GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Grand Rapids is honoring its first black mayor with a new statue, unveiled in a ceremony Wednesday evening.
Rev. Lyman Parks, Sr. was elected to the Grand Rapids City Commission in 1968 as the city's first African-American commissioner. In 1971 he was chosen by fellow commissioners to fill a mayoral vacancy, then later elected mayor where he served until 1976.
Parks died in 2009 at age 92.
The seven and a half foot tall bronze likeness of Parks is installed at 300 Monroe Avenue. It was funded by Peter Secchia as part of his Grand Rapids Community Legends Project.
Secchia says it is important for residents to remember the past, "You don't know who you are, what you can be if you don't know what you were. And if they know who is behind us, who made this wonderful city what it is, and the culture that's been built over the years, this is their chance."
The statue of Parks is the fifth of 25 statues planned by the Grand Rapids Community Legends Project.