The realization that Rochester, a major city, unlike most major cities in America, does not have a street or public venue named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. prompted a community action group, which saw an opportunity to create a tangible reflection of MLK’s message of unity, to recommend renaming a neighborhood park in Rev. Dr. King’s name. The group chose East Park to recommend for renaming because it often serves as the site of community cultural events. "For many years, East Park has been the location in Rochester where many youth, including youth of color, gather to play basketball, meet friends, and socialize. Families have barbeques and family reunions in the summer,” said action group member Karen Edmonds, executive director of Project Legacy. “It has been known as a community gathering place for multi-generations. The renaming of this park to Martin Luther King Jr. Park would hold special meaning and significance for those who view this park as their own.” The group, called the MLK Community Action Group, comprised of representatives from 3rd District Public Defenders Office, Diversity Council, Fernbrook Family Center, Recovery is Happening, Sandra Means For Rochester Councilwoman, Minnesota Department of Human Services, and Project Legacy.
Project Legacy, a Rochester, MN nonprofit providing trauma-informed services to at-risk visible minority and immigrant youth ages 18-29, is a community partner for one of the 2019 Pilot Awards funded by OHDR. PI Tej Khalsa, MD, will lead the project, aimed at fostering community engagement, with Project Legacy. This community-based participatory research (CBPR) pilot will assist in reducing the disparate access of at-risk visible minority and immigrant youth to Mayo Clinic’s Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) program. The program has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and enhance resilience. The research will involve a trial investigating the SMART intervention in at-risk youth, specifically visible minority youth with low socioeconomic status and a history of trauma. It will also generate new knowledge on how to provide equitable and effective resiliency training to at-risk youth with a history of trauma.
Karen Edmonds, who leads ‘Project Legacy’ and was the one who originally suggested the name change for East Park, said she’s seen the excitement in the eyes of the youth she serves through Project Legacy, since the decision to rename the park was approved. The Project Legacy youth helped unveil a new sign for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Martin Luther King Day at the Civic Center on January 21st.