Dr. Harry Bonner’s name is associated with community activism and leadership and with a deep love and concern for area children. On Sunday, Albion city councilwoman, precinct 2, Lenn Reid, arranged a naming ceremony of the new Holland Park pavilion in his name.
“I am the coordinator for the Holland Park legacy through Dr. Ruth Holland Scott. My life has come full circle,” Bonner said.
Bonner shared how the Holland Park event affected him. “A lifetime honor that really comes full cycle. A place where I played basketball as a youth, coached basketball as an adult, developed and ran the W.K. Kellogg Foundation programs, Black family reunion with hometown hero-and Albion College Board of Trustees member Dr. Daniel Boggan Jr., ran violence prevention programs there in partnership with the City of Albion Recreation Department program, lived across the street from the new pavilion on the corner of Washington Street and Dalrymple St where the Bethel Baptist parking lot is. I am the coordinator for the Holland Park legacy through Dr. Ruth Holland Scott. My life has come full circle,” Bonner said.
The naming event was well attended and very successful. “People just started arriving. I would say anywhere from 50 to 70 people, and Harry was there. Gwen Tabb was on the one that MC’d the program. Some of Harry’s Kids were there. Akaiia Ridley did his bio. There were so many people that came to say things about him. We talked about the park. We talked about Harry, and they told jokes about Harry and things they did,” Reid said. Some of those attending or speaking were former Albion City Manager Sheryl Mitchell, Albion City Manager Haley Snyder, Albion College President Dr. Mathew Johnson, Pastor Al Henson, and Manager of the City of Homer and Chair of Calhoun County Board of Commissioners.
Many of the children Bonner mentored, or godchildren as they are known, attended the naming ceremony along with his family. “A lot of my godchildren were there. They came from Lansing and Detroit. My great-niece and her husband came from Dallas, Texas, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and his sis-in-law and nieces from Albion, Battle Creek, and Jackson were all there. Mayor Garcia-Snyder and council person Jackson attended. Art Kale, State Senator Bizon, Larry Maynard Jr., and Carol Maynard were there also, so many others. A beautiful day,” Bonner said.
“I’m proud to learn from one of if not the greatest mentor this town has ever seen.”
– Moe Barry
Local producer and community activist Moe Barry shared that much of his success was due to Harry Bonner’s mentoring and offering him work. Barry said, “It was a well-deserved dedication. Dr. Harry J. Bonner Sr. has done so much for the children as well as the community of Albion. It’s truly an honor for me to walk in the shadow of so much wisdom. At a time in my life when it seemed only the children had an interest in being around and listening to me. He saw the value in that and has taken on yet another godson, and I’m proud to learn from one of if not the greatest mentor this town has ever seen.”
One of the biggest contributions he made to my life was the example of paying it forward. Harry Bonner and Sherry Grice put us up on their shoulders and provided youth like me a voice, and now as adults, we can speak out.
– Marquetta Frost
Marquetta Frost, Albion, attributes much of her civic engagement to Bonner and has known him since 4th grade. She would participate in his after-school basketball programs, and because of meeting Bonner, she was able to foster her interest in singing. “It’s an honor to be able to sing “Wind Beneath My Wings” for him at the event. He had me sing that over 20 years ago at a youth award ceremony. One of the biggest contributions he made to my life was the example of paying it forward. Harry Bonner and Sherry Grice put us up on their shoulders and provided youth like me a voice, and now as adults, we can speak out.
“Harry has been a guide to me and many of my staff to learn about the community. When Lenn told me the pavilion would be named for Harry we were super excited about that. We were happy to respond to Lenn’s request to help to build this pavilion.”
- Dr. Mathew Johnson, President Albion College
Reid’s involvement with improving Holland Park came about because of Bonner, and that is why she wanted to name the large pavilion after him. She said, “When he asked me for the third time to work on the park, he told me about Mr. Holland and how he felt that park should be named after Mr. Holland and all that Mr. Holland had done to desegregate the children in the schools and to try to get Albion to move forward instead of staying backwards. I thought to myself he could try and get this in his own name because he doing things that were very positive. He was working with a program with kids and was doing very, very well, and everybody was talking about him. But instead, he was building up Mr. Holland and was saying about much we needed to recognize the good things he had done and to get the park fixed up to honor him, and I said to myself, now this is a man who wants to honor someone else and not himself. So when it came down to picking someone to name the pavilion after, I said he is the perfect one to name it after because he deserves it.”
The name plaques will be hung down from both sides of Holland Park’s large pavilion soon.
More about the Holland Park Pavilion Dedication
This story is reprinted with permission from The Recorder.
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