Silver Springs, Springfield’s only public park open to black residents during segregation, was established in 1918 on land owned by Springfield school superintendent Jonathan Fairbanks, who had died the previous year. The night before Easter 1906, Fairbanks opened his home to black residents frightened by the lynching of three black men – Will Allen, Fred Coker and Horace Duncan – on Park Central Square. A memorial honoring the three men will be incorporated into the heritage trail.
The Park Day Reunion dates back to 1952 when Gerald Brooks, a parks supervisor and a teacher at Springfield’s former Lincoln School, and Robert Wendell Duncan, also a park supervisor, started a day of games and sports events for young African-American residents at Silver Springs. Park Days includes a parade, beauty pageant, concerts and a picnic, and provided the backdrop for the 1998 film “Park Day,” by director Sterling Macer, Jr., who grew up here.
“One of the goals of the whole project is to promote healing and appreciation for the African American community’s past and present,” said Springfield Mayor Ken McClure, in his 2018 State of the City address. “… We are making great strides forward in diversity and inclusion but we have a long ways to go.”