City of LaGrange holds ribbon cutting for park local icons

Published 10:15 am Friday, July 28, 2023

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In a morning filled with celebration and remembrance, the City of LaGrange held an official ribbon cutting Thursday for Moss and Wood Park . Moss and Wood Park are named after two men with LaGrange ties, the Rev. Otis Moss, Jr. and Dr. Benjamin T. Wood.

The park was established in 2022 as an amenity-rich community space named to honor the two leaders who significantly impacted LaGrange’s history. The park features a playground and fitness equipment, pavilions, a covered stage for community events, adult swings, barbecue grills, and game tables, making it an ideal gathering place for people of all ages.

Mayor Willie Edmondson said the event served as a momentous occasion.

“My only regret is that Dr. Wood nor his and his family were able to be here for him because he meant so much to LaGrange. People loved him in LaGrange. He delivered a lot of babies and took care of a lot of people that didn’t have any money,” Edmondson said.

“Dr. Moss is a pioneer. He paved the way for so many people here in Troup County as well as the entire world. He stands so tall for his activism and free speech. Dr. Moss was born and raised right here in Troup County. So certainly, we wanted to make sure that we let him know how much we appreciate him.”

Moss’s son, Otis Moss III, said it was an honor to represent his father.

“It’s exciting and a real honor to be out here today. We are elated that the City of LaGrange would honor not only my father Otis Moss Jr, but also Dr. Benjamin Wood too,” Otis said.

Upon being recognized for his work and legacy, Moss said he felt thankful

“Words cannot express what is in my heart and the gratitude to the present leadership of this city, and to all of our ancestors, who labored in the heat of the day and all they sacrificed, knowing that what they were doing was right. We stand in their honor, and it’s such a blessing to keep living in their dream,” Moss said.

Moss was born and raised in LaGrange and became a world-renowned Civil Rights leader. He rose to national and international prominence as a minister, lecturer, civic leader and civic rights advocate. As the son of a Troup County sharecropper who tried unsuccessfully to vote in 1946, Moss excelled at Morehouse College, became friends with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and helped organize lunch counter sit-ins in the 1950s.

He pastored Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Troup County, then co-pastored Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church with MLK before moving to Cleveland, Ohio’s largest and most influential Black Baptist church, Olivet Institutional. He retired in 2008 but continued leadership in church civil rights and social justice issues.

For more than 40 years, Wood was the most prominent Black physician in LaGrange. A graduate of Fisk University, Wood received his medical training at Nashville’s Meharry Medical College, the South’s first medical school for people of color. Following additional training at Tuskegee Institute and Florida A&M University, he served patients in LaGrange and surrounding areas from 1927 until his death in 1970.