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Moody Park Activator – Elizabeth Brown

Group of people at the event
By Darien Yaeger

About Moody Park

In 1982, The County Board of Supervisors in the city of Milwaukee renamed a park in the Amani Community neighborhood to Moody Park, after Calvin C Moody. Moody became one of the first African American’s to earn the title of detective in 1949 and also was a Milwaukee Police Officer for 25 years. After his law enforcement career ended, he wore many other hats becoming the Director of the Northside YMCA, a Milwaukee County Supervisor, and also served as a board member of the NAACP.  

Located near 22nd and Burleigh, Moody Park has historically been a place where the Amani neighborhood Community has come together; whether that be for basketball tournaments, cookouts, or events put on by local neighborhood groups. However, over the past few years the park has also seen its share of hard times. According to the Milwaukee Police department, the park experienced a rise in fights breaking out in the summer of 2019,  which in turn caused  an upsurge in the police presence needed there. 

Quanita “Tay” Jackson was innocently shot and killed in Moody Park.  This occurred just one day after she  played a key role in organizing a basketball tournament at the park, in coordination with  Program the Parks MKE,  which is a youth programming initiative that creates events targeted towards children in an effort to promote peace. 

These past incidents have helped fuel a narrative that Moody Park is an area that attracts trouble.  But local community leaders and residents say that narrative is incorrectly portrayed, and they are working to change it daily. 

Helping Where She Can

One of those leaders is Elizabeth Brown, a 2nd generation Milwaukee native who has been living in the city for nearly 48 years. 

Brown, who prefers to be called Ms. Elizabeth,  lives just 2 blocks from Moody park and is well known in the community for always having an open door and being willing to help wherever,  and whomever she can. 

“My house is pretty much the house that everyone comes to,” she said. “Everybody calls me to help with this or that; I took part in assisting/raising a lot of children (in the community).”

In 2018 she began volunteering with the Children’s Outing Association Youth and Family Center Program. It was during this time that she was convinced to run for Chairperson of Moody Park, a position she won, and  has now held for 3 years.  

The Moody Park Project

As Chairperson she’s been working on the Moody Park Project in coordination with Activate MKE, which is a community driven organization that strives to develop the leaders of tomorrow through sport and art, by repainting basketball courts and creating  safe spaces for those future leaders to flourish. 

The Moody Park Project, which was an idea that began to brew after the shooting of 20 year old community activist  Quanita  “Tay” Jackson, will see all 3 basketball courts in the park repainted by lead artist Jamahl Turner. The redesign of the court will be done to not only honor Jackson’s legacy of service to her community, but also to encourage and inspire the next upcoming generation of leaders.

“This was very tragic what happened to her,” said Ms. Elizabeth, referencing the passing of Tay Jackson.  “She was a very sweet lady.  Her tragedy has bought a lot of people together; her families tragedy has bought a lot of people together.”

“It did open the door for a lot of conversation on bringing art to the community, which in turn involves more youth,” she continued.  And once we get the youth, we don’t have far to go.”

In her role as Chairperson of the park, Ms. Elizabeth has been working to ensure the community has a strong voice at the table throughout the planning of the project and  also has continually kept programming going in the area to ensure the park is a  safe space that families can enjoy. 

“I just want to see Amani and Moody park re-elevated through color and design,” said Ms. Elizabeth. “This community was once great and we’re revitalizing it and starting that beautification process again.” 

The unveiling of the Moody Park community court project is planned to be held on July 17 in a grand opening event with Milwaukee County Parks and community partners.

“This soil, (Moody Park) is not barren,” said Ms. Elizabeth.  There is a lot of life here, you just have to know how to elevate it and make it shine.”