When Marie Cowser moved to Old Fourth Ward in 1979, the neighborhood that had given birth to Martin Luther King Jr. was already a shell of its former self. But where most people saw despair and desolation, Cowser saw potential.
“I just fell in love with it,” she recalled six years ago in a StoryCorps interview with Atlanta journalist and friend Maynard Eaton. “And I think to be in love with anything is to get entrenched with it.”
Over the next 20 years, Cowser dug in so deep that Old Fourth Ward became her all-consuming passion. As a tireless community activist, she worked there. As a single mother, she raised her daughter there. And in 2009, when she died of cancer at 49, she left behind a foundation for the neighborhood to build a future upon — one that hinged on development without displacement and investing in people in addition to infrastructure.
The community she called home will dedicate a neighborhood park on the corner of Auburn Avenue and Randolph Street in her memory this June. As part of Creative Loafing’s inaugural Do Good Campaign — a series of grassroots partnerships with various neighborhoods and nonprofits throughout the city to help them raise funds for projects they might not have the resources for otherwise — the Atlanta-based news organization is partnering with the Old Fourth Ward’s nonprofit Historic District Development Corporation to raise $2,500 to help facilitate the memorial park. Do Good sponsor the Home Depot Foundation will match donations dollar for dollar up to $2,500.
The resulting $5,000 will enable the HDDC to refurbish the park’s future site. It’ll mark the culmination of the neighborhood’s quest to honor one of its own. But the commemoration of Marie Cowser Memorial Park will also be about preserving the spirit of someone who fought to salvage the soul of a community that was all but forgotten.
Read more about this project on CLATL.com: http://clatl.com/atlanta/help-dedicate-an-o4w-park-to-late-community-activist-marie-cowser/Content?oid=7853494