The renaming of a local park sparks a heated debate between residents, leaving a community divided.
The former Hobo Jungle Park renamed to honor local Civil Rights Activist Ermer Dansby Pondexter leaves many residents disheartened.”It will always be Hobo Jungle to me. Always, that’s what I’ll always call it. That’s what its always been,” JoAnn Gilfillian, resident.
Gilfillian’s family has lived a block away from the park for more than 75 years.”I’ve brought my kids here to the park, my grandkids here to the park and it will always be Hobo Jungle,” said Gilfillian.
City officials say the park was originally named after hobos who traveled through the area. Many residents believe the park erases a part of its past.”This used to be all wooded area and the hobos used to get off the train and they would hide out in this area,”said Gilfillian.
However there are many people who feel like this name change is just what the community needs.”We believe that the new name is going to inspire greatness in the youth of our community when they begin to learn who miss Pondexter is,” said David Watkins, resident.
Pondexter is a civil rights activist in the 60’s she worked to end segregation in Texarkana.”If people do not forge a plan to move forward into the future. Texarkana will continue to be stuck in the past it will lose its youngest, its best, its brightest to other communities,” said Watkins.
Pondexter remains active in the community. She recently organized a fan drive for the elderly and registered 300 people to vote in Texarkana.