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Student demonstrators in the rainy weather protesting outside of Coffman Memorial Union on Tuesday.
Photos from April 23 protests
Published April 23, 2024

Marcy-Holmes Park renaming and renovations

As renovations progress, changing Marcy Park’s name in the near future has gained traction.
Image by Kamaan Richards
The Marcy-Holmes neighborhood provides housing for a significant number of University of Minnesota students.

With renovations on Marcy Park underway, many residents living in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood said they feel the park’s name should be changed due to its honoree’s distasteful legacy.

Marcy Park was built in 1992 and renovations to the park began in July, but the name of the Dinkytown-bound park is still in question. According to the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association’s website, the park is named after a “cynical, racist politician that never stepped foot in Minnesota” — William L. Marcy.

Current renovation plans include a newly implemented dog park, community basketball court, replacement trees, bench seating, underground storm water treatment and more. Several other renovations are set to occur with the hopes of further improving the park’s design, catering to its University of Minnesota-student audience.

After expressing their distaste for the current name of the facility, the association created a petition to change the park’s name.

Marcy, the park’s namesake, was an American statesman who held various political positions throughout the mid-1800s. Marcy was a secretary of war and U.S. secretary of state. His almost 40-year career as a politician has raised some questions about the park’s naming.

Marcy, a northerner with a southerners sympathies, was an advocate for slavery during his time as a politician, which is often the cause of controversy with the park’s name.

“[To] work towards some sort of anti-racist future, we have to examine the names that we have in our neighborhoods, and sometimes the names have meaning,” Billy Menz, Minneapolis Park Comissioner for District 1, said. “It’s not a meaning that we necessarily hold on to any longer.”

Another point some residents have brought up is that Marcy never set foot in Minneapolis, let alone Minnesota; ultimately raising a query about his relation with the area.

Menz said community engagement was helpful and necessary in this process.

The name changing process would take place over two years and go through the park board. There would be a public hearing and a nomination put forward to the board.

Some Marcy Holmes residents agreed with Menz and expressed support in changing the current title of the newly renovated park.

Erica Hanson, a Marcy Holmes resident, said she supports the name change because its current name is dedicated to a slavery advocate

“It’s great that our generation is able to hold others accountable and put efforts toward creating a more respectful and accepting city,” Hanson said.

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