BY HYON-YOUNG KIM
Takoma Park seeks to honor the legacy of one of its most inspirational citizens: Lee Jordan.
“He was one of those people in life that no one forgets,” said Diana Kohn, president of Historic Takoma Inc. “He was that impressive a person.”
Takoma Park Middle School custodian janitor, athletic coach and civil rights leader, Lee Jordan brought together boys and girls, white and black, to play sports in an informal group that became what is today the Takoma Park Boys and Girls Club.
Twenty-five years after his death in 1988, Historic Takoma, the Takoma Park Recreation Committee and Takoma Park Boys and Girls Club have come together to hold a formal rededication of Lee Jordan Field at Takoma Park Middle School, where two new interpretive panel signs will be unveiled.
Kohn said that one sign will explain who Lee Jordan was and why he was so important that people named the field after him, while the other sign will detail the history of the field itself, which was named after Lee Jordan in 1981.
“We felt that it was important for the current generation to understand who Lee Jordan was,” Kohn said. “His story and understanding his role in Takoma Park’s history is important to understanding the history of Takoma Park.”
Lee Jordan founded the Takoma Park Boys and Girls Club in 1937 and was posthumously inducted into the Montgomery County Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2006, according to the Takoma Park Boys and Girls website.
“His impact was to pave the way for integration here,” Kohn said. “He provided an opportunity not only for kids to play sports but also to get to know kids in town across the racial line.”
Lee Jordan, center.
Lee Jordan encouraged integration before Takoma Park school integration officially took place in 1955 after the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Supreme Court decision declaring segregation unconstitutional.
“When the school integration happened, the kids had already been playing on baseball teams with each other,” Kohn said. “When they closed the African American schools and moved the kids to white schools, there was a much smoother transition to that era.”
Lee Jordan Field today.
Several individuals who knew Lee Jordan, including athletes whom Lee Jordan coached as well as family members who still live in Takoma Park, will say a few words at the ceremony, according to Kohn.
The rededication ceremony will be held at the field Sunday, September 15, at 4 p.m., with a picnic following the formal program. Everyone is welcome to attend.
“His legacy is still alive today,” Kohn said. “We need to keep alive his legacy…this is only the first step.”