Borrowing from Wilmington Native Bob Marley, Council President Gregory Wants a Tatnall Street Park Named "One Love Park"

Posted on  02/12/2014 2:39 pm

The Council Leader Says a Name Can Transmit Thoughts That Become Actions That Help an Entire Community Become a Better Place

Photo of Bob Marley June 2, 1977 at the Rainbow Theater - London, UK - Photo by Adrian Boot

Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory says sometimes a name, in this case, a new name for a City park, could be the key to changing attitudes and behaviors and transforming a community for generations.

The Council President is moving forward with plans to rename Tatnall Playground at 24th and Tatnall Streets as “One Love Park,” based on the song “One Love” and lyrics by internationally-known reggae musician Bob Marley. Marley lived for a time in Wilmington in the mid-1960’s in a home owned by his mother at 2313 Tatnall Street which is across the street from the park.

The ordinance that would allow for the renaming of the park is co-sponsored by Council Member Nnamdi Chukwuocha who is also Chair of the Council’s Education, Youth and Families Committee (D-1st District) and Trippi Congo (D-2nd District).

“The lyrics of One Love and what the song has come to mean to people in the years since Bob Marley composed it is what I hope to capture by renaming the park,” said Gregory. “We all need a reminder from time to time about the importance of love in our hearts for our children and for each other. Bob Marley’s daughter, Cedella Marley, has taken her father’s work and legacy and adapted a children’s book entitled “One Love.” The book is intended to remind new generations that amazingly positive things can happen in a community and people can feel alright when everyone comes together with love in their hearts.”

Gregory says he doesn’t look at these themes of love and caring for each other as just notions or some grandiose or unattainable thought. “I want children who play in Love Park to ask why it was given that name and accept their responsibility to make this a better City and world.”

Council President Gregory’s proposal to rename the Tatnall Street Park will come before the City Planning Commission on February 18. If approved by the Commission, it will be presented to the full City Council for consideration either later this month or early in March.

The following text information about Bob Marley and his family and their footprint in the Wilmington community is taken from the City Planning Department’s staff report to the Planning Commission:

BACKGROUND

The brick row house at 2311 Tatnall Street, located across the street from Tatnall Playground, was briefly home to the internationally renowned reggae singer and songwriter Bob Marley. The biographical background information provided below was found on the official Bob Marley Website at www.bobmarley.com. Born Robert Nesta Marley in 1945 in Rhoden Hall, Nine Miles, St. Ann, Jamaica, Marley spent his youth in Jamaica.

In 1962 when Marley was only 17, his mother, Cedella Malcolm emigrated from Kingston, Jamaica to Wilmington, Delaware to join her sister’s family. Marley stayed in Kingston, recording with his band the Wailing Wailers. In 1966 at the age of 21, Marley married Alfarita “Rita” Constantia Anderson in Trench Town, Jamaica.

Shortly after his marriage, Marley joined his mother in Wilmington, Delaware in order to earn money for his new family and music career. While working at the Chrysler Plant on the assembly line in Newark, Delaware and as a lab assistant at DuPont, Marley stayed with his mother at 2311 Tatnall Street.

Marley returned to Jamaica in October of 1966 after only 8 months in Wilmington. Various accounts state that Marley and his family visited Wilmington throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s while Marley’s music career and family continued to grow. Marley and Rita’s third son Stephen was born in Wilmington in 1972.

While in Wilmington, Marley developed a friendship with a man from their neighborhood named Godfrey “Ibis” Pitts, who he met in 1969. Ibis went on to play music and travel with Marley through the late 1960s and early 1970. Ibis later married Genoveva “Genny” Pitts and the couple moved back to Wilmington, Delaware in 1977 at the invitation of Rita Marley. A photograph of Marley, Marley’s mother, Ibis, and Ibis’ daughter, Udochi, in front of 2311 Tatnall Street, and a second photo Bob Marley and Udochi next to the Tatnall Playground fence are included as Attachment #3, Historic Photographs.

In June of 1977, Bob Marley and the Wailers released the album Exodus, which “is widely considered to be the album that propelled Marley to international stardom” (www.bobmarley.com). The tenth track on the album was the song “One Love/People Get Ready,” which shares a message of peace and unity. The song was recognized by the BBC as the song of the millennium in 2000.

The Pitts family remained in touch with “Momma B,” as Cedella Booker (nee Malcolm) was known, after Bob Marley’s death in 1981. In 1993 at a family gathering, Momma B asked Ibis and Genny to plan a musical tribute to Bob Marley in Wilmington. The resulting festival is known as the Peoples’ Festival.

Wilmington has hosted the Peoples’ Festival annually since 1994 in honor of Bob Marley, and in celebration of his contribution to Delaware’s cultural heritage. Ibis Pitts, friend of Bob Marley and co-founder of the People’s Festival, passed away on September 6, 2013. For more information on Marley’s relationship with the Pitt’s family, see the People’s Festival website at www.peoplesfestival.com and the Delaware Online article “Marley and Me” included as Attachment #4.

The renaming of Tatnall Playground as “One Love Park” will further serve to commemorate the lasting impact Marley left on Wilmington while sharing a message of peace, unity and hope with the community.

Photo courtesy www.bobmarley.com: June 2, 1977 at the Rainbow Theater - London, UK - Photo by Adrian Boot