Freedom Park to honor John Lewis with 300 blooming trees

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5 things to know about the late Rep. John Lewis. John Lewis was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington in 1963 and the youngest member of the "Big Six" leaders of the civil rights movement. At 25, Lewis was attacked while helping lead marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Former President Barack Obama awarded Lewis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, in 2010. Lewis has been handcuffed at least 45 times, according to a 2013 press release. He is the first Black lawmaker to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol rotunda, following his death in 2020

A three-day volunteer planting project is planned next month

Congressman John Lewis may be gone, but he is not forgotten and his life and legacy is being honored with a flowering forest.

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is partnering with Freedom Park Conservancy and Trees Atlanta to create a living tree tribute to memorialize Lewis, who dedicated his life to public service, according to an announcement from the nonprofit designated as Atlanta’s Art Park.

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In the first phase of a multi-year project, more than 300 blooming trees, flowering shrubs and fields of daffodils will be planted over the course of three days. The shrubbery was chosen for their early blooming in late winter — particularly about February — so they can blossom in celebration of the statesman and civil rights leader’s birthday annually. The project also honors Black History Month and Georgia Arbor Day on Feb. 19.

The volunteer effort is set for Feb. 19-21, the final day of which would have been Rep. Lewis’s 81st birthday. Interested volunteers must register in advance to plant trees on either Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Spaces are also limited.

“Freedom Park has an important legacy in the areas of art, activism and nature, and this tree installation will honor John Lewis and allow us to reinforce his legacy for future generations,” Harriett Lane, Freedom Park Conservancy chair said in a statement. “Today John Lewis Plaza within Freedom Park is anchored by The Bridge, a work of sculptor Thornton Dial, which represents Congressman Lewis’ lifelong quest for the advancement of civil and human rights.”

The flowering forest won’t end when the planting does next month. Over the course of five years, it will be extended with hundreds more blooming trees throughout Freedom Park. The flowering shrubs including dogwoods, redbuds and magnolias will tie together John Lewis Plaza, The Carter Center and The King Center.

“Congressman Lewis sowed seeds of hope and equity. His life’s work was an undaunted fight for civil and human rights — without prejudice or exception,” National Center for Civil and Human Rights’ head of programs and exhibitions, Dr. Calinda Lee said in part in a statement.

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Flowering Forest – a Tree Tribute

Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 19-21

Freedom Park

Moreland Ave NE and North Avenue NE, Atlanta

Register here