It is a significant landmark in the city of Newport News, Virginia, and serves as a beacon of hope and resilience for the African American community in the surrounding area. King-Lincoln Park is located there. The park was named in honor of two great civil rights leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Abraham Lincoln, and it stands as a testament to the legacies of freedom and equality that both of these men left behind.
King-Lincoln Park is 6.7 acres large, and it is situated in the middle of the Southeast Community in Newport News. This park offers a variety of amenities for people of all ages to enjoy when they come to the park. The park is equipped with a stage that can be used for outdoor performances and events, as well as a basketball court, a playground, a walking track, and picnic areas. In addition, the park is home to two iconic sculptures: “The Dream,” a bronze statue of Dr. King created by artist Antonio Tobias Mendez of Hampton, and “The Emancipation Oak,” a sculpture of President Lincoln created by Richard Hollant of Newport News.
But even beyond the recreational and cultural opportunities it provides, King-Lincoln Park has a unique and significant place in the hearts of the people who live in the Southeast Community. The park has a long and eventful history that is inextricably linked to the triumphs and tribulations experienced by the African American community in Newport News.
In the early decades of the 20th century, the Southeast Community was a predominantly African American neighborhood; however, as a result of the city’s Jim Crow laws, the neighborhood was subject to neglect and segregation. The use of public facilities and services, such as parks, was restricted to white residents only and was inaccessible to black residents. Parks were among the restricted public spaces. This disparity sparked a movement for civil rights and equal access, which was led by community leaders such as Rev. W. W. Finlator and Rev. Lawrence Henry, who fought for the creation of a park for the Southeast Community. This park would have served as a gathering place for the community.
Their efforts bore fruit in 1945, when King-Lincoln Park in Newport News became the first public park in the city that was designated specifically for African Americans. The park quickly became the center of attention for gatherings and parties that were held in the community. It played host to concerts, picnics, and sporting events. The civil rights movement gained steam in the 1950s and 1960s, which coincided with an increase in the number of African Americans who demanded equal rights and access to public spaces. As a result, the park’s popularity increased throughout those decades.
Throughout this time period, King-Lincoln Park was an important location in the fight for civil rights in Newport News. In 1960, a historic demonstration against segregation in the city drew more than 2,000 people to the park for the purpose of holding a rally or march. The park served as the location for these events. From King-Lincoln Park, the marchers, led by Rev. Henry, made their way to City Hall, where they demanded an end to segregation and discrimination in housing, education, and employment. The march began at King-Lincoln Park.
The demonstration served as a watershed moment in the struggle for civil rights in Newport News, and it motivated other influential members of the community to take action. In the subsequent few years, the city started to integrate its public facilities, including parks, and King-Lincoln Park became a symbol of progress and hope for the Southeast Community. King-Lincoln Park is located in Southeast Community.
Today, King-Lincoln Park continues to serve as an important resource for the community by providing a place that is secure and friendly for people of all walks of life to congregate and celebrate their common history and culture. The park plays host to a number of events throughout the year, one of which is the yearly Southeast Community Day, which is geared toward families and children and includes activities such as live music, food, and games.