Huntsville Parks & Recreation Celebrates Black History Month
Published on February 24, 2021
February is Black History Month. As we pay tribute to the many Black citizens who have made a difference in our community, Huntsville Parks & Recreation highlighted four places with ties to our African American community.
For our first spotlight, we featured Big Spring Park.
Named after a large underground Karst spring, referred to by the indigenous Cherokee and Chickasaw as the “Big Spring,” Big Spring Park is a staple in downtown Huntsville. In 1880, Huntsville African Baptist Church held baptisms in what is now Big Spring Park. The church was renamed St. Bartley Primitive Baptist Church after its second pastor, Bartley Harris, who is said to have baptized over 3,000 people there. St. Bartley’s is the oldest Black congregation in Alabama.
One of the City’s most popular destinations, the Huntsville/Madison County Veterans Memorial honors the many individuals who have served our country and protected our way of life. Directly behind the Memorial and U.S. flag is the Patriot’s Walkway, a series of informational kiosks that outline American military history. The kiosks highlight three African Americans who served in the military: Staff Sgt. Homer H. McGraw, Sr., Trooper Able Freeman and Private Louis Drolet.
Have you visited the Buffalo Soldier Memorial on Popular Avenue? In July 1866, Congress passed legislation forming two cavalries and four infantry regiments composed of African Americans. The 9th and 10th cavalries served in the southwestern and western territories of America, conducting operations against Native American tribes. The Natives nicknamed them “Buffalo Soldiers.” In 1898, they were sent to Cuba to participate in the Spanish American War. Sgt. Major Paschal Conley came to Huntsville from Cuba to set up an encampment in 1899.
As we close out Black History Month, take time to visit the City’s new Dr. William Hooper Councill Memorial Park on St. Clair Avenue. The park, located at the site of the old Councill High, honors the hundreds of African American students who studied there during the era of segregation.
The school served the Huntsville community from 1867 until its closing in the 1960s. More than 50 years since the school closed, the site is now a beautiful park that pays tribute to Dr. Councill and his incredible legacy in Huntsville.