Our Iowa Heritage: Honoring James Alan McPherson.

In March 2021, The Iowa City City Council approved the renaming of Creekside Park to James Alan McPherson Park. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ribbon-cutting ceremony was delayed, so in order to celebrate this important event, the Parks and Recreation Department rescheduled for Thursday evening, August 5, 2021, hosting a Party in the Park at the newly-named James Alan McPherson Park, located at 1856 7th Avenue Court.

I’ve written an earlier post on this amazing man, and you can click here to read it, but for now, here’s a short bio:

James Alan McPherson (1943–2016) was an American essayist and short-story writer. He was the first African-American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and was included among the first group of artists who received a MacArthur Fellowship. At the time of his death, McPherson was a professor emeritus of fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.


Sandy and I I live just a few blocks from the newly-named park and we didn’t want to miss the ceremony. Here are a few shots from the evening. Enjoy!

Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague had a few words of welcome…

James’ daughter, Rachel McPherson, shared some wonderful stories about her father, reading a collection of beautiful testimonies from others who had been so blessed to be around her father.

It’s time for the ribbon-cutting! That’s Parks & Recreation Department Head, Juli Seydell Johnson, helping out.

Mayor Teague said that James loved to sing, so in his honor, the mayor led us in a chorus of You Are My Sunshine to close the ceremony.

The McPherson Book Table – a very nice touch to the fine evening!

Plenty of Elbow Room in Iowa City…

James A. McPherson truly loved Iowa City, seeing our community as the basis of a spiritually centered democracy. He once wrote…

I have many friends here: black and white and other … I am confident that here, I am first of all a person, a human being. I have been accepted into the life of the community. I have open and free access to what in this community has meaning and value.

(M-0117) From Our Iowa Heritage collection is this bookplate signed by Mr. McPherson.
Welcome to James Alan McPherson Neighborhood Park – come and enjoy!

Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.

Ribbon-cutting to be held in Iowa City celebrating the renaming of Creekside Park, IowaNewsNow, CBS2News, July 30, 2021

Iowa City community leaders suggest renaming local park after Pulitzer Prize winner, Brian Grace, The Daily Iowan, August 25, 2020

James Alan McPherson, Facebook

James Alan McPherson Park Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Photo Album, Iowa City Parks and Recreation Department, Facebook, August 6, 2021

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