The Buffalo Soldiers, an all-black regiment in the United States Army, have a long heritage of service beginning in the Civil War. Today, a group from Detroit wants to create a permanent memorial site in the city and have launched a Patronicity crowdfunding campaign to support the effort.
The Buffalo Soldier Memorial Park would be located on Schoolcraft Street on the southern edge of Grandmont-Rosedale. The 27,000-square-foot park would have an event shelter with handicap access, a kids playscape, BBQ pit, landscaping, and solar panels.
The crowdfunding campaign ends on July 17 and has a $50,000 fundraising goal. It’s part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative, which will provide a $50,000 matching grant if the campaign reaches its goal.
Funds will go towards building out the park, as well as upgrading the horseshoe pitching courts and removing asphalt patches.
Some light activation has already been taking place at the site, including events for Armed Forces Day, Mother’s Day, and Halloween. The park will be operated by the Urban Neighborhood Development Organization and host programming that “celebrates and educates the community about the history of military service” of African Americans.
The group’s founder, Maurice Jones, is a military veteran who primarily wants the park to be a place for youth. He said his neighborhood has a “park deficit,” and that space and how it’s activated can a be positive outlet for local kids.
“I’ve got a couple of grandsons and this is for them,” Jones says. “That’s what I’m passionate about.”
He also plans on expanding a program he started, the Buffalo Soldiers Recycling Rangers, which teaches youth about the value of environmental stewardship and economic responsibility through recycling.