Black lives celebrated: Restoring recognition
For the 100th anniversary of Seger Park, Cloud Gehshan was commissioned to design an interpretive sign for this popular Philly park. Neighbors will be surprised to learn that the park is actually not Seger Park. It is Mitchell Park, officially renamed in 1976 after Charles Mitchell, one of the recreation department’s first Black supervisors. Seger was a White politician who was an early supporter of the park, which is located in what was a historically Black area. Later, after renaming the park for Mitchell, Seger’s name was used for the site’s rec center as a compromise. The new sign seeks to restore the recognition due to Mitchell and instill community pride in his legacy.
The sign also touches on the stories of Fanny Coppin Jackson, an exceptional Black educator with many “firsts” to her name, for whom the original rec center was named, and Phyllis Wheatley, a former slave and celebrated poet, who was also considered for that honor.
Special thanks to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation for carefully researching the details of this story. For more on the history of the park, read here.
Philadelphia Parks and Recreation