As Summerville park sees improvements, Black residents remember its cultural impact | News

SUMMERVILLE — Years ago, Doty Park near downtown looked drastically different when it was a huge hub for Black residents.

There wasn’t a community center. And baseball fields used to sit where tennis courts now stand. Those fields were typically filled predominately with Black residents from the Alston and Brownsville areas. 

Anthony Pinckney, a 58-year-old native Summerville resident, said his wife ran the concession stand. He used to drive around the park after the baseball fields were replaced, trying to remember the good days.

Louis Smith, another longtime Summerville resident, said being there in the 1980s and ’90s felt like a neighborhood experience.

“You probably had a lot of marriage proposals out there,” he said. “It was a cultural hub of the community.”

For decades, Doty Park was the home to the Carolina Dixie Youth Baseball League. It was a program where Black and White children in large numbers could gather and play baseball as a community. In 2020, a program of its scale doesn’t exist at the park. 

It started in 1969, the same year Dorchester County schools were ordered to integrate. Though there was a Summerville youth baseball league that invited all children at the time regardless of race, that league had cuts. It only made space for a select group of children.

Former students reflect 50 years after desegregation of Dorchester County schools

Most Black families chose to have their children play at Doty because it felt more comfortable. The league also gave children more opportunities since they didn’t have cuts.

This further diversified the Doty league, since some White parents weren’t comfortable with a cuts policy either.

“We didn’t want to hurt their feelings,” said Jerome Sanders, one of creators of the league at Doty. “We never cut children.” 

The Doty league no longer exists today, and some residents say the park doesn’t have the

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