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Columbia Business Monthly

Greenville Dedicates Unity Park Plaza to the Late Community Activist Lila Mae Brock

Apr 19, 2022 01:30PM ● By David Dykes

With statue and plaza, Greenville honors Lila Mae Brock. (Photo by Donna Isbell Walker) 

By Donna Isbell Walker 

Lila Mae Brock’s legacy of service to the community received a permanent tribute on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, when the city dedicated a statue and plaza in Unity Park to her memory and legacy.

Brock, who died in 1996, founded the Southernside Community Center in 1980, after years of working with local organizations and churches to provide food, shelter, and clothing for people living in poverty.

The bronze statue, created by Greenville artist Charles Pate Jr., is part of a plaza that stands at the park entrance, just across from the West Washington Street post office. 

Brock “will be here at the entrance forever,” said Richard Riley, the former South Carolina governor. “Isn’t that a wonderful thought? She was a beloved figure who was respected by everyone.”

Born in 1915, Brock initially hoped to become a missionary, Riley said. 

She spent many years as a cafeteria worker in Greenville County Schools, and after she retired, she turned her attention to making a difference in her community, focusing on poverty, crime, hunger, and affordable housing.

The Brockwood Senior Housing development, which was built with funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was named in her honor.

“Unity Park is not just about a park,” said Greenville Mayor Knox White. “It’s a much more profound message than that. … The history is so deep, so rich.”

White acknowledged that the history of Southernside wasn’t always positive for its residents, but “there is so much good. … This park has always been about the names, the faces, and the voices of the people of Southernside.”

Tuesday’s dedication included many of Lila Mae Brock’s family members. Her grandson, Rev. Emanuel Flemming Sr., sang the Sam Cooke anthem “A Change is Gonna Come,” and three of her granddaughters gave the invocation and prayer of dedication.

Her grandson Brian Brock recalled his grandmother’s compassion and courage. He said that she would often bring the grandkids with her to work at Southernside Community Center. 

“There’s a reason this is named Unity Park,” Brian Brock said. “Grandma, she unified this community, and we have to keep unifying.”