Located in the Woodlawn Community Area, Arnita Boswell Playground is 0.33 acres and is an ideal location for families to spend a portion of their day relaxing and enjoying the outdoors. This park contains a playground with swings, slides, and climbing apparatus.
Arnita Young Boswell Park lies in the south side Woodlawn neighborhood, a once-thriving community that sprang to life with the construction of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in nearby Jackson Park. By 1940, the Woodlawn neighborhood had begun to deteriorate. The downward slide continued through the late 1960s, when the neighborhood became a Mid-South Model Cities Target Area for urban renewal efforts. About the same time, the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Woodlawn Urban Progress Center improved two adjacent vacant lots on University Avenue with a gravel-surfaced playground. The Chicago Park District identified the site for park development in 1968. In 1969, the Chicago Park District acquired the property with funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A few years later, the Park District named the park Chokeberry Park. The Park District soon replaced the gravel-surfaced playground with two basketball courts, a volleyball court, playground equipment, and a shelter house. A soft surface playground was added in 1990.
Known previously as Chokeberry Park, the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners renamed the site in 2004 as part of an initiative to recognize the achievements of significant Chicago women. Arnita Young Boswell (1920 – 2002) was an accomplished social worker, educator, and activist. Born in Detroit and raised in Kentucky, Arnita was the daughter of Whitney M. Young, Sr., president of the Lincoln Institute and Laura Ray Young, one of the nation’s first African-American postmasters. Arnita worked as a professor of social work at the University of Chicago from 1961 to 1980, and later became director of social services for special needs children at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also served as the director of Family Resources Center at the Robert Taylor Homes and was the first national director for project Head Start and for the social workers of the Chicago Public Schools. Along with her renowned brother, Whitney Young, Jr., Arnita Young Boswell played an important role in America’s Civil Rights Movement. When Rev. Martin Luther King led a major civil rights march in Chicago in 1966, Young Boswell directed the women’s division of the demonstration. She founded Chicago’s League of Black Women and the National Hook-up of Black Women. She also served on the Women’s Board of the Chicago Urban League. Dr. Arnita Young Boswell worked from an office at 5217 S. University, approximately two miles from the park.