A Man For His Time

November 5th, 2009 at 1:02 am by under News
Former Grand Rapids Mayor Lyman Park dead at the age of 92.

Former Grand Rapids Mayor Lyman Parks dead at the age of 92.

I was a rookie reporter here at TV-8 when Lyman Parks was Mayor of Grand Rapids.  The fact that he was also a minister was not lost on me nor this community.  It’s interesting to note, nearly four decades later, we have another man of the cloth holding the same seat of power in Grand Rapids, George Heartwell.

I always thought Rev. Parks was a man for his time in this city.  Grand Rapids, like so many other urban areas in this nation, was emerging from the ravages of racism and riots.  Being black, but equally as important, being a holy man, Rev. Parks felt a calling to bridge the great divide that separated blacks from whites, the inner city from the suburbs, the have nots from the haves.

If you knew him, observed him from a distance, or watched him up close in action, you witnessed his dignity and pose.  Characteristic of a minister, there was a poeticism in the way he spoke and certainly a spirituality in his approach.

To me, he seemed like a man of conviction not confrontation… reconciliation not reparation.  He had a vision and a voice and he used them both to help begin the rebuilding of this city through brick and mortar as well as through human discourse and relationships.

The first black Mayor of Grand Rapids paid a visit to one of the wealthiest white men of Ada, Richard DeVos,  and that began a conversation and a relationship that led to a life-long renewal of a city. 

In the late 60′s and early 70′s, Rev. Lyman Parks shattered a myth, an erroneous perception of who a black man was and what he could accomplish.  In his high profile position as leader of Michigan’s second largest city, Mayor Parks could go where other blacks had no access and he could chisel cracks in the great divide.

May his memory be eternal.

One Response to “A Man For His Time”

  1. Suzanne, I am a woman who lives in Hastings, MI, and have followed your career since you first began with WOOD-TV. I admire the work you do and your sincerity.

    Thank you for posting this wonderful tribute to a valuable member of society and the human race.

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