At the groundbreaking ceremony, Florence Teague held a shovel, looked at Mayor Adrian Fenty standing to her left and thought, "Thank God it's finally happening." Teague and her husband Ivory dug into the earth today and helped the mayor break ground for Diamond Teague Park in honor of her murdered son.
The new park will link Nationals Park to the Anacostia River when it's completed in mid-April. It will sit near First Street and Potomac Avenue SE, feature a 250-foot pier for commercial vehicles such as water taxis and a walk that will connect it to 20-mile network of waterpark trails, city officials said.
Diamond was shot in 2003 while sitting on his porch with a friend on a calm October night. Assailants stepped up for no apparent reason, exchanged some words, fired a gun and ran. Florence Teague remembered hearing a loud pop and running outside to find her son. His death devastated the Teagues. He was 19.
The mayor remembered Diamond in his remarks, recalling how he dedicated his life to preserving the Anacostia River as a member of the Earth Conservation Corps. The youngster helped clean trash from the riverside.
"He kept a journal," Florence Teague said of her son. In it he wrote about the corps, saying that joining it seemed like the worse day of his life. Later he changed that, writing that it was the best day.
"I'm so glad he loved that work, cleaning up along the river," she said.
Two years ago, Fenty stepped up to the porch where Diamond was shot and knocked on Ivory and Florence Teague's door during his door-to-door mayoral campaign. Naturally boisterous, gregarious and full of life, the woman of the house startled him with her greeting: "Mr. Fenty, hold on! You're just the one I want to see!"
Fenty stood there longer than he did at other houses. "I had to tell him about my son, Diamond. I showed him all the pictures of Diamond. I summed his story up in three minutes." He played the drums, he went to church, he played basketball, he spoke at Earth Day. Fenty walked away impressed.
At the groundbreaking, it showed. "This park will be a fitting tribute to his legacy and it will mark our committment as a city to carry on his work," Fenty said.
"This is showing every person -- black, white, whatever -- that everyone who lives in Anacostia is not a thug, is not a gangbanger," Florence Teague said. "Diamond was not a boastful person. When he spoke at Earth Day in '02, he came home and said, 'Ma, I met the mayor today, and went up the steps.'"
-- Darryl Fears