Civil rights legend returns to Reno for one night only

Pat Baker on Barbwire.TV, Friday, June 6, 2008, 2:00 p.m. PDT



NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch 1112, (775) 322-2992
ANDREW BARBANO (775) 786-1455

Non-cancellable ticket reservations:

Civil rights legend returns to Reno this Saturday, 40 years after sparking construction of Pat Baker Park memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Charles Kuralt On the Road historic video will be a highlight of the evening

RENO – Civil rights legend Pat Shannon (formerly Baker) returns to Reno this Saturday to present living history to the Reno-Sparks NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet.

Pat Shannon Baker, center, during the "Instant Park" construction in Reno, July-1968.

The former Pat Baker spearheaded the construction of a 1968 "instant park" in Reno. She was motivated by the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., earlier that year.

By using her position as editor of Sierra Pacific Power Company's in-house newspaper, she was able to rally broad community support.

"SPP executive Jim Sale narrowed the time frame to a weekend," she remembers.

"Leroy Badie, a resident in the park area, signed on as chairman of the action group. Preparation for the park took two months. The instant park became the Pat Baker Park at the close of a marathon three-day building spree," she notes.

"Contractors, nurserymen, an architect, residents from all over Reno, men from the National Guard, boys and girls labored around the clock for free," Shannon recalls.

"Work began at 7:35 a.m. on Friday morning, July 17, 1968. It was completed Sunday afternoon, July 19," she added.

Shannon is bringing a boxfull of park construction memorabilia to donate to the Nevada Historical Society.

She will also present a five-minute video anchored by the late CBS legend Charles Kuralt, who came to Reno to chronicle the event for national television. She will also give an interview for the University of Nevada oral history project.

The park area fell on rough times in later years. In response to community concerns, the City of Reno recently acquired several storefront buildings which were attracting crime and bulldozed them. A celebration of the park area's rebirth will be held in August, led by a onetime skinny teenager whom Kuralt filmed working on the construction. Lonnie Feemster went on to a 27-year career at SPP, is now a successful realtor and twice past-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP.

The Freedom Fund Banquet takes place this Saturday, June 7, at the Atlantis Casino-Resort-Spa Convention Center in Reno. A no-host bar opens at 6:00 p.m. with dinner at 7:00 p.m.

Tickets are $50 each and a limited number are still available. Immediate reservations are required and may be made by e-mailing

Name, U.S. Postal Service mailing address, and day/night phone numbers must be included. At this late date with seating limited, all reservations are non-cancellable and those not using theirs will be billed.

Local oldtimers are encouraged to submit photos, news stories and any memories of the Pat Baker Park construction to the NAACP for potential inclusion in a commemorative booklet which will be distributed at the celebration of the park area renovation in August. They may be mailed to P.O. Box 10034, Reno, NV 89510.

Pat Shannon majored in journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. She worked as a copywriter at the Tyson-Curtis Advertising Agency from 1962 to 1968, served as promotion director at Carson Mall in 1966, Sierra Pacific Power assistant director of public relations, 1967-1968, and public information officer for the Nevada Employment Security Department, 1968-1970.

She currently lives in Montana. A sister resides in Fallon and a daughter in Reno.

The Freedom Fund Banquet is the civil rights organization's principal fundraising event. This year's theme is "Power of the Vote," which will be the subject of the keynote address by California NAACP official Alice A. Huffman.

Complete information about tickets and corporate tables may be obtained at The website also has photos showing the construction and renovation of Pat Baker Park and the complete agenda for the evening.

Pat Shannon at the Charles Kuralt Memorial Concert held at the Twin Bridges, Montana, schoolhouse

August, 2005


Pat Shannon feeding deer in the Montana winter (December, 2006).


Breaking News: Matriarch of Pat Baker Park returns 40 years later
Will attend Freedom Fund event and present historic film of 1968 tribute to Dr. King

Daily Sparks Tribune / 6-1-2008


Reno-Sparks NAACP 63rd Annual Freedom Fund Banquet
Power of the Vote
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Atlantis Casino-Resort-Spa Convention Center, Reno

No Host bar 6:00 p.m. - Dinner 7:00 p.m.
Atlantis Casino Resort Spa Convention Center
Tickets $50
No-Host Bar/Reception 6:00 pm
Dinner 7:00 pm

For more information, please contact
Banquet Chair: Gloria Bennett-Jackson (775) 425-3009
Ticket Chair: Dolores Feemster (775) 323-3677

The Evening's Agenda

Profile of Keynote Speaker Alice A. Huffman

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NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch No. 1112

Lucille Adin, President
Rose Gordon, First VP, Youth Co-chair
Larry Wilson, Second VP, Labor & Industry Chair
Rev. Onie Cooper, Third VP
Janet West, Secretary
Patricia Wilson, Treasurer

P.O. Box 7757
Reno, NV 89510
Phone (775) 322-2992
Fax (775) 322-9909


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