Railroad Park recently won the Urban Open Space award from the Urban Land Institute. It’s kind of a big deal. Downtown Birmingham has been depressed and beleaguered as long as I can remember. There has been a huge effort to bring people back downtown to work and live instead of to work and leave. This 19-acre green space is one of the big draws for downtown denizens. Activities are scheduled in the park daily throughout the year. It’s a great place to picnic, play, exercise, or meditate.
One of the main reasons people have been reluctant to move downtown is the historically high crime rate Birmingham has had, so the St. Patrick’s Day shooting is a huge step backward for the effort to revitalize the downtown area. But that’s not the real tragedy here.
Senseless gun violence and another child dead. Those are the tragedies. The great debate about gun control blazes on throughout our country, peppered by threats made by “gunners” that always end with “my cold, dead hands,” but from where I’m sitting, it seems like the only cold, dead hands we’re hearing about belong to little children. Something’s terribly wrong with that.
John Green, an author with strong Birmingham ties, wrote: “We all want to do something to mitigate the pain of loss or to turn grief into something positive, to find a silver lining in the clouds. But I believe there is real value in just standing there, being still, being sad.”
There’s something to that, but those who have visited Railroad Park will tell you: it’s awfully hard to be sad when you are there.
So the stalwart citizens of Birmingham are doing something a little different – committing to honor the park by gathering there to stand in support of nonviolence and in support of the park itself. There are at least two events scheduled at this writing. The first, Memorial March at Railroad Park, will be this Saturday, March 23rd at 7:00 p.m. Attendees with march around the park one time and then have a moment of silence in memory of Jarmaine.
The second event, The First Annual Magic City Family Reunion, will be held the following Saturday, March 30th, at 3:00 p.m. Those who gather this day will lock hands, united in their support of Birmingham’s continuing quest toward peace, love and understanding. After this symbolic event, organizers plan to have family-friendly activities and live music. With any luck, some of Birmingham’s amazing food truck vendors may show up!
BirmingMa’am will be out of town on the 23rd, but will definitely be at The First Annual Magic City Family Reunion on the 30th. Join her at Railroad Park, won’t you?