A rededication ceremony will soon take place at Dr. David Morris Park in Bayonne at 47th Street and Broadway, Mayor James Davis has announced. The event will take place on Thursday, October 27 at 6 p.m.
The ceremony will include speakers from the New Jersey National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the United States Attorney’s Office for New Jersey, Lincoln University, RWJBarnabas Health, Bayonne Youth Center President Angelique Jackson-Belle, and Lisa Glover, a member of the Bayonne Branch of the NAACP.
Musical selections will be performed by the Bayonne Interfaith Choir and musician Dave “Doc” Watson, a former Trustee of the Bayonne Board of Education. Rev. Dorothy Patterson of the Wallace Temple AME Zion Church will offer prayers.
‘Soft opening’ held in May
Earlier this year, renovations were completed at the park and a “soft opening” was held. The park upgrades were part of open space requirements for redeveloper The L Group, who constructed the mixed-use commercial and residential building next door at 957 Broadway known as BayOne.
The upgrades, which started in 2021, saw the park remain passive, after residents sought to prevent it from becoming an active park with a jungle gym and multi-tiered water feature. As part of the renovations, concrete and uneven pavers that lined the ground of the park were replaced with new bricks, and benches, fixed tables and chairs, and a sprinkler-like fountain were installed, along with light fixtures, a drinking fountain, and a flag pole.
A former used car lot, the previously unassuming park opened in 1980, one year after Morris retired. The open space was meant to celebrate his 52 years of service and his accomplishments, especially as a member and president of the Bayonne Branch of the NAACP.
Born in Florida, Morris attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania before completing his medical studies at the University of Vermont. He interned in St. Louis, Missouri and eventually moved to Bayonne in 1926.
A lifetime of service in Bayonne
That year, he began his medical practice in Bayonne. During the 1930s, Morris taught health classes to residents and helped establish the Bayonne Youth Center.
Morris has been credited with working to desegregate Bayonne theaters, restaurants, and other places of business, and was instrumental in helping members of the African American community complete their educations and find jobs. He sometimes gave his own money to help others.
During the early days of the Bayonne Boys Club, Morris often paid the rent on the building. He was also President of the Medical Staff at Bayonne Medical Center.
The “soft opening” for the park occurred in May before the official rededication to allow residents access to the open space as the weather improved, Davis said. Now officials are set to celebrate Morris’ life and formally rededicate the park later this month.
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