The granddaughter of a prominent Black businessman from Baltimore is ensuring that his legacy is kept alive. Rosalie Johnson—the granddaughter of Henry G. Parks Jr.—is bringing Parks’ story to the forefront to illustrate how his journey is a part of the fabric of the city’s history, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Parks—the founder of Parks Sausage Company—broke barriers as an entrepreneur, the news outlet writes. At one point, his company was one of the country’s largest Black-owned businesses. Parks Sausage was created in 1951 and grew from $119,000 in revenue when it was founded to $14 million in sales when it was sold in 1977. It became the first Black-owned business to sell stock to the greater public and was traded at the New York Stock Exchange. Parks was also a fierce advocate for social justice and served as a Baltimore City Council Member for a few years. He also worked with organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League.
Although he accomplished a lot over the course of his career, his story has gone unsung and Johnson is looking to change that. Parks is often confused with civil rights leader and businessman Raymond V. Haysbert Sr. which also was a factor in the masking of his legacy.
Johnson, 51, created the Henry G. Parks Foundation. Through the foundation she is working with the Maryland Stadium Authority to have a plaque about Parks featured at the M&T Bank Stadium which stands a few blocks away from where one of his factories stood. She’s also working on penning a biography about Parks. “My projects are all around preserving his legacy and keeping his name known as a historical figure,” she told the news outlet. “There’s nothing for Henry Parks right now. That’s part of the problem that I’m trying to address.” Parks passed away in 1989 at the age of 72. His legacy deserves more recognition.