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Group plans civil rights park in Rochester

Plans are underway to create civil rights park in Rochester and establish a fund to erase disparities in income, employment, and housing in the Black community.

The Spiritus Christi Anti-Racism Coalition  (SPARC) is working on both projects in collaboration with the city of Rochester, Colgate Rochester Divinity School, Rochester Area Community Foundation, Coalition of NorthEast Associations, and several Black pastors.

The coalition is a group of parishoners, community activists, youth, and concerned citizens.

Spiritus Christi pastor, Reverend Myra Brown, says they will have conversations with community members before they decide how a Black community focus fund will work.

"They might decide to create scholarships to send Black children to school to become doctors or nurses or astronauts,” she said. “They might decide to create a state-of-the-art nursing home for elders of color. They might decide to support businesses in the community so they can hire and address employment disparities in their community."

Brown said the fund will be created with donations from community members.

The civil rights park will be located in a portion of Baden Park on Upper Falls Boulevard. The concept was inspired by a trip members of the coalition took last year to Birmingham, Alabama and several other places important to the civil rights movement.

They want to pay tribute to the work of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and others

"They're all on paper or on some document or some book or in some scholarly writing,” Brown said. “We thought we have to get those stories off the paper and into a park so that we can talk about them and we can learn from them."

SPARC has chosen architect Malinda Gaskamp to design the park.

A community celebration and fundraiser featuring entertainment and $5 meals is scheduled on September 8 from noon to 6 p.m.