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Rename Rodney Cook Sr. Park to honor Ivory Lee Young, Jr., civil rights advocate urges

Mims Park, trees The Rodney Cook, Sr. Park should be renamed, an Atlanta civil rights leader contends. File/Credit: David Pendered

By David Pendered

The Rodney Cook Sr. Park in the Vine City neighborhood should be renamed because its namesake helped lay the foundation for a Georgia Republican Party that critics have connected to suppression of black voters, according to Atlanta-based civil rights advocate Joe Beasley

Mims Park, trees

The Rodney Cook, Sr. Park should be renamed, an Atlanta civil rights leader contends. File/Credit: David Pendered

“For us to ignore it would be irresponsible,” Beasley said of the naming. “Mr. Cook’s core values are more in keeping with Gov. Marvin Griffin, who put up the Stone Mountain carving to show that black people were going to be kept in their place.”

Beasley suggested the park be named for Ivory Lee Young, Jr., who represented the area on the Atlanta City Council from 2002 until his death in 2018.

Griffin signed legislation in 1958 to create the Stone Mountain Memorial Association. The association was charged with purchasing the Stone Mountain and surrounding land to establish a park. According to a report by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, the park is to “serve as a memorial to Southern history” and includes, “a large sculpture commemorating the Confederacy.” Then Vice President Spiro Agnew dedicated the carving in 1970.

Beasley remarked in a text sent in the wee hours Sunday that he has not received a response from city officials to a letter he sent about the naming issue. The April 25 email is addressed to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore.

Beasley is in South Africa this week to monitor the national elections on Wednesday. Voters will determine whether the African National Congress will continue to control the legislature, as it has since the 1994 election of Nelson Mandela heralded the end of white-majority rule.

Beasley’s letter observes:

Joe Beasley

Joe Beasley

  • “I by no means seek to tarnish the character of Mr. Cook, but urge you to take a look at his ‘core values.’  You will find that he is the chief architect of the modern day Georgia Republican Party. His mentees are the late U.S. Sen. Coverdale and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
  • “That does not make him a bad person but his values are diametrically opposed to those held by residents of Vine City! Which should disqualify him from having his name placed in a park, which will house statues of African heroines and heroes.”

Beasley also reiterated his call to ensure the planned statuary in the park does not honor Tomochichi, an 18th-centuryt chief of the Yamacraw Indians. Tomochichi is credited as a leader who played a large role in the settlement of Georgia by negotiating with early settler Gen. James Oglethorpe, according to a citation in the New Georgia Encyclopedia:

  • “As the principal mediator between the native population and the new English settlers during the first years of settlement, he contributed much to the establishment of peaceful relations between the two groups and to the ultimate success of Georgia.”

Beasley offered a different perspective on Tomochichi’s role in history.

“To us, he would be called a turncoat,” Beasley said.

“He was an accommodationist who didn’t live in Atlanta and shouldn’t be honored in an Atlanta park,” Beasley said. “He was so taken by the people coming from Europe that he just adored them, to the point of going to England to meet the king of England. His reward for his diligence with the new arrivals was: They took his land and his people are still on reservations.”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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  1. Jon May 6, 2019 11:30 pm

    What did he get wrong specifically? How can you call his outrage faux?Report

  2. Joe Beasley May 7, 2019 4:33 am

    I would be delighted to meet with you to discuss further! 4042183997 anytime after May 12th.Report

  3. Joe Bob May 7, 2019 11:06 am

    Really Dr. Beasley? The virtue signalling here makes me want to vomit. Me thinks thou dost protest too much! Was it really that you didn’t like the policies of Rodney Cook Sr., or maybe it was the color of his skin that is REALLY the issue here? Why don’t we just name the park after you? You seem desperate for the attention.

    The citizens living in Vine City likely don’t even know who Rodney Cook Sr. was, let alone who you are! Let’s stop playing the race card and just build a park where are all races can come together. At the rate they are going, this park won’t be open for another 10 years anyway. Trying to suppress history (or warp it to fit your SJW narrative) is only detrimental to future generations.Report

  4. Jose A. May 7, 2019 11:51 am

    I suppose we should ignore that he was the first one to call for the removal of the “Peyton Wall” that prevented African Americans from moving to white neighborhoods in Atlanta AND he was a supporter of seating Julian Bond to the GA House of Representatives in 1966 an act for which he received death threats and kidnapping threats against his children.

    You can check his obituary in The New York Times. I believe we can all trust their research.
    The author would do well to substantiate Mr. Beasley’s claims, particularly the one linking Mr. Cook Sr. to former Governor Griffin.
    As a recent transplanted resident to Georgia I didn’t know of either man before reading this article but from five minutes of research I call to question Mr. Beasley’s narrative. It seems like Mr. Cook’s only fault is having been a member of the Republican party.
    More importantly I question the Saporta Report’s editorial staff for lending credibility to what amounts to one man’s unsubstantiated opinion of Mr. Cook Sr’s legacy.Report

    1. O4W Resident May 10, 2019 10:02 am

      “As a recent transplanted resident to Georgia I didn’t know of either man before reading this article but from five minutes of research I call to question Mr. Beasley’s narrative. It seems like Mr. Cook’s only fault is having been a member of the Republican party.”

      This website spends half their articles lamenting the fact that Democrats haven’t controlled Georgia state government in over 15 years and is a shill for every major Dem candidate that runs in an election (Nunn, Carter, Ossoff, Abrams, etc.)Report

  5. Alma May 7, 2019 2:31 pm

    I never agreed on the name but Ivory was the one who pushed that behind the Communities back I would love a name change by all means let’s do thisReport

  6. Grant May 9, 2019 3:19 pm

    Ivory Young had just as many (if not more) personal and professional character flaws as Rodney Cook Sr. I’m not sure who would come out ahead if we listed all of their flaws side by side.Report

  7. Shutthefuckup May 13, 2019 7:15 pm

    I thought it was John Weasley Dobbs that got the wall removed. Why did Cook allow the blockade to be built in the first place?

    Vine city was the Epicenter of the civil rights movement which is world history and drowns out any other names that was mention. Maybe we should stop trying to WHITE WASH greatness. The park should have something to reflect all the obstacles black people had to overcome.

    Respectfully, I don’t think COOKE or YOUNG deserve the park being named after them.Report

  8. Alma Lott May 20, 2019 9:47 pm

    We have started our Movement in our Community Vine City to fight against this name because it was done behind the People backs we never wanted it. We have become an mix Community and all agree the name do not fit our Communities only a small group that have lived off of Vine City and English Ave for so long they think everything wrong is right we the people stand up . We decided on 4 different names that will fit Legacy Park, Historic Legacy Park, Westside Legacy Park ,Legacy Park Westside, we want to be able to Honor the ones that made freedom move died for us as we fight not to get alone others is moving forward but this fight will continue . When people get paid to continue selling you out for a few pennies is shameful. I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Beasley but when I do I want to thank him for taking a stand. We have to focus on our great Leaders Dr.king , Congressman John Lewis and many more that stood up. Our people is evening displace and naming that park after a slave driver name will come to an racist war we do not need that in Vine City . So if anybody want to vote the polls is open we do not need another neglect piece prayer goes along way. My Pastor’s teach us to love I was build up with so much Hate when losing 7 nephews in our Communities it’s time the people voice count . Mr. Rodney was not a Hero not for Blacks we can not say how a person will feel but I know for a fact he would have never changed God know his children have worked up thank you Heavenly Father God and I want to Thank all God BlessReport


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