2021 Negro Leagues Centennial Community Celebration
A Celebration of Community
The heart and soul of Rocky Mount, North Carolina is clearly reflected in its small business community and network of advocates and volunteers, and this has never been more evident than throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. In the face of daily challenges and changes, the needs of our community have been met with individual and collective actions — from the smallest acts of kindness, to the bravest displays of heroism.
After a one-year absence, the Buck Leonard Association annual gala will return in October as a 2-week-long celebration of our heroes. With the generous support of community-builders like you, the celebration will highlight the small businesses of Rocky Mount, while engaging the community in safe, family-friendly events and outings that all serve our mission to: PLAY, EXPLORE & PRESERVE