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Chapel Hill Town Council names Hargraves facilities after notable Northside leaders

The William M. Hargraves Center is located on North Robertson Street, pictured on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022.

Facilities in the Hargraves Community Center will be renamed in honor of two influential members of the Black community in Chapel Hill. 

Northside Gym, one of the facilities, will be renamed in honor of Nate Davis. The center's indoor basketball court will be named after Fred Battle. 

Both Davis and Battle grew up in Northside and made significant impacts at the Hargraves Community Center.

The Chapel Hill Town Council voted unanimously in favor of renaming on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

The Council Naming Committee recommended the new titles after several people brought it to their attention, according to Chapel Hill Town Council member Michael Parker.

The Thorpe-Anderson Breakfast Club, a group of Black leaders and supporters in Chapel Hill of which Battle was a founder, was one of these trailblazers, Parker said. 

He said John French, the current Hargraves Community Center director, pushed for the renaming and spoke on behalf of the two men at Wednesday’s meeting.

“We all know what Mr. Battle and Mr. Davis meant to this community and very few people in the history of Chapel (Hill) have done so much inside of Parks and Rec for African-Americans, specifically youth on the north side," Deaver Smith, recreation specialist for the Hargraves Center, said. 

Battle served as director of the community center from 1970-1987, and also served as an administrator for the Parks and Recreation Department until his retirement in 2009, French said at the meeting. 

French said during his time with the center, Battle established programs essential to the Black community in Chapel Hill.

Battle was also an active participant in the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, French added. 

He said Davis began working at the Hargraves center in 1973, and directed it from 1988 until his retirement in 2019.

During his tenure, French said Davis helped develop many programs – of which many continue to benefit the Northside community. He was also a major player in the planning and construction of Northside Gym, French said. 

“He was an amazing mentor for me to look to for guidance and for me to continue to try to become the Parks-Rec professional I am today," Smith said.  

Both men are also lifetime members of the National Association for the Advanced of Color People, according to French. 

“Their acts of humanity not only benefit the African American community for generations to come, but the entire town of Chapel Hill benefited from their service,” French said at the meeting. 

When the motion passed, it was met with a standing round of applause from all of the council members. 

Brentton Harrison, the recreational assistant for Hargraves Community Center, said the men did a lot of good for the center and the community for the years they were involved. 

"Just between the two of them, they held so much history and so much knowledge of all the people, all the families," Harrison said. "It's just, it's incredible."

He said he grew up playing at the Hargraves Community Center and the location is meaningful to him. Due to his experience, he said the center is valuable and it's hard to fully express what it means to the community. 

Smith said he is also happy to see the two men recognized as they helped the community and the town grow. 

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“I think that one thing that this can hopefully spark, is us continuing to look back at the people that helped build this town for what it is, and for all of them to continue to be honored," Smith said. 


@DTHCityState | 

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