Work is nearly done on Cumberland’s Luther P. Jackson Park

Published 1:46 am Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Work on Luther P. Jackson Park is almost complete. Cumberland County Administrator Derek Stamey said there’s just a few finishing touches left to complete. 

“The Luther P. Jackson parking lot has been completed,” Stamey told Cumberland supervisors during their Tuesday, Jan. 16 meeting. “The paving, the striping and all of the lighting work has been completed there. We’ve got some finishing touches to do with the grading work around the parking lot and some of the park itself,” he added. 

As a reminder, Luther P. Jackson Park is one of three that county staff have worked on over the last year. The other two are Hamilton Park, located at 43 Samuels Drive in Cartersville and Randolph Park, at 2632 Cumberland Road. Funding for these three parks came from a $250,000 donation from Green Ridge Recycling, with additional expenses of approximately $250,000 minimized through grants, donations, in-house design and construction completed by Cumberland County staff. 

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But while the other two parks had ribbon cuttings back in October 2023, the Luther P. Jackson facility wasn’t quite ready yet. Located at 187 Anderson Highway in Cumberland, work was at a point in December where county staff planned to hold a ribbon cutting, but weather kept getting in the way. With multiple winter weather events already this month, Stamey said the goal would be to finish up the final touches, including grading work, with plans to hold a ribbon cutting in the spring, when residents would be able to explore. 

Who was Luther P. Jackson? 

But what about the park’s namesake? Who was Luther P. Jackson? He is considered one of Virginia’s first civil rights activists of the 1930s and 1940s. Serving as a professor of history at Virginia State College in Petersburg for almost 30 years, Jackson was focused on research.

He authored Free Negro Labor and Property Holding in Virginia, 1830–1860, a 1942 research paper that challenged stereotypes of antebellum black residents. Three years later, he followed that up with Negro Office Holders in Virginia, 1865-1895. The purpose in these and several other of his more than 60 books and articles, Jackson said, was to show African Americans as productive citizens throughout history, proving they owned businesses and houses, as well as ran for and got elected to political office, all long before 1900. 

He also helped found the Petersburg League of Negro Voters in 1935 and wrote a weekly newspaper column titled “Rights and Duties in a Democracy”. Jackson is also known for challenging Richmond’s segregated public transit system.