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City Commission To Vote On Renaming Park Bearing Florida Supreme Court Justice's Name

On Wednesday, Tallahassee’s City Commission will consider renaming one of its parks, after it was brought to light that the park’s namesake contributed to racist decisions on the state’s highest court.

Commissioner Curtis Richardson says he wants the park, Chapman Pond Park, to be named after someone more deserving than the late Supreme Court Justice Roy Chapman.

Chapman authored an opinion that upheld the wrongful incarceration of the Groveland Four – a group of young black men falsely accused of raping a white woman.

And, Richardson says, “(Chapman) also upheld a ruling on segregation in public facilities in Miami, which essentially prevented African Americans from using golf courses on days other than Monday. And back then, Monday was the day that golf courses, of course, were closed for repair and maintenance.”

The Commission will vote on whether to rename the park after educator and lifelong champion of civil rights, Dr. Charles Evans.

A Durham, North Carolina native who became a professor at Florida A&M University’s School of Business and Industry in 1982, Evans taught at FAMU for more than three decades, until 2013.

He was also head of the Tallahassee NAACP for 14 years, its second-longest tenured leader ever behind the Rev. C.K. Steele.

“He and his family were one of the first African American families to actually move into Myers Park,” Richardson, who knew Evans personally, said, “so this renaming is very appropriate – especially given the contributions that Dr. Evans made to the community.”

Evans died in August of 2013.

Richardson says the issue was brought to his attention by local historian Delaitre Hollinger, who is executive director of the National Association for the Preservation of African American History and Culture.

Hollinger says the effort to recognize Evans began last summer, and that he asked Commissioner Jeremy Matlow to bring the item to the board.