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Gov. Northam signs stewardship agreement, opens Green Pastures park

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 8:47 PM EDT
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ALLEGHANY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - When Clifton Forge Mayor Pam Marshall stood next to Governor Ralph Northam and cut the ribbon Friday, ceremonially opening Green Pastures park, she was in a place she never expected.

“Never crossed my mind,” Marshall said, “that this coming down to the park that one day and listening to Dr. Calvin McClintock give the history, I could not foresee this day.”

Technically, the governor was here to sign a shared stewardship agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, formalizing the relationship of state and federal agencies working in the parks. But all anyone wanted to talk about was Green Pastures.

“To reopen this and make it part of Douthat State Park and just have a place where everybody, and I stress everybody, can come and enjoy our great outdoors, that’s what our intentions are,” Gov. Northam said.

Everybody, stressed because many here remember a day when they couldn’t go to Douthat because of the color of their skin.

Green Pastures, cleared in the 1930s to provide African Americans a place to come, carries a unique place in the park system.

“Just talking to some of the folks that remember being here as children and young adults,” Northam mused, “and then it went into disrepair and no one could use it.”

“It means we had a part of our history restored today,” said Marshall. “Not only a restoring of history, but more a uniting. A uniting with state, uniting with all the various entities of local governments. It’s not all about the African experience anymore, and I’m happy about that.”

Because, as the work here continues beyond the ball fields where Mayor Marshall remembers playing with her friends of all races, she looks forward to all families enjoying the Green Pastures again.

“I can hope that we return,” she said.

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