‘That dream has become a reality,’ researcher says about Springfield historical marker

More than 100 people attended dedication ceremony for Sully Jaymes, Springfield activist and lawyer.

About 125 people attended the dedication of Clark County’s 10th Ohio Historical Marker last weekend.

The Conscious Connect, a Springfield-based nonprofit focused on education, culture and health, hosted a marker dedication ceremony and block party on June 8 at the new pocket park at 1615 Woodward Ave. to honor Sully Jaymes, one of Springfield’s first Black attorneys.

Karlos Marshall, co-founder and co-executive director of The Conscious Connect, was the lead researcher for the project. He and The Conscious Connect believe all people living in south Springfield should be within a 10-minute walk to a high-quality public park or green space.

The Woodward Avenue park, now named the Sully Jaymes Memorial park, offers green space, a basketball court, benches and landscaping.

In his opening remarks, Marshall said this dream became a possibility on May 22, 2018, when they acquired the first of two lots from the Clark County Land Bank.

“As a Woodward Avenue homeowner myself, I can recall the days when dilapidated houses sat on both of these lots and stifled the hopes, dreams and aspirations of residents that passed by. But those dreams were not to be deferred ... so on this day of June 8, 2024, that dream has become a reality,” he said.

This project is more than six years in the making, “a testament that excellence takes time, perseverance, patience and partnership,” and nearly a $100,000 investment into the southside neighborhood, where Marshall, his co-founder, son and board president did all of the landscaping on the property until they received help from his friend who took over those duties.

“It’s the neighbors that are on this street that are both the dream team and the dream makers. They had community here long before there was ever a brick, and on any given day you can ride past these houses and witness laughter and fellowship through food and music,” Marshall said. “This here is community, where communion and unity make a beautiful collision, and I would not want to call anywhere else home because the neighbors of the 1600 block of Woodward Avenue, they simply do not make them like you anymore.”

The Conscious Connect’s mission is rooted in advocacy and fighting for the underdog, and no one represented that better that Jaymes, Marshall said.

Jaymes, who was born March 30 between 1875 and 1880, and who died in 1950, opened his practice in Springfield in 1903 and “provided free legal services to the Black community during a time of profound racial tension,” according to the Clark County Heritage Center. “He was one of Springfield’s most tireless activists for equal rights.”

Jaymes represented primarily Black clients, including Richard Dixon, the lynching victim of the 1904 riot, and other African-Americans indicted in the race riots of 1906 and 1921.

“May Sully Jaymes Memorial Park be a place where the next generation of change agents may be inspired to reach higher. Although we are 74 years late to the party, Mr. Jaymes, you are finally receiving your flowers,” he said.

Along with Marshall, the event included several other speakers who talked about Jaymes and the marker’s importance. They included: Sheila Rice, Clark County Clerk of Courts and southside business owner; Ethan Harris, executive director of the Clark County Land Bank; Jeff Fudge Sr., Woodward Avenue homeowner and neighborhood advocate; Raphael Allen, director of community outreach of the Springfield Foundation; Kevin Rose, historian of the Turner Foundation; Derek Pridemore, curator of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center; and Joshua Woods, My Brother’s Keeper student leader and Springfield High School student who provided the official marker reading.

The event also included music, a bounce house, games, books and food.

In addition to The Conscious Connect, sponsors for the marker included the Springfield Foundation, Turner Foundation and Ohio History Connection.

The Clark County Public Library and Clark County Historical Society at the Heritage Center supported the research project by collecting materials from their databases and archives on Jaymes.

About the Author