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Dallas’ Opportunity Park renamed in honor of a local legend in the Black community

This story, originally published in The Dallas Morning News, is reprinted as part of a collaborative partnership between The Dallas Morning News and Texas Metro News. The partnership seeks to boost coverage of Dallas’ communities of color, particularly in southern Dallas.

Leo V. Chaney Jr ., who served as a council member from 1999 to 2007, honored
Opportunity Park
This 2007 file photo shows Opportunity Park in South Dallas which is being renamed to honor former council member Leo V. Chaney.(LAWRENCE JENKINS / 119590)

By Sriya Reddy

South Dallas’ Opportunity Park is being renamed by the City of Dallas to honor former Dallas City Council member Leo V. Chaney Jr., on Saturday morning.

Chaney served as a council member from 1999 to 2007. During his tenure, Chaney created the Martin Luther King Jr Community Court and the Wheatley Place Historic District. Chaney also Co-sponsored the Ferguson Road Initiative and memorialized South Dallas history through a public art project named the Walk of Fame. He died in 2013.

Former council member Diane Ragsdale is a speaker at the renaming ceremony. She said that Chaney was a friend of hers for many years, and she went to high school with him at James Madison High School.

“Leo was a servant,” Ragsdale said Friday. “He realized most importantly that systemic change was necessary to improve the living conditions of those he serves.”

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She said that she admires Chaney because he was committed to the “least of our brothers” and knew the impact of policy change. She is grateful to be a part of the renaming ceremony.

“It honors him and his legacy,” Ragsdale said. “It’s a tremendous honor to him and I am proud to be a part of the ceremony.”

Alongside Ragsdale, Chaney’s family, District 3 council member Casey Thomas, Dallas Park Board member Daniel Wood, and African American Museum president and CEO Dr. Harry Robinson were set to speak.

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