Gillam Park

From FranaWiki

Gillam Park is a park in the Granite Mountain neighborhood located south of Interstate 440 on the southeastern edge of Little Rock, Arkansas. The park is named for Reconstruction-era politician Isaac T. Gillam Sr.

The 375-acre park was purchased in November 1934 as a recreational facility for black residents and campground for transient populations during the period of Jim Crow racial segregation laws. At the time of the purchase of Gillam Park the city had six public parks for white residents and none for black residents. A few black private parks existed, including Crump Park at the corner of State and 33rd streets which was reserved for black baseball games.

Works Progress Administration work on the site began in 1940, but efforts to clear the area for a road and ball field were stopped the next year as some city council members reconsidered the location of a park so distant from black neighborhoods.

Little Rock voters passed, by a 2,936 to 2,812 margin, a formal $359,000 revenue bond to improve the park for black recreation on February 1, 1949. The revenue bond was used as a partial match under the Housing Act of 1949, which brought the city $9.6 million in federal grants in the early 1950s. In August 1950 a swimming pool opened in Gillam Park. The pool came under immediate criticism for being twenty years too late and expressing an outmoded ideal of "second class citizenship" for African Americans. More criticism was heaped on the pool when in July 1954 a young boy drowned in the pool.


John A. Kirk, "'A Study in Second-Class Citizenship': Race, Urban Development and Little Rock's Gillam Park, 1934-2004," Arkansas Historical Quarterly 64.3 (Autumn 2005): 262-286.

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