Charles Black Recreation Center Re-opens After $4.4 Million Renovation

The LaSalle Park staple aims to serve the neighborhood and foster digital inclusion with expanded recreation space, a music studio, and a Metronet-powered CLICK Center.

Metronet Zing
Nov 15, 2018 · 5 min read

On November 1st, 2018, the Charles Black Recreation Center in the LaSalle Park neighborhood re-opened after an extensive renovation and expansion project. Countless community members and elected officials overflowed the bleachers beside a brand new basketball court to witness this monumental grand opening.

The event included speakers such as Director of Recreation Jonathan Jones, Lynn Coleman, Common Council member At-Large Karen White, Associate Director of South Bend Heritage Gladys Muhammad, and Jacques Neal, the daughter of the late Charles Black.

The renovation was Thank you to the Venues Parks and Arts, City Council, Mayor, LaSalle Neighborhood Association, for advocating for the Center.

Founded in 1968, the Center has offered many programs, services, and a place of safety to communities of color, and especially the LaSalle Park neighborhood. 50 years later, the community can now witness the investment of $4.4 Million into the Charles Black Center.

Heard At The Opening:

“I’m originally from Michigan City and haven’t spent a lot of time knowing the history of the Charles Black Center. But for many of you, you’ve seen the before and after, so this is a very special moment.”

“I was raised in this neighborhood prior to my high school years. Many of my childhood friends are my friends today. We share a special bond that neighbors look after neighbors. We realize that we are all in this together. Charles Black was really the only place we could go.”

Lynn Coleman and Karen White speaking

Please don’t allow this to be the last time you’re here. Come back. Participate. Be involved in the programs of this fantastic facility. This is ours. This is ours.

— Lynn Coleman

“I got the opportunity to take an in-depth tour of all the parks and facilities, in general, everything seemed a little tired. But no place seemed more deserving and more in need of attention than the Charles Black Center. Here we are, we’ve got three basketball courts, a bike repair shop, an art studio, a music studio, computer lab, workout facility, kitchen, concession stand ... This is a first-class facility.

It’s not the bricks and mortar that makes this place special. We just heard from about 50 people that make this place truly special. and I know there’s many more that we have yet to recognize. Regardless of your color, age, race, background, this is place filled with positive people and positive experiences. It’s a place that will change the lives, minds, and souls of the people that come through here. It’s a special place. It’s Charles Black Community Center, celebrating 50 years and re-opening tonight.

The most rewarding part of being involved in this project was the fact that every single element of the facility represents someone’s hope, vision, dream, or idea, from the paint colors, to the logo design, to the carpet, to the layout. That’s representative of something that somebody wanted. And that’s why we call this a community center. And that’s why we have a lot of people to thank tonight.”

Associate Director of South Bend Heritage Gladys Muhammad

“We’re here because of a man who gave his life for this community. Charles Black was God’s gift to this community. If Charles decided to be a friend to you, he’d be a friend. He gave all he had every single day.”

“Everything he did, he did for the glory of God. That’s the type of man he was. He gave his life to this community, and we’re all the product of that. His legacy lives on through all of us. Charles “Boxcar” Black — he was a great football player, and they said, he was like the bus, he would run folks over. That’s how he got his name, because he kept putting people on their behinds.”

This is a neighborhood that really needed to frankly see the city prove that we believe every neighborhood deserves great facilities and great programs.

— Mayor Pete Buttigieg

As part of the Center’s expansion, the computer lab will host the new Center for Learning, Information, Connectivity, and Knowledge (CLICK). This CLICK Center is part of an effort by the City of South Bend aimed at growing digital inclusion.

This center is a result of a partnership between Metronet Zing, St. Joseph County Public Library, and the City of South Bend with a primary focus on helping community members gain the technology and digital literacy skills necessary to thrive in 2018 and beyond.

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