JOPLIN, Mo. — Tonight’s Black History Month report comes from a lifelong resident of Joplin — who told us about the little-known history of Joplin’s Ewert Park.

“Everybody was welcome, all races were welcome, but it was designated, so to say, as the Black park. And therefore, to me, was a stigma that it might be bad. And I thought, no, there’s more people watching out for you there than you’re probably going to get out of anywhere else,” said Edith Triplett, Life-Long Resident of Joplin.

“Ewert Park” was established in 1924 – when a Kansas City attorney donated the land to the City of Joplin — specifically for Joplin’s Black community.

Located near the East Town District, the historically-known Black neighborhood, this park provided a safe and comfortable space for the Black community.

During that time, it was the only park that Black residents were allowed in.

For Edith Triplett, her childhood memories during the 60s at Ewert Park are filled with joy.

“That was the pool I grew up with, and that’s where I learned to swim. So, you know, it’s historical because it was here as long as I can remember, and as I said, the opening there and the pavilion and the playground, it’s just the place we hung out,” said Triplett.

Serita Eldridge, the president of the NAACP Joplin Branch spent her childhood on the same land in the 90s.

“Ms. Triplett talks about when it was the old pool, well, I talk about the old pool too because this is an upgraded pool from my time to now. So now, they have the toys over there and all that. So, I remember when my kids came here, that’s what was there,” said Serita Eldridge, President, NAACP Joplin Branch:

Triplett and Eldridge mention life-long friendships built from days at the park.

Their family reunions and birthday parties were held there, but something changed and the park was not the same anymore.

“When the City came in and wanted to take over more and to get the designation of being a Black park off of the stigma,” said Triplett, “Times change and people change, and it’s not that we didn’t support the park, it was just like, it was no longer ours. I mean, we shared all along, and still do, but it wasn’t ours, and I think that’s part of why things changed.”

And of course, the City of Joplin offers other recreational parks for everyone to enjoy…

“But it’s nothing like being at home here at Ewert. Not saying that we want to be segregated, but we just want to be able to have a good time. There are still situations out there where children are not talked to kindly. Children are looked down upon, and sometimes, their circumstances aren’t known,” said Triplett.