Parks board seeks input on request to rename Hadley Park

Hadley Park Historical marker.

The Metropolitan Board of Parks and Recreation is seeking community input on a request to change the name of Hadley Park to Kwame Leo Lillard Park. The proposed name change would honor Kwame Leo Lillard, a local civil rights activist who died in December.

The historic Hadley Park in North Nashville was established in 1912 and, for decades, was the only public park in the city opened to African Americans. The park area contained the Hadley family’s home, whose plantation also became the site of Tennessee State University.

The name of the park has been a point of controversy for years.

According to the Cultural Landscape Foundation: “Although the park was named by Eugene Lewis, then the director of the Nashville Parks and Recreation Department, the person for whom it was named remains a contentious question, with some accounts citing the repentant slave owner John L. Hadley, while others point to Dr. W.A. Hadley, a prominent Africa American physician with whom Lewis worked on the planning of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897.”

Over the years, there have been several attempts to rename the park, with the current effort being led Councilwoman-at-Large Sharon Hurt.

The Parks Board is accepting public comment through Wednesday, May 18, 2021. The Board is soliciting public input before taking a formal vote to determine whether to petition the Tennessee Historical Commission, the governmental body that will make the final decision, on changing the name of the park.

The public will be able to provide input by email, standard mail, phone, or in-person during the May 4, 2021 Parks Board meeting—and at a community meeting that is scheduled for 6 pm, May 5, at Hadley Park Community Center. For more details, visit <www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation.aspx>.

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