By Michael Moore
The pond located in Tallahassee’s Myers Park neighborhood has been renamed in memory of the late Florida A&M University (FAMU) professor and civil rights activist Charles E. Evans, Ph.D.
The renaming of the pond comes after the Tallahassee City Commission unanimously approved the decision.
FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., asked that the pond be named after Evans in an August 2019 letter to Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey and city commissioners.
Evans, a former Tallahassee NAACP president, was one of the first African Americans to settle in the Myers Park neighborhood, where he remained for over 30 years.
Chapman Pond was named for Florida Supreme Court Justice Roy H. Chapman in 1952 upon his sudden death. Chapman, a strict segregationist and former resident of Myers Park, authored the Florida Supreme Court opinion on May 16, 1950 in “Shepherd v. State,” condemning the Groveland Four and upholding their wrongful Lake County conviction, Robinson wrote.
“Chapman’s long and disturbing judicial record of authoring unrepentant segregationist opinions and voting to maintain segregation, certainly in one of America’s most notorious, abhorrent and egregious miscarriages of justice with the Groveland Case, strikes a dissonant note in a time when many local and state governments are voting to remove the names and likeness of such individuals from publicly-owned land,” Robinson said in his letter, which noted that Gov. Ron DeSantis pardoned the falsely accused last year.
“It is my belief that such an action would clear the way for reconciliation, and force us to reckon squarely with the not so pleasant past, while righting while righting a historical wrong.”
During a virtual city commission meeting on July 8, Commissioner Curtis Richardson made a motion to rename the pond after Evans to ensure his name stays in Tallahassee for his work within the community.
“I would like to motion that we rename Chapman Pond to Dr. Charles Evans Pond,” said Richardson. “In memory… to all that he contributed to this community and improving the quality of life not only for African Americans here in the city of Tallahassee but all who call Tallahassee home.”
Mayor Dailey supported the proposal, which then received the backing of all the commission members.
After the vote, Robinson took to social media to acknowledge the honor bestowed on Evans. “Well deserved by an outstanding citizen, leader and educator!!!” Robinson tweeted.
During his 31-year tenure at FAMU, Evans served as associate dean, professor of marketing, and director of Graduate Programs for School of Business and Industry and handled oversight of the FAMU Small Business Development Center.
Evans was raised in a segregated Durham, North Carolina. Before graduating as valedictorian from Merrick-Moore High School, he joined the NAACP to fight for desegregation, voting rights, and jobs for the African-American community.
Throughout high school, Evans led many marches and sit-ins. He partnered with his cousin, Walter Riley, to organize a bus trip including high school students to what is now known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom of 1963. Evans continued to do so as he furthered his education at North Carolina A&T State University.