Green Pastures Park restoration supported

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 5:12 PM EDT
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ALLEGHANY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Where families once played, a No Swimming sign now stands.

Green Pastures was a gathering place for African-Americans for decades, one of just a handful of parks then available to them.

“Segregation was going on, and there weren’t any parks for African-Americans to attend,” explained Dr. Calvin McClinton, an advocate for the park’s restoration. “They couldn’t go or attend Douthat.”

Nonetheless, it became a place of joy and happiness for families.

“And so, for a long time, as a child, every holiday, Labor Day, July Fourth, the families drove out here, the church vans would come out and drop the kids, drop the people, the families off,” remembered Rev. Roslyn Thomas.

“Many of the churches used the park also for their baptisms,” McClinton said, “Because many churches, my church, Wrightsville Baptist, we did not have a baptismal pool.”

But in years since, it’s been closed and allowed to decay, leading to restoration efforts now so that families can not only enjoy the park, but learn about its origins and purpose.

“And it’s something that should be fought for. Not, um, I’m trying not to cry,” Thomas said. “It’s a place we as a people need to fight for because it’s a piece of our heritage.”

They were looking forward to state funding, announced in January, but now budget cuts because of COVID threaten the money. But these advocates are lobbying hard to get that help so that they can have a place to remember the history.

“It would be a wonderful opportunity to have a safe space where those kind of dialogues could happen,” McClinton said. “Right here in Virginia, in the Alleghany Highlands.”

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