Local Washington State Park Changes Name Meaning To Honor Rosa Franklin, The States First Black Woman Senator


February 25, 2021

They are honoring our hidden heroes!

A local Washington State park recently changed the meaning of its name to honor the state’s first Black woman senator, King 5 news reports.


The board of commissioners for Metro Parks Tacoma voted unanimously to change Franklin Park’s meaning in Tacoma, Washington. Initially, the local park was named after Benjamin Franklin, one of the country’s founding fathers. Now, the commissioners have elected to rename the park in honor of Rosa Franklin, the first Black woman to serve as a Washington state senator. 

The historic move makes Franklin park the first park in the city named after a Black American. Franklin moved to Tacoma in 1954 from South Carolina, working in nursing for a decade before deciding to run for office. She eventually became the first Black woman to serve as a state senator in Washington, remaining in the position for nearly two decades, from 1993-2010. The decision to honor Franklin is a part of a larger initiative by Metro Parks to shine a light on the contributions of local people of color in the city to deflect the diverse history of Tacoma. 

Debbie Terwilleger, director of business administration and planning for Metro Parks Tacoma, spoke about the decision, saying, “[Ms. Franklin] was instrumental in helping us build support for the Star Center, which is a community center in South Tacoma. She’s been a very committed partner with us, and as someone who is local, she’s a tremendous example, and we’re privileged to be able to highlight that by naming this park for her. Words matter and I believe that this is a really strong statement on behalf of the park about where we want to be.”


Franklin said she was surprised and humbled when she heard the news, encouraging the next generation to continue the work she started. 

“For those that are here now, you’ve done a great job, I have high respect for you, and our parks are so wonderful. Thank you so much for this honor, indeed,” Franklin told reporters. 

Congratulations, Ms. Franklin!


Photo Courtesy of Reuters

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