under consideration for a dog park.

Sunday's gathering will rededicate a sculpture called Freedom Form #2, honoring King, installed in 1970. It is being moved to a more prominent position in the park. Daniel Johnson, the sculptor, is one of the speakers at the event.

The park board has allocated $32,500 for park refurbishment. The Legacy Advisory Council is proposing to raise $1.6 million for park enhancements that could include an outdoor amphitheater and historical interpretive markers.

The event will feature music and refreshments and runs from 2 to 5 p.m. with the rededication at 2:45 p.m. Parking will be available at McKnight Early Childhood Center at 4225 3rd Av. S., where shuttle buses will take participants to the park.

Randy Furst • 612-673-4224

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