Savor Black Minnesota history: 12 notable landmarks

Paige Elliott/MSR News Edmund Pettus Bridge replica, part of the playground at MLK Park located at 4055 Nicollet Avenue South in Minneapolis

 A playful space to learn Black history

Community members got their first taste of an interactive playground centered around the Civil Rights Movement and African American history on Saturday, August 22, 2015, at MLK Jr. Park in South Minneapolis. 

A collaboration between the Legacy Council, Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and community members, the playground was the latest in the restorative efforts for the South Minneapolis park following the August 2014 moving of the Freedom Form II, a sculpture donated by New York artist Daniel LaRue Johnson.

Among the features for the kids to explore: a climbable mountain top and replica of the Edmund Pettus Bridge; an educational book staircase that pays tribute to the struggle for equal education; a flag from the Red Hand Division WWI African American regiment; a train and refrigeration truck honoring Minnesota’s Frederick McKinley Jones, inventor of the refrigerator and air-conditioning technologies; and QR (quick response) codes with links to take visitors to an African American Registry website for more information.

At the launch of the park, local historian Professor Mahmoud El-Kati said he was especially impressed by the tenacity of the Legacy Council. “The people who organized this need to be commended,” said El-Kati. “They redesigned the park, and not only that, they did the work and set an example for other people to follow across the country.”

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