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After culling through more than 800 community-submitted suggestions. Hyattsville city officials released a short list of possible suggestions to rename Magruder Park.
The list, developed by the Hyattsville Race and Equity Task force, includes five primary suggestions as follows:
- David C. Driskell Community Park – Named after Hyattsville artist and scholar David Driskell, who died of Covid in 2020. Driskell was a pre-eminent African American artist and a pivotal figure in the study of African American art. His death was national news. Driskell was, by far, the most-common suggestion submitted by city residents over the summer, with 235 people writing in support of renaming the park after him.
- Nacotchtank Community Park – This suggestion would see Magruder Park renamed after the Nacotchank indigenous people who settled along the banks of the present-day Anacostia River before their lives were upended under European colonialism. The word also referred to the waterways that are today known as the Anacostia, the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia, and Indian Creek. This suggested name evolved from a suggestion to rename the park Anaquash Park, an anglicized name referring to the same people. According to a memo from the Race and Equity Task Force, Rico Newman of University Park, an elder council member of the Choptico Band of Piscataway Indians, preferred city officials to use the less-anglicized name if they went ahead with a proposal to rename the park to reference the region’s indigenous history.
- Unity Community Park – This was another popular suggestion that emerged over this summer’s name search. According to the Task Force, this option is designed to highlight the park’s modern-day role “as a place in the community where all residents can come together regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or socio-economic status and be joined together as a diverse, yet united community.”
- Gateway Community Park – This option would rename the park in honor of the Gateway Arts District.
- Inspiration Park – This option was derived from about 25 similar suggestions that highlighted the “many things that can be seen and experienced within the boundaries of the park.”
Additionally, the Race and Equity Task force requested the city plan a “land acknowledgment” as part of the renaming process for Magruder Park. Such an acknowledgment would include a physical declaration, perhaps carved on a prominent monument or stone, that Nacotchtank indigenous people lived on the land when European colonists arrived in the area and displaced them.
“The physical land acknowledgement will honor and respect Nacotchtank ancestors and living members of the tribe who are connected to this land, and create a lasting memory for park visitors to carry with them,” reads the memo.
Hyattsville City Council has been weighing the possible renaming of Magruder Park since 2018. The motivation for changing the name of the park comes from its namesake, prominent early 20-century Prince George’s landowner and politician William Pinkney Magruder. He donated some of the land that now makes up the park with a clause the restricting its use “for the Caucasian inhabitants only” of Hyattsville.
In August, Hyattsville City Council directed city staff to move forward with a process to gather new name suggestions. Those names would then be vetted by two Hyattsville advisory committees, including the city’s Race and Equity Task Force and the city’s Health, Wellness and Recreation Advisory Committee. In June, the city removed signs bearing Magruder’s name from the park, citing vandalism.
While those deed clauses were rendered unenforceable by a 1948 Supreme Court ruling, they remained on the books until very recently. In Sept. 2020, Hyattsville City Council announced they had removed those clauses from the deed through a unique legal motion.