The National Civic League is excited to announce that it will be inducting two communities into the All-America City Hall of Fame in 2021. The Hall of Fame Award recognizes outstanding civic engagement initiatives in communities that have previously won the All-America City Award.
Acworth, Georgia originally won the All-America City Award in 2010 and is being recognized for its inclusive and equitable redevelopment of the Parkside District.
The City of Acworth, Georgia has a rich history, small-town feel, and a progressive approach to building community while preserving cultural integrity. From the early 1900’s, Acworth’s Parkside District was racially segregated. The Parkside District is home to two historically black churches as well as two schools that were established during segregation. As the city has grown and thrived, it has earmarked funding to build parks, a community center, new restaurants and businesses, an art center, a history museum, and homes in the Parkside District. In doing so, the city has provided funding to ensure that Black historical landmarks are preserved, and improvements have been made to the properties.
In accordance with the city’s comprehensive plan, which achieved broad consensus through outreach and resident engagement, the Parkside District was designated as an opportunity zone in 2010. The designation resulted in the stimulation of economic development and job creation by incentivizing long-term private investments in economically disadvantaged areas.
Parkside District investments and projects include:
Doyal Hill Park. The park was named for Mr. Doyal Hill, who was the first Black Alderman to serve on the Acworth City Council. In addition to beautiful greenspace, Doyal Hill Park has an outdoor interpretive history area featuring public art honoring Acworth’s rich Black history.
The park features a sculpture that was designed to embody the spirit of the Black community in Acworth. The steel figure is larger than life to represent the strength, power, and impact that a schoolteacher has in their students’ lives. The figure is holding a book, symbolic of education, and a globe to signify that anything is possible with a good education. The globe, the figure, and the book each include important words shared by members of the community during the design of the sculpture.
Acworth Community Center. The Community Center is the centerpiece of the Parkside District and is the home to many community programs, such as Expanding Horizons and the Acworth Achievers which benefit local students.
A conversation series is hosted at the Acworth Community Center. The goal of the series is to open direct lines of communication within the community and to increase transparency and trust between city leadership, the police department, and minority communities.
The center also houses athletic programming and team sports for children and adults with special needs, and extensive programs for senior citizens and at-risk school children.
Infrastructure Improvement. Community Development Block Grant Funding was used to renovate Roberts School, the Rosenwald School, and to develop the trail system at Logan Farm Park, which ties the Parkside District together and ensures the preservation of the historic beauty and greenspace.
Acworth Art House. The Art House was built in 1900 and was originally the home and business of one of the first Black business owners in Acworth. Over the years, the home fell into disrepair, but it was rehabilitated and is now the home to community art classes and displays of work by local artists.
Acworth Depot Park. The Depot features static and electronic displays that tell Acworth’s history. The displays have 19 professionally produced videos of Acworth’s history, more than 60 oral histories of long-time Acworth residents, and features hundreds of special and unique photographs of Acworth. Black History is Acworth history, and it is prominently displayed and interwoven throughout the various displays. The facility is open every day and is completely free to the public.
Investment in the Parkside District has resulted in many local impacts including the removal of substandard residential property and government housing and replacement with quality subsidized housing for low-income seniors. The surrounding development of new parks, trails, and businesses have resulted in the census track being changed from low to moderate income threshold. The preservation of local Black history landmarks and the expansion of public art has impacted the community by providing educational and cultural opportunities.