Jacksonville, Fla. –– June 12, 2023 –– Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park (FOJWJP), the nonprofit organization that manages the city’s oldest and most historic public park, today announced a month-long celebration in honor of the park’s namesake’s birthday. James Weldon Johnson, a poet, musician, diplomat and civil rights activist, well known for penning “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” commonly referred to as the Black National Anthem, was born in Jacksonville on June 17, 1871. The park will honor Johnson throughout the month of June through special programming and events, and service opportunities.
The park will host several service days in June to honor its namesake’s commitment to his community. Volunteers from eleven regional Lowe’s stores will come together to beautify the park on June 14, donating products and service hours to honor Johnson’s memory and celebrate Juneteenth. In addition, the Rotary Club of Jacksonville will host a second service day with general clean up and beautification on Johnson’s birthday, June 17. Volunteer opportunities are available to the public for both occasions.
FOJWJP will honor Johnson’s poetry by sharing one of his poem’s every day on the park’s blog through the week of his birthday. The birthday celebration will culminate in a jazz concert on June 18 as part of the Jazz Discovery Series, featuring world-renowned saxophonist, composer and arranger, Dayna Stevens. The show will include performances by The John Lumpkin Institute and Jacksonville Arts And Music School (JAMS) student Jazz performers. The concert will highlight the ragtime style that James Weldon Johnson and his brother, James Rosemond Johnson, enjoyed and championed throughout their careers.The concert is open to all and free to attend. Limited seating will be available, but concertgoers are encouraged to bring their own chairs. Food trucks will be on site providing concessions for purchase.
“We are proud to represent James Weldon Johnson’s legacy through our park year-round, but especially during this time of celebration to honor his birthday,” said Liz McCoy, Executive Director of Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park. “We are more than a park –– we are a living, breathing space where memories are made in this community, and we will continue to honor Johnson’s dedication to his poetry, his musical talents and his advocacy for representation today and always.”
Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park encourages the community to join them in celebrating its namesake's birthday and honoring his legacy this month and throughout the year through diverse programming and events. For more information about James Weldon Johnson Park, upcoming events, or how to get involved, visit jamesweldonjohnsonpark.org/.
About James Weldon Johnson Park
Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park is a nonprofit organization founded in 2014 and contracted with the City of Jacksonville to revitalize the city’s first and most historic public park. James Weldon Johnson Park is located in the heart of downtown Jacksonville, adjacent to City Hall, the main branch of the Jacksonville Public Library, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Our mission is to transform James Weldon Johnson Park into a modern, urban space that engages diverse communities and restores vitality to our city’s public square. We accomplish this by adding and maintaining landscaping and amenities and providing daily programming. Our park ambassadors and security welcome and share information with our guests while ensuring that James Weldon Johnson Park is clean and safe. Our programming is informed and supported by a variety of community partnerships.
Discover more at: www.JamesWeldonJohnsonPark.org and on our James Weldon Johnson Park social feeds.