Grand Rapids first African American Mayor immortalized
Lyman Parks statue mlive.com
Patrick Center July 18, 2013 | WGVU “Three, two, one…”
More than 40 years after being elected Grand Rapids first, and so far only, African American mayor, a statuesque Lyman Parks returns, preserving the city’s history.
“Well, it’s a very dignified statue.”
Lyman Parks, Jr.
“Dad, to me, always had a very dignified way about himself and he always carried himself with optimism and looking toward that next goal. It’s a very relaxed pose which exemplifies his confidence.”
Sculptor Toby Mendez studied the former mayor and surrounded himself with the Parks family before casting the final mold.
“When you look at the sculpture you’re see that he’s holding a book and he stands as a leader. You know the book connects to education but it also connects to his history of being a minister and religion. We learn about legacy through books and through history and I’m very, very proud to be telling the story of Lyman Parks.”
It’s a story the founder of the Community Legends Project, Peter Secchia, tells.
“We had people who wanted to cause trouble in our city.”
Secchia was at Parks side when he brought the community together cooling racial tension.
“He was one of our heroes. Lyman was a wonderful man.”
Now, immortalized in bronze.
“How many African Americans in Grand Rapids have one? This is to us a very important and significant event.”
As Lyman Parks Jr. explains his father’s legacy is now visible to young African Americans.
“I think it gives them something to look up to as a symbol. It shows that things can happen if you work hard and have that prize in mind of what you need to do. It also shows that you have to work with people and you just can’t isolate yourself and relegate yourself to any one group but you have to show that you are a person that is willing to represent everyone.”
Lyman Parks was the mayor of Grand Rapids from 1971 to 1976. He served his community and God as a minister spanning more than five decades.
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