NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nestled in North Nashville sits the Parkwood Community Club, a piece of land that dates back to the 1970s. It was solidified in history by being the only known minority facility in Tennessee, and at the time, only one of five in the nation.
The park is less about what you see and more about the people who make it unique.
“For the last, I say, 26, 28 years, it’s been my life,” said Thurman Bryant, who serves as the Parkwood Board chair.
That life was spent on the field, even when African Americans weren’t allowed on it.
“As a minority, we couldn’t play in this park at one time. It got where they joined together and our kids needed somewhere to go play because back in the late ’70s, they stopped building baseball parks into the public schools, in minority schools,” described Bryant.
Parkwood’s history dates back to 1966. It was a small piece of land, owned by Fisk University, that made a big difference in the lives of those who lived there. If you need reminding, just ask Coach Bryant.
“One year I was ready to quit, and I went to a basketball game. I sat down in the gym and this little child sit beside me and said, ‘Coach’, and I didn’t know her. She said, ‘Thank you for letting me play baseball at the park.’ She said, ‘Are we going to have a team next year?’ I said, ‘Yes baby, God knows how to get me,'” he recalled.
However, the field isn’t done making kids’ dreams come true.
On Friday, Aug. 11, Habitat for Humanity in the Greater Nashville region announced a community revitalization in North Nashville to renovate the historic park.
“They have such a great story. They have everything from racial integration in the 70s to being the only minority-owned board in the 80s. It’s just such an important piece of Nashville’s baseball lore, of Nashville’s coming together as a city” said Sherry Stinson with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville.
The project will help establish a 59-acre Metro Park. In addition, the organization plans on building 26 affordable Habitat homes.
“Everybody knows how unaffordable Nashville is becoming, and it’s for the working people. Wages have gone up 15% and housing has gone up to 104%, so there’s this gap between what people can afford that are working in this city, and they’re the people that made this city great,” Stinson explained.
The project is more than just cleaning up a few fields. According to Stinson, in Metro Nashville, more than 100 elementary and middle schools do not offer baseball or softball programs due to a lack of fields. Now, community members hope to change that, even by a little.
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“We truly believe that every kid deserves the opportunity to play baseball and play baseball on good fields,” said Adam English, general manager for the Nashville Sounds. “Kids fall in love with baseball when they’re 6, 7, 8 years old, and so to help generate that next generation of baseball fans in Nashville is really important to us.”
Bryant easily called the project a “miracle,” thinking about everything the field has been through, as well as the future for the next generation of children who will have the opportunity to play on it.
Officials said Airbnb was the first major donor for the project, donating $100,000 towards it and opening the door for others to support.
At Airbnb, we are committed to giving back to the communities our Hosts call home. That is why we are proud to support the Parkwood Community Club project and the affordable housing that, as part of this initiative, will help improve the future of this important North Nashville community and its residents. We are honored to play a small part in the Parkwood story and can’t wait to see the first pitch soon!Viviana Jordan, Head of U.S. Southeast Policy for Airbnb
Major League Baseball and the Players (MLB-MLBPA), along with Morgan Wallen’s Foundation, have also donated $1 million. In total, $1.7 million has been raised so far, out of the $3.3 million needed to complete the project.