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‘Just show up and enjoy’: Black history walking tour planned for Friday, Rosa Parks's birthday

Posted at 7:14 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 19:41:48-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — This year’s World of Winter has been packed with numerous outdoor events, from snow-person building to food truck rallies to a scavenger hunt. Spokesperson Raul Alvarez said it’s all about getting people to enjoy the city outside.

Even though it’s been icy cold lately, Friday’s event will be a special one, he said.

“Tomorrow’s special because it’s kind of focused on not just Black history but also Rosa Parks. It’s her birthday,” Alvarez said during an interview in front of her statue on Breonna Taylor Way on Thursday. “So, literally she’s going to have the tour meet at Rosa Parks in front of the [Grand Rapids African American Museum], it’ll end there, and she just walks them through the history of Grand Rapids, specific to Black history.”

The guided tour is hosted by Grand Rapids Running Tours. It’ll begin at 5 p.m. and will take attendees — the first 25 to arrive — on a 2.5-mile trek around the downtown area that’ll include many stops.

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“Well, I can’t give everything away. But, you know, she’s going to start with Rosa Parks, obviously the statue, and talk about that, the significance,” Alvarez said. “There’s some history at the Pantlind Hotel, related to Black history. Some history with Lucious Lyons that she’s going to tie to Black history.”

The Pantlind, which is now the Grand Amway Hotel downtown, was a place of employment for many Black people back in the 1940s. The tour will focus on Black life and culture from 1826 to today.

Alvarez said Friday evening it will be cold so people should dress warm. However, despite the cold temperatures, he said it’ll be worth it.

“The next time you walk by and drive by one of these landmarks, these touch points or these statutes, they’ll actually have some history behind it as to how that ties back to the rich history of Grand Rapids,” he said. “[It’s] free. First 25. First come, first served. No registration. Just show up and enjoy.”

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