ABERDEEN – During a concert by the Gospel Sons at James Creek M.B. Church Feb. 4 celebrating Black History Month and the beginning of local Mardi Gras festivities, a stage to be built at Acker Park was dedicated to the person responsible for the park’s revitalization.
Dwight Stevens was recognized for adopting the park more than seven years ago.
“Acker Park is one of those places that as a youngster growing up, we weren’t allowed to go up there, but glory to God that things have changed. People have changed. That goes to show you that with time, with prayer, things will change if we just wait on God,” said Ward 3 Alderman Edward Haynes. “He sends angels to us. Dwight, you are that angel. You are that angel Aberdeen didn’t have. He’s not the prodigal son. He’s an angel that God sent to us and he has spent a lot of his hard-earned money and his own time to spend rebuilding a lot of things in this town when nobody else would, when nobody else could.”
Aberdeen Main Street was recently awarded a $25,000 USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training grant for planning the amphitheatre-style stage.
National community planning and design firm Orion Planning + Design will work with local officials for the planning stage of the project.
After it’s completed, it will be called the Dwight Stevens Stage at Acker Park.
“It’s hard work, but anything that’s hard work is worth doing. We have some people at City Hall now that understand we all need to be together. If we pull apart, we’re pulling against each other and we need to pull together. This is a small town, and we need to love our neighbors,” he said.
Neil Palmer, who organized last week’s Mardi Gras events, said the gospel concert was a good opportunity for unity.
“I know we’ve had a wild week in Aberdeen, but we’re all here together. We’re a testament to this city coming together. There’s not a place that could be more fitting for Black History Month than this church,” he said.
Ben Howell of the Gospel Sons added to those sentiments.
“If we can get everyone to stand together as one….Aberdeen has always been a beautiful place,” he said. “If we pull together and share together for the lives that together we share but divided we fall.”