Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Burg Blog: 2 Lives, 2 Streets

Harrisburg City Council in session this week

Not every Harrisburg City Council meeting has fireworks.

This past week, for instance, the legislative session lasted less than a half-hour, as the agenda was small, and the few items on it were non-controversial or sent into committee for later discussion.

However, there were two resolutions, passed unanimously, that I feel should be noted. Both memorialized a community member, recently deceased, whose lives now will be recognized on the streets where they lived.

They led very different lives, and, as well, had very different fates.

The first resolution honored Dennis Green, who, as a child, lived with his family on the 1100-block of Walnut Street. He would go on to star as a halfback at the University of Iowa.

Green never played in the NFL, but later worked his way up the football coaching ranks, first on the college then the professional level. In 1992, he became the head coach for the Minnesota Vikings, becoming just the second African American head coach in the league. He coached the Vikings for an impressive 10 years, then spent several more with the Arizona Cardinals and as an ESPN analyst.

He died last July, more than a decade after retiring from football.

“Mr. Green was a phenomenal resident of the city of Harrisburg,” said Councilman Westburn Majors. “Mr. Green would come back to Harrisburg and helped to guide our athletes.”

The second resolution honored a woman whose impact remained more local to Harrisburg but was profound nonetheless.

Jacqueline Black was a lifelong city resident, spending some four decades in her house on the 300-block of Emerald Street, where she raised a family. Then, last June, tragedy struck.

Her house caught fire, and she died in the blaze, but not before helping three of her grandchildren escape out of a second-floor window. Without her action, those children may have perished, as well.

“Ms. Black was my friend, and she made an impact as a strong matriarch,” said Council President Wanda Williams. “She was a special angel.”

To honor Green, council passed a resolution recognizing the 1100 to 1300 blocks of Walnut Street as “Dennis Green Way.”

To honor Black, council passed a resolution recognizing the 300-block of Emerald Street as “Jacqueline Black Way.”

The streets will retain their official, existing names, but also will be designated by their new names.

Green and Black were two Harrisburg natives who impacted many over the course of their lives, whether on the national stage or the local one. They now will be honored on the streets where they lived.

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