Jacksonville Turns 200: History of James Weldon Johnson Park

James Weldon Johnson Park has had many names.

In 1866, city founder Isaiah Hart’s estate sold the land for $10 to the City of Jacksonville. It was named City Park.


It was later renamed St. James Park after the St. James Hotel was built across the street in 1869.

In 1899, it was renamed Hemming Park after Civil War veteran Charles C. Hemming, who installed a 62-foot monument in the park.

The statue is one of the few things to survive the Great Fire of 1901.

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During the 1960 U.S. presidential campaign, both John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon gave campaign speeches in Hemming Park. Lyndon Johnson gave a speech there in 1960.

On June 9, 2020, the Confederate monument was removed. On August 11, 2020, the City Council changed the name of the park to James Weldon Johnson Park, honoring the native son who wrote the song “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” also known as the Black national anthem.

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