It’s been a busy year for Bob Marley – between his avatar forming spontaneously on a frozen lake in the U.K., and the recent ‘Giant’ exhibit at the Known Gallery in Los Angeles, he’s managed to stay more active than a lot of rock stars that don’t have the distinct disadvantage of being dead. Now, his one-time hometown in the U.S. has decided to show him some love as well.
Back in February, just a few weeks after Toronto Mayor and cocaine enthusiast Rob Ford declared Bob Marley’s birthday an official holiday, Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory got to work on proposing an ordinance that would change the name of the Tatnall playground to ‘One Love Park’. It took Gregory about 6 weeks to get draw up the proposal, which he brought before the board on Thursday evening for a vote.
“The lyrics of One Love and what the song has come to mean to people in the years since Bob Marley composed it is what I hope to capture by renaming the park,” said Gregory. “We all need a reminder from time to time about the importance of love in our hearts for our children and for each other. I want children who play in [One] Love Park to ask why it was given that name, and accept their responsibility to make this a better city and world.”
The council voted unanimously, in favor of the name change.
In 1962, Bob Marley had already recorded a few songs with The Wailing Wailers at the age of 17, when he moved with his mother, Cedilla Malcolm, and family from Kingston, Jamaica, to Wilmington, Delaware. They moved into a rowhouse at 2311 Tatnall St., less than a block away from where One Love Park stands today.
While Marley did head back to Kingston shortly after, to study with his mentor Joe Higgs and record ‘Simmer Down’ with the Wailing Wailers, he came back to Wilmington in 1966. Marley held down jobs at the nearby Chrysler plant, and then later at Du Pont labs, while his mother opened a Jamaican music shop on nearby Market Street.
Bob Marley’s son Stephen was born in Wilmington in 1972, and the reggae star lived there off and on with his family throughout the rest of his life.
In addition to the newly renamed park, Wilmington is getting ready to kick off their 20th-annual People’s Festival, an annual musical tribute to Bob Marley, which they began hosting in 1984.