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Looking back at Rochester park name change honoring MLK

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (Fox 47) -- As we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, a group in Rochester feels proud of its dedication for change that allowed the national hero to be locally recognized.

A year ago Tuesday, is the one year anniversary since the official renaming of Rochester's popular East Park: now Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

A community action group proposed the park name change in the fall of 2018 with the change approved that December.

Barbara Jordan, Rochester NAACP Secretary, said the community felt Rochester needed a monumental place to honor the civil rights activist.

"Unlike most cities, we really did not have public recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King. And for this park, which is in the center of our community to be renamed in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was quite significant to the community of color, and to the majority community," she said.

Jordan said the group wanted to include every important aspects of King's life in the name.

"We were quite particular that it not be MLK park or Dr. King Park. But that we really give honor to every aspect of Dr. King's life. The reverend, he was a man of faith. Doctor, he's a learning man with a Ph.D. Martin Luther King, which actually was not Dr. King's name. His father renamed him from Michael King to Martin Luther King, after visiting Germany and studying Martin Luther, and the reformation movement. So, every word in that name on the sign is important to us, as a community and as individuals," Jordan said.

The NAACP is planning to celebrate Juneteenth at the park this summer, for the first time since the name change. The celebration is part of Rochester Fest.

KaMaria Braye

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