From left to right: Parents Helen Louise Dillet and James Johnson, along with a young James Weldon and John Rosamond Johnson. (Yale University Library)
In 2015, the Durkeeville Historical Society and City of Jacksonville collaborated to dedicate the birth site of two native sons, James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson, as “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” Park. The park is named after the song written by the Johnson brothers, which has become known as the “Black national anthem”. On October 1, 2020, the City of Jacksonville hosted a press conference at The Jessie to publicly unveil a plan to redesign the site into a first class public space. Bringing in noted California-based landscape architect Walter Hood, known for landscapes that highlight the Black experience, the project is anticipated to cost $2 million to construct. Construction is expected to be completed by 2022.
Here’s a look at the plans.