Black History Month: Pearl Street Park - The center of Black civic life in Charlotte

Black History Month: Pearl Street Park - The center of Black civic life in Charlotte

BE Connect Groups and Latinxs Connect ask you to Embrace Black Culture during Black History Month.

During this Black History Month, BE Connect and Latinxs Connect Groups will focus on both People and Community. There are many Black historical locations that may be within a couple of miles of where you live.

Throughout the month, several Albemarle employees will be sharing the history of some of those areas and what it means to them.

We would like for you to also participate this month and Embrace Black Culture actively. We urge everyone to visit some of those locations.

BE Connect Groups and Lantixs Connect ask you to Embrace Black Culture during Black History Month. During this month, BE Connect and Latinx Connect will focus on both People and Community. There are many black historical locations that may be within a couple of miles of where you live. Our employee's will be sharing the history of some of those areas and what it means to them.

We would like for you to participate this month and Embrace Black Culture actively. We urge everyone to visit some of those locations and provide us with your comments, pictures, and selfies.


Places like Pearl Street Park in Charlotte, North Carolina, have hidden stories about Black culture we need to rediscover. Albemarle's Bernard Jamison Jr. knows from experience the impact this park had on Black Charlotteans from the 1940s to the present.

"My grandmother lived in nearby Brooklyn Neighborhood. When I was younger, my siblings and I spent many summers in Charlotte's Second Ward and Pearl Street Park. I remember venturing out to several black businesses and banks in the area, passing by Good Samaritan Hospital, the first private hospital in North Carolina built to treat Charlotte's Black citizens. I remember seeing the pride in my grandmother's eyes when she spoke of local civil rights pioneers like Dorothy Counts, Dr. Joseph Charles Jones, Reginald Hawkins and Julius Chambers. They all played key roles in helping desegregate schools, hospitals and other public places in Charlotte," Jamison Jr. said.

Located in Charlotte's Second Ward and purchased by the City of Charlotte in 1943, Pearl Street Park was the first and only public recreation space for Black children and families during segregation. Second Ward is also known for the famous Brooklyn Neighborhood, Charlotte's most prominent black neighborhood and the center of Black civic life until it was demolished in the 1960s in the name of urban renewal.

The park's first use was as a Victory Garden in World War II. The government rationed most food products and relied on citizens to provide their own fruits and vegetables, which were hard to harvest and deliver due to labor and transportation shortages.

Following the war and the park's desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s, it served as the athletic fields for the football and baseball teams at nearby Second Ward High School, the first public high school for African Americans in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The park gave the Black community a safe place to call their own, where they could grow and flourish without fear in uncertain times.

As you walk through the park, you'll see interpretive panels that memorialize the park's history. You'll also find sculptures with quotes and stories engraved on them from former Brooklyn residents. As stated by Arthur Griffin, a former Brooklyn resident and Charlotte City Councilman, "Brooklyn (and Pearl Street Park) was the center of my universe." He hopes newcomers and native Charlotteans see the sculpture and quotes and "appreciate the contributions of all the residents of Charlotte" – including African American residents – that helped pave the way for Charlotte's successes and recognitions.

"As my children grow, I look forward to sharing this history with them while they too play at Pearl Street Park, as I did with my siblings," Jamison Jr. said.

As the weather warms up, Jamison Jr. encourages everyone to stop by for a visit. If for no other reason than to appreciate a piece of Charlotte's Black history.

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Bernard Jamison, Jr., is a native Charlottean. He attended the West Charlotte High School and is a UNCC grad. He's part of Albemarle's Communications team as the Senior Creative Services Specialist.