General Gourdin and African American Veterans Memorial and Park
Status: This project has been completed.
The artists and Veterans and Friends of General Gourdin and African American Veterans Park made this project possible. The goal of the project is to honor:
- Justice Gourdin
- Black veterans, and
- the Roxbury neighborhood.
Formerly called Dudley Park, the area was reimagined as a community park. The local 272nd Field Artillery Battalion veterans association suggested dedicating the park to Brigadier General Edward O. Gourdin.
Gourdin’s history is closely connected with Roxbury. His accomplishments include:
- being the first Black judge appointed to the Roxbury District Court
- the first Black person in New England appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court
- the first man in history to break 25 feet in the long jump, and
- a silver medalist in the event for the United States at the 1924 Paris Olympics.
A life-size statue of Gourdin has been installed on a granite pedestal. The late Boston artist Fern Cunningham-Terry sculpted the statue.
The vision of the park has expanded to honor all Black veterans. Despite ongoing racism, Black service members have taken part in every major American conflict. Boston artist Karen Eutemey sculpted reliefs. These reliefs represent the Black people who have served in 10 military engagements.
The portraits were cast in bronze by Buccacio Studios. They are arranged along the northwest edge of the new open plaza with the General Gourdin sculpture.
Community values and project impact
The reliefs honor the underrepresented Black community and its military legacy. Martha Lyon Landscape Architecture also redeveloped the surrounding area. This work was in partnership with Boston Parks and Recreation. The community’s desire was to create a welcoming space that reflects Roxbury's history. That desire helped inform this process.
The park is a necessary addition to public art in Boston and in the U.S. The contributions and achievements of Black people are underrepresented in Boston’s public monuments. This project has played a major role in addressing this issue.