Barbara Higgins Park 1352 SE 2nd Street, Gainesville, Florida 32601

Barbara Higgins Park, dedicated Saturday, June 8, 2019

The City of Gainesville's Mayor, Lauren Poe, proclaimed Saturday, June 8, 2019 as Barbara Higgins Day; at the dedication Commissioner Gigi Simmons presented the proclamation to the community.

At ceremony, many took part in the celebration. Special thanks to Michelle Park, assistant director, Wild Spaces & Public Places; Corey Harris, executive director of Gainesville Neighborhood Housing and Development Corporation; Jordon Lucas, manager for Gainesville Lowe’s; Mr. Albert E. White, former Gainesville Arts and Parks Foundation founding board member; Reverend Adrian S. Taylor, pastor, Springhill Church; Commissioner Gigi Simmons for presenting the Barbara Higgins Day Proclamation; Mrs. Yvonne Parham, daughter of Barbara Higgins; Mr. Mac McDowell, Mrs. Higgins son in law; Mr. J. K. “Buddy” Irby who served as the Alachua County supervisor of elections for 16 years; Mr. Rodney Davis , Barbara Higgins Scholarship Fund and Golf Tournament; Ms. Cynthia Cooper president of current Sugarhill Neighborhood Association; Ms. Janice Henry a Higgins family member; Ms. June Littler former member of the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights; and Ms. Kim A. Barton, current supervisor of elections for Alachua County.

Barbara L. Higgins was an influential woman who believed her purpose was to serve others — she was her “brothers’ and sisters’ keeper.”

In 1947, as a graduate of Bethune-Cookman University, Higgins lived the school motto “Enter to Learn—Depart to Serve” as she chose to return home and become a civil rights activist and community advocate with local, state and national impact, for more than 40 years. An ever-present theme throughout her life was “Obtain an education, serve others and follow the principles of God.”

Higgins worked tirelessly to make Gainesville a better community for all, including her dedicated years of service at Springhill Baptist Church.

Springhill Baptist Church appreciation event for Women's Home Mission member

She initiated an energetic campaign to register disenfranchised voters following the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and was personally committed to registering thousands of voters throughout her 16 years as Deputy Supervisor of Elections. Higgins also served as Recording Secretary of the Alachua County NAACP for 20 years.


She was a charter member of Voters for Equal Rights, a member of Gainesville’s Bi-Racial Committee and served as the first Black President of Gainesville Women for Equal Rights.

Monthly meeting of Gainesville Women for Equal Rights

As an active board member of the Alachua County Housing Authority for 22 years, Higgins fought for better housing for the poor and to improve the conditions of the Sugarhill neighborhood.

Dedicated to her community, Higgins served as a member of the Gainesville Police Department’s Chief of Police Advisory Board, the Black-on-Black Crime Task Force, Partners Against Crime, Police Advisory Commission and Reichert House Youth Academy program, among many others. She was the recipient of the Gainesville Police Department’s Police Support of the Decade and Leadership and Achievement Award.

With Congressman William Gray NAACP Local Banquet Speaker, 1985

During her lifetime of service, Higgins gained the admiration of many and received numerous honors and awards throughout her life, including letters of commendation from President Reagan and Governors Graham and Chiles.

With Senator Lawton Chiles, 1986

She was honored with the establishment of a scholarship in her name to be awarded to minority students enrolled at Santa Fe College who were living in properties managed by the housing authority.

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Baby Barbara; July 4th of July Walk for Voter Registration, on University Avenue, with J. K. “Buddy” Irby and Rosa Williams; Recording Secretary of the Alachua County NAACP with County Commissioner and State Representative Sid Martin; In Tallahassee with Senator Buddy McKay.
On Friday, June 7, as part of NeighborWorks Week (June 3-7), volunteers cleaned and painted the pavilion and playground equipment and installed new park benches and picnic tables. NeighborWorks Week is an annual national event for which local organizations mobilize tens of thousands of volunteers in a week for neighborhood change and awareness.

The dedication is made possible through the support of the Neighborhood Housing & Development Corporation, Lowe’s Home Improvement, the Wild Spaces & Public Places Program, the Springhill Church and the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department.

Check out some of the videos and read from University of Florida's Oral History Project, an oral interview in 1992.

Created By
City of Gainesville Communications Department


Images provided courtesy of Yvonne Parham, Daughter of Barbara Higgins and her family.

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