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1.15.2017

Fairview Park: Picnic Grove & Refuge from Jim Crow Segregation: Delmont, PA Westmoreland County

When we feel that we need to get away for the day or for just a little bit of time to relax, often times with friends or family, a picnic grove or amusement park is often a destination for us. It is easy to take for granted that we can pick up and go to a park or amusement park in an uninhibited manner. In my opinion, this is one of the most basic things that we all should be able to do within society. That is one of the foundational principles of our mission here on our page, to help boost awareness and access to the many places that make Pennsylvania great and help to bring us relaxation. Sharpening ourselves with relaxation is so incredibly important. I get extremely upset when I learn of stories in which this basic right has been withheld. 

On this Martin Luther King Day we take a look at Fairview Park, a picnic grove and small amusement park that the rising black middle class of the 1940s in the Pittsburgh area built as a result of being flat out banned from visiting picnic groves and amusement parks in the area. It was built in the post-war years when more blacks had the opportunity to grow into the middle class and local black churches banded together to purchase 100 acres of land out off of the historic Route 22 William Penn Highway Corridor. The Monongahela Valley Sunday School Association organized the effort and would carry families on school buses from the city for those who did not have automobiles.
Even though Fairview does not have the amusement rides and attractions that it once had, including a roller coaster, the land is still home to some tranquil picnic groves. It is good to see that having an alternate amusement park due to racial segregation is no longer needed, but it is also great to see that a picnic grove has still stood the test of time as both a remembrance of the positive spirit that lead towards the creation of Fairview Park. In the face of such tumultuous times, the black community came through to create a fine place for gatherings, and for families and kids to get the experience of visiting an amusement park when this opportunity would have not been able to occur in the climate of the times.
Seeing Fairview Park is humbling, sobering, and inspirational. It is humbling and sobering that a place like this needed to exist, but it is also humbling and inspirational to see the spirit that was able to overcome such odds and create a refuge like this to simply relax, when horrendous laws worked to ensure that something as simple as visiting an amusement park could be denied to you simply because of your race. This place is such a great example of the causes that Rev. Martin Luther King fought for, and think of this place when you think of some of the efforts and sacrifices of the Civil Rights Movement. MLK specifically stated that one of the hardest things he ever had to do was to tell his daughter that their local amusement park in Atlanta would not let them visit, even after they heard all of the many advertisements for the park and seen the rides when passing by the park. Fairview Park is so special in that it likely helped many children to never have that sort of experience and it helped to bring the community together in the midst of such a terrible situation.

For more information about the park, check out their website at http://fairviewparkpa.weebly.com/ 

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