Parks and Recreation (2024)

The Parks and Recreation Department have several connections to prominent leaders in Black History. Additionally, many facilities are named after local or national leaders in Black History. Check out the connections below.

Alex Haley Square
1871 Hazen Street

Alex Haley Square located at Morningside Park is named after the famed author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family. The Square includes a 13-foot tall statue of Haley showing him sitting while reading a book and displaying his warm inviting nature and storyteller to children. Haley transitioned to a life in journalism after serving in the United States Coast Guard in World War II. He became a highly decorated veteran and received the American Defense Service Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and an honorary degree from the Coast Guard Academy. Learn more about Alex Haley.

Cal Johnson Park and Community Center
507 Hall of Fame DriveCal Johnson Park and Community Center is named after the highly respected businessman and leader in Knoxville, Cal Johnson.

In 1922, Cal Johnson Park became the first park named after a local member of Knoxville's Black community. Johnson was very generous to the community. From owning enterprises where people could congregate to donating the fountain, archways and other features at the Cal Johnson Park.

This park includes a plaque honoring Nikki Giovanni. Giovanni was born in Knoxville, raised in Ohio, but visited her grandparents in Knoxville quite often near the Cal Johnson Park location. She is a well known poet, activist, educator and commentator. As one of the foremost authors of the black arts movement, her notable books include: Black Judgement and Those Who Ride the Night Winds which were influenced by her involvement in the Black Arts Movement and Black Power Movement in the 1960s. She received the 2022 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the inaugural Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, the American Book Award, and more. Learn more about Nikki Giovanni.

Well known basketball player Candace Parker teamed with 2K Foundations to revitalize the outdoor basketball courts at Cal Johnson Park in 2020. The court features a mural which has connections to Parker and African-American heritage as well as quotes from Parker, U.T. Coach Pat Summitt and poet Nikki Giovanni.

Parker, a former Tennessee Lady Vol with two NCAA Championships under Pat Summitt, was the first pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft and played for three different WNBA teams: 13 seasons on the Los Angeles Sparks, two seasons with the Chicago Sky and one season with the Las Vegas Aces. She won a championship with each of these teams and is the first player in WNBA to achieve this feat. With numerous awards and acknowledgements, she is also the only player in WNBA history to win MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season. Learn more about Candace Parker.

Carl Cowan Pool
3124 Wilson Avenue

Carl Cowan pool is named after a local attorney who earned his law degree from Howard University and became the first African-American Assistant District Attorney for Knox County. Knox County's Carl Cowan Park was opened in 1946 at a time when some parks were white only and the Black community could only access some parks one day a year to celebrate Emancipation Day. Carl Cowan Pool is located at Dr. E.V. Davidson Community Center.

Claude Walker Ball Park
2945 Wilson Avenue

The Claude Walker Ball Park is named after Claude A. Walker who served in the City of Knoxville's Park and Recreation Department for more than 30 years. In 1979, residents of the 6th District requested City Council rename Wilson-Castle Field to Claude A. Walker Field for his efforts to improve the lives of Black children in East Knoxville. In 2022, the complex received a major overhaul including the following: a transition to synthetic turf, new dugouts, covered batting cages, new scoreboards, upgraded fencing and renovated concession stand facilities. The ball park is located adjacent to Dr. E.V. Davidson Community Center and Austin-East Magnet High School.

Danny Mayfield Park
700 College Street

The Danny Mayfield Park is named after City Councilman Danny Mayfield. Mayfield was passionate about the community and youth. After earning his degree at Knoxville College, Mayfield became an ordained minister and co-founded Tribe One, an inner-city ministry to combat drugs, gang violence and other social problems. He is remembered as a devoted public servant who loved his adopted city and fearlessly battled cancer, defying doctor's orders not to attend City Council Meetings.

Dr. E.V. Davidson Community Center
3124 Wilson Avenue

The Dr. E.V. Davidson Community Center is named after a well-known doctor in Knoxville.

This center also includes the Carl Cowan Pool.

