Breckenridge Texan

City commissioners, students agree on new name for renovated park: Booker T. Washington Park

City commissioners, students agree on new name for renovated park: Booker T. Washington Park
April 23
17:04 2021

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

The Breckenridge High School students who renovated a local park proposed a new name for the park, and the city commissioners agreed with their idea during a special meeting on Thursday, April 22. The park will now be known as Booker T. Washington Park.

Breckenridge High School student Kayla Wood visits with Freddie King after the city commissioners voted to change the name of the park in southeast Breckenridge to Booker T. Washington Park. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

The students, Kayla Wood, Thomas Hamilton and Caroline Turner, worked on the park as part of a project for the Texas Municipal Community Network’s Leadership program, which invites teams from area high schools to take on projects that will improve their communities. The group chose to work on the small park located on the southeast side of Breckenridge.

The park is located on East Powers Street between Dunnigan and Stoker avenues and is several blocks directly south of Miller Park, aka the Breckenridge City Park. It is located a couple of blocks from the location of the old Booker T. Washington School, where African American students attended school until the 1960s when the school was closed and the students transferred to the other schools in Breckenridge. The school was located at the corner of James Avenue and Cottage Street.

The park was originally created and maintained by members of Breckenridge’s African American community. In the 1960s, the park was obtained by the City of Breckenridge.

Although detailed records are scarce, according to those who researched the park, it was named Breckenridge Park. It includes playground equipment, a covered barbecue area, benches, a baseball field and lots of space where children can play.

On Thursday night, the students proposed the new name and requested to place a marker in the park with the following wording:

Booker T. Washington Park

This park was owned by C.M. Knox, and maintained by the citizens of this neighborhood. In 1961, the City of Breckenridge took over the park. The 2020 High School TMCN group made improvements to the park to update it and make it a safer place for younger children. This group of young people wanted to keep the history of the park alive. They decided they wanted to name the park to honor and bring recognition to the many individuals who spent many hours using and maintaining the park. For this reason, in April 2021, the park was officially renamed.

Kayla Wood, who spoke to the Breckenridge City Commissioners on behalf of the student group, said that the name “Booker T. Washington Park” is in line with what and who they wanted to honor and recognize.

“The reason we chose Booker T. Washington is because he was one of the most influential spokesmen for Black Americans between 1895 and 1915,” she said. “He was an educator and reformer, and he became a noted writer and perhaps one of the most prominent African American leaders for his time. For this reason, we’d like to name the park Booker T. Washington Park.”

Breckenridge City Commissioner Rob Durham, who was serving in his capacity as Mayor Pro Tem since Mayor Bob Sims was absent, said that the suggested name for the park is fine with him but that he wanted the students’ names added to the plaque, along with the rest of the wording they had proposed.

“I just want to make sure the students involved with this get their just due,” Durham said, turning to address Kayla. “Because what you guys have done…you guys took on something that no one else thought of; you thought outside the box. And so I think y’all should be commended for that.”

Before they voted on the proposal, the commissioners heard from Freddie King, a former Booker T. Washington School student. Her husband and children also attended the school.

“I’m just very proud of the name,” she said, adding that she had also talked to Marie McCree Orman, another former Booker T. Washington School student and teacher. “She said, ‘Oh, Freddie, that just makes me proud because it carries our school name on it.'”

The park on East Powers Street in southeast Breckenridge was re-named Booker T. Washington Park on Thursday night by the city commissioners. The park was the focus of a community improvement project by a group of Breckenridge High School students this year. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Kayla Wood presents the suggested name of Booker T. Washington Park for the park in southeast Breckenridge that she and two other students, Thomas Hamilton and Caroline Turner, worked on as part of a community leadership project. The commissioners approved the name change and the placement of a marker detailing some of the park’s history. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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