Southernside residents, elected officials, community leaders and corporate partners gathered at Unity Park this morning with the family and friends of Lila Mae Brock to celebrate her life and dedicate a plaza named in her honor.
Brock’s grandson, Brian M. Brock, presided over the ceremony, and speakers included former S.C. governor Dick Riley, Mayor Knox White and Southernside Neighborhoods in Action president Mary Duckett, as well as grandchildren Sarai Brock, Savannah Moses, James Anthony Gooseby, Davit O. Gooseby, J.M. Flemming II, the Reverend Emanuel Flemming Sr., Christiann B. Moses and Dennis Brock II. Minister Tonjalyn Cokley delivered the prayer of dedication.
Located at the corner of West Washington and South Hudson streets, Lila Mae Brock Plaza includes a flower garden and a bronze statue of Brock by local artist Charles Pate, Jr., which was commissioned by the City of Greenville. The William Randolph Hearst Foundation, ScanSource, Verizon, William W. and Dr. Karen Brown, Fluor Corporation and Bank of America sponsored the plaza.
Born in 1915, Brock moved to the Southernside community in 1938. After retiring as a cafeteria worker for Greenville County Schools in the 1970s, Brock began working to address the poverty, crime and neglect in her community. She partnered with churches and other local organizations to provide food, clothing, medical services and jobs and even fed those in need from her own kitchen.
In 1980, she founded the Southernside Community Center, where she offered meal programs, youth and senior programs and activities and language classes. She also worked with the City to provide job training and daycare and help community residents become homeowners.
Working with her son-in-law, Reverend J.M. Flemming, Brock was also successful in bringing affordable housing to her community. The 68-unit Brockwood Senior Housing development was built with funds from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development and named in her honor.
Brock received numerous awards for her community service, including The Order of the Palmetto, the State of South Carolina's highest civilian honor. Brock, who once famously said, “I always wanted to be a foreign missionary, but I found the need was just as great five blocks from Main Street as it was in Africa,” passed away in February 1996.