Commissioners looking into changing Chapman Pond name

Chapman Pond in the Myers Park neighborhood of Tallahassee could soon have a new name, thanks to a push by multiple City Commissioners.
Published: Jun. 28, 2020 at 3:09 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Chapman Pond in the Myers Park neighborhood of Tallahassee could soon have a new name, thanks to a push by multiple City Commissioners. Members of the community have expressed concern over the Florida Supreme Court Justice Roy Harrison Chapman’s rulings upholding segregation in the 1950s.

Chapman Pond is in the Myers Park neighborhood.

“What we learned was, Chapman Pond was named after a former Supreme Court justice who upheld a lot of segregationist policies; he upheld the decision of the Groveland Four which we recently saw a pardon of, just last year,” said City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow.

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey and City Commissioner Curtis Richardson have also been working on the possible renaming with Tallahassee Parks & Recreation; the item may be on the agenda at the July 8 City Commission meeting.

According to "The Miami Times and the Fight for Equality: Race, Sport, and the Black Press", Justice Chapman heard the Rice v. Arnold case in 1950.

He ultimately upheld a lower court’s decision to only allow Black golfers to use the Miami Springs Golf Course one day a week, keeping the course segregated and allowing white members to use it during the other six days.

Commissioner Matlow questioned whether Tallahassee landmarks should be named after those who fell on the wrong side of history.

"Symbolically, it would make a huge difference if we removed this name and swapped it out for another," said Matlow.

The other name on the table is that of Dr. Charles Evans, who passed away in 2013.

He moved to Tallahassee in 1982.

Evans' wife Connie says they always enjoyed what they called the "duck pond." She learned about its namesake about two years ago.

"It's not unheard of," she said. "Here is where the slaves washed the clothes. So yeah, I mean it just sends chills over you."

Connie loves the idea of naming the pond after her husband.

“I’m just ecstatic! My husband was a good fellow, he was everybody’s friend!” she said.

Dr. Evans was a professor at FAMU and a past President of the Tallahassee branch of the NAACP.

“He was instrumental in helping to get our first African American city manager, our African American Chief of Police. None of that existed,” said Connie. “And he also attacked the system in terms of how many minorities were employed. And he made organizations accountable, state organizations.”

The name change has community support.

“We were contacted by a local historian who’s also a former president of the NAACP. He sent us an e-mail explaining this; he had a lot of people supporting it. And we were there to learn,” said Matlow. “Ramon Alexander has signed on, FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson, Ben Crump, NAACP President Adner Marcellin. There’s a real collective of people supporting this saying Charles Evans is who this should be named after.”

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