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From Columbus artist Aminah Robinson to children's author Dr. Seuss, the words of both local and national social justice-minded people have become immortalized along a walkway at the Washington Gladden Social Justice Park.

The Rev. Tim Ahrens, senior minister at First Congregational Church Downtown, speaks at the Washington Gladden Social Justice Park during a ceremony to dedicate walkway stones on Sunday. © Nicolas Galindo/The Columbus Dispatch The Rev. Tim Ahrens, senior minister at First Congregational Church Downtown, speaks at the Washington Gladden Social Justice Park during a ceremony to dedicate walkway stones on Sunday.

Over the course of three years, the park's "Pathway of Justice" along the corner of East Broad Street and Cleveland Avenue in Columbus' Discovery District has come to house 37 stones bearing notable quotations from equally notable figures.

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And for the first time since the space opened in October 2018 as what organizers believe was the nation’s first park dedicated to the theme of social justice, Columbus' civic and religious leaders gathered Sunday afternoon to dedicate those inspirational markers.

A crowd of about 100 found refuge from the rain under tents and their own umbrellas as the Rev. Tim Ahrens, senior minister at First Congregational Church Downtown, led the proceedings.

He was joined by the likes of Franklin County Commissioner Erica Crawley, who said, "This isn't a big park by acreage, but it still occupies a big space by its own right. I love how this park offers an entire community ... a place to learn and reflect."

At a cost of $3.7 million, the park opened three years ago with the intent to serve as a catalyst for community action on social justice issues. The space is built on land owned by First Congregational Church across the street, and it is the result of a public-private partnership.

More about the park's opening: Mural at new park honors Columbus’ social-justice pioneers

A walkway stone bearing Arabic writing and an English translation waits to be placed vertically in accordance with Islamic traditions at Washington Gladden Social Justice Park. © Nicolas Galindo/The Columbus Dispatch A walkway stone bearing Arabic writing and an English translation waits to be placed vertically in accordance with Islamic traditions at Washington Gladden Social Justice Park.

Among the park's features is a a temporary mural telling the stories of local public figures who were driven to make positive change, including the park's namesake, the Rev. Washington Gladden, a civil rights activist and former pastor at First Congregational Church.

The Pathway of Justice is composed of blue stones etched with phrases that together form a pattern based on a modified Morse code that, when solved, itself bears a social justice message.

One of the most recent stones to be added to the path is in honor of Marian Wright Edelman, a civil rights activist and the founder of the nonprofit Children’s Defense Fund, which is focused on child advocacy and research.

Theodore Decker: Columbus’ new Washington Gladden park is also a call to action

Funded by the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, Edelman's stone features the quote: “The future which we hold in trust for our own children will be shaped by our fairness to other people's children.”

Speaking before the crowd, Tracy Nájera, executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, said her organization proudly carries on the mission pioneered by Edelman, who at 82 years old is president emerita of the national organization.

"So many things have changed for the better, but there is still so much work left unfinished," Nájera said. "We must mend the fractures and divisiveness we're experiencing as a nation, and we must also recognize that our children are watching and listening."

Recent coverage: Social Justice park sculpture intended to inspire unity, social change

Edelman joins a multitude of social justice pioneers from Columbus and across the nation whose lives and achievements are memorialized at the park. These include the Rev. James Poindexter, a politician and civil rights activist who became the first African-American on the Columbus City Council; the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Martin Luther King, Jr.; and Robinson.

As of this weekend, that list also includes famed Ohio State Buckeyes running back Archie Griffin.

Griffin was on hand to dedicate a stone to William "Bill" Willis Sr., a former Ohio State player recognized as one of the first African-Americans to play football in the modern era.

"We sell his legacy short if we only remember his dazzling athletic talent," Griffin said. "Bill was a guiding force far so many young people."

However, it was a surprise to Griffin when he learned at the ceremony that the Ohio State University Alumni Association, of which Griffin is a former president and CEO, had banded together with the university's athletic department to purchase a stone in his honor.

"Archie, what you said about Bill is true of you," Ahrens told Griffin. "You have inspired generations of people to be better and do better."

Ahrens emphasized that the park's pathway is still growing; the walkway has room for a total of 60 stone placements, meaning 23 more quotes can be added near Griffin's:

"In the face of adversity, you find out if you're a fighter or a quitter. It's all about getting up after you've been knocked down."

Former Ohio State football players Archie Griffin and William "Bill" Willis Sr. have been honored with walkway stones at Washington Gladden Social Justice Park. © Nicolas Galindo/The Columbus Dispatch Former Ohio State football players Archie Griffin and William "Bill" Willis Sr. have been honored with walkway stones at Washington Gladden Social Justice Park.

Eric Lagatta is a reporter at the Columbus Dispatch covering public safety, breaking news and social justice issues. Reach him at elagatta@dispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter @EricLagatta

elagatta@dispatch.com

@EricLagatta

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus leaders dedicate stones etched with quotes lining Gladden Park's Pathway of Justice

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/columbus-leaders-dedicate-stones-etched-with-quotes-lining-gladden-parks-pathway-of-justice/ar-AAPTZFK

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