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Celebration Puts Emphasis on Lakeland’s Heritage

College Park’s African American community in Lakeland is unique in terms of its rich history and heritage. For 120 years, this community has survived the legacies of racism and discrimination to play a vital role in the evolution of College Park. The history of College Park cannot be completed without mentioning the rich history of Lakeland community.

This weekend, the Lakeland community celebrated the 120 year anniversary of that rich heritage. The event started at noon with a parade where more than 100 city residents took part. One of the community ‘s star, WWII veteran Leonard Smith served a the Parade’s Field Marshal. The parade traveled through the community’s neighborhood streets.

The community members then gathered in the parking lot of the College Park Community Center next to the Paint Branch School. They enjoyed free food, ice creams (courtesy of Rita) and light entertainment. There were also booths featuring jewelries sales, children games and face paintings.

Diane Weems Ligon arranged a booth showcasing a book on Lakeland’s history and selling Lakeland Heritage Day tee-shirts. Diane is a fourth generation Lakeland community member and has helped author the book herself.

Inside the community center, visitors watched a movie featuring Lakeland’s heritage. A number of history related posters were also on display. The celebration continued on Sunday with a prayer service at the local Baptist Church. 

To preserve Lakeland’s heritage, Lakeland Community Heritage Project (LCHP) was formed in 2007. For the first time, the LCHP received $16,000 from the county to celebrate this year’s 120 year anniversary. 

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