Black lawyer, civil rights activist Sully Jaymes honored with Springfield historical marker

A new park and historical marker in Springfield celebrates the life of Sully Jaymes, a African American lawyer in Springfield during the first half of the 20th century and an equal rights activist.

The marker is located at the Sully Jaymes park in the 1600 block of Woodward Avenue. The park is part of a south side neighborhood redevelopment project led by Conscious Connect CDC. The organization acquired two vacant properties from the Clark County Land Bank which they turned into a community park.

Sully Jaymes was an African American lawyer and tireless activist for equal rights in Springfield during the first half of the twentieth century. Born on March 30 sometime between 1875-1880, he graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1901. By 1903, he opened a Black-owned law practice at 17-1/2 Main Street in Springfield. Working primarily with the city’s Black residents, Jaymes offered his services free of charge if clients were unable to pay. He was a long-time member of North Street A.M.E. Church. Jaymes served on the first Board of Directors of the Center Street YMCA (a safe-haven for young Black people), on the Board of Trustees at Wilberforce University, and as a Grand Chancellor of Ohio for the Grand Lodge, Knights of Pythias. 
During his distinguished legal career in Springfield, Jaymes held briefs in cases such as that of Richard Dixon, the lynching victim of Springfield’s 1904 race riot, and that of several African Americans indicted in the 1906 and 1921 race riots. He played a prominent role during tense community discussions around school segregation at Fulton Elementary School. Jaymes helped lead the unsuccessful effort to stop the 1921 screening of Birth of a Nation at Springfield’s Memorial Hall. When Grace Bayless, a white woman accused of first-degree murder and facing the death penalty, requested Jaymes be appointed her defense attorney, the judge making the appointment in 1937 stated, “The Court considers this request as a tribute to your ability and influence before our courts and juries.”
Sully Jaymes died on 20 January 1950.


Dr. Karlos Marshall, co-founder of Conscious Connect CDC, said that as a Woodward resident he remembered when dilapidated houses sat on both of the lots that make up the newly formed park – and stifled the hopes, dreams and aspirations of residents that passed by, before the lots were acquired through the Land Bank.




“This park is a nearly $100,000 investment into this south side neighborhood. And I would not want to call anywhere else home, because neighbors of the 1600 block of Woodward Avenue, they simply do not make ‘em like you anymore,” Marshall told the crowd.

Conscious Connect CDC is dedicated to re-imagining and redefining underutilized spaces for the purposes of education, culture, peace and health, so that zip codes do not define the success of children and families.

A block party in a south side neighborhood in Springfield kicked off the dedication ceremony for the marker and new park.