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James Weldon Johnson Park's renaming kicks off events celebrating Black history in Duval

James Weldon Johnson composed "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which became known as the Black national anthem.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — The beat of several drums echoed from the newly renamed James Weldon Johnson Park in downtown Jacksonville Saturday afternoon.

City council members renamed Hemming Park after Johnson last August. Saturday, organizers of the event said it was the park's official inauguration. 

The park was originally named after Civil War veteran, Charles Hemming, when he donated a Confederate monument to Jacksonville. The Confederate soldier statue that stood on top of the monument was removed last summer.

Organizers of Saturday's event, which included food music and dancing, called it Duval Legacies. It's the first of the series celebrating Black history in Duval, they said, starting with Johnson during Black History Month. Johnson composed "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which became known as the Black national anthem. 

“Liz and I came up with this idea to celebrate Jacksonville’s Black history and to show the beauty of our history, and that’s exactly why we created Duval Legacies," Yanira Cardona, owner of Yaya Productions said.

"It’s blending the history with entertainment and we want to show the history and celebrate the history with beautiful entertainment and also with a little bit of education in there too," Liz McCoy, Executive Director of Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park said. 

Local acts performed at the event. McCoy and Cardona said they hope to have a Duval Legacies event every month of 2021. The next event is Art in the Park on March 13.