Dr. Walter Hardy Park
2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue

Dr. Walter Hardy Park is named after Knoxvillian Dr. Walter Hardy who graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville and was one of the first African-American physicians. He practiced medicine in East Tennessee for over 20 years. Involved in the community, he advocated for the removal of the general hospital and in its place would be the U.T. Hospital where there would be no segregation.

Ed Cothren Pool
1737 Reynolds Street

The well-visited outdoor Ed Cothren swimming pool at Malcom-Martin Park was named after First Lieutenant Ed Cothren who served with the Buffalo Soldiers Unit on the front lines in Italy during World War II. At the age of 24 in 1944, Cothren was the first African-American soldier from Knoxville to die in World War II. He was a graduate of Austin High School and Knoxville College. He is buried in the Knoxville's National Cemetery. The Leslie Street Park Pool was renamed after Cothren in 1946 but the pool was relocated to its current location in Malcolm-Martin Park in 1995.

Harriet Tubman Park
300 Harriet Tubman Street

Although Harriet Tubman was born into slavery, she escaped and made 13 missions to rescue an estimated 70 enslaved families by using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. Tubman was an abolitionist, humanitarian, and an armed scout and spy for the United States Army during the Civil War. Tubman was the first female to lead an armed exhibition in the war.

Malcom-Martin Park and Greenway
1737 Reynolds Street

Malcom-Martin Park and Greenway are named after Malcom X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ed Cothren Pool is located at Malcom-Martin Park

Paul Hogue Park
500 S. Chestnut Street

Paul Hogue Park(formerly Union Square Park) is named after native Paul Hogue who was a basketball star at Austin High School and the University of Cincinnati. As a Cincinnati Bearcat, Hogue was named National Player of the Year and first team All-American (1962), and won two National Championships (1961, 1962). He was drafted by the New York Knicks as the #2 pick in the 1962 NBA Draft. Following his basketball career, He served in the United States Postal Service and became supervisor of the Employee Assistance Program where is became an advocate for substance abuse recovery.

Sam Anderson Pavilion at Caswell Park
620 Winona Street

The pavilion at Caswell Park is named after the City's first African-American Parks and Recreation Director, Sam Anderson. Anderson's career began in 1976 as a teacher at Sarah Moore Greene Elementary School. He eventually taught at Austin-East High School and led the football team and track and field team to multiple state titles. As the City's Park and Recreation Director, Anderson tripled the number of parks, quadrupled the miles of greenways, and worked to improve youth sports and senior centers.

Sheryl Ely

Sheryl Ely became the first African-American female to serve as Deputy Director of the City's Public Service Department and became the first African-American female to serve as Parks and Recreation Director.

William Hastie Natural Area
1302 Margaret Road

The William Hastie Natural Area is named after Knoxville-born William Hastie. Hastie, first in his class at Amherst College, became a lawyer, judge, educator, public official, and advocate for Civil Rights of African-Americans. He was the first African-American to serve as Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, as a federal judge, and as a federal appellate judge.

William Powell Park
1900 Linden Avenue

William Powell Park is named after 6th District City Councilman William "Bill" Powell who served the city from 1990-1997. Powell championed causes such as affordable housing and his wife Lula said he "loved the community and people, and working with people. In fact, that was his life." Powell was a graduate of Knoxville College and the University of Tennessee and served in the Army. He was KCDC's first black human services director, part owner of Unity Mortuary, and a former science teacher with Maryville and Knoxville city schools.

Zaevion Dobson Park
2701 Badgett Drive

Zaevion Dobson Park is named after Zaevion Dobson who was killed at the age of 15 as he shielded three girls on the front porch of a residence in Lonsdale Homes in 2015. Dobson was a beloved member of the Fulton High School football team and posthumously received the 2016 Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYS. Dobson's life and legacy continue today as a park in Lonsdale Homes. His mother Zenobia Dobson, created the Zaevion Dobson Memorial Foundation to promote and provide recreational and educational facilities for underserved communities.


Parks and Recreation (2024)


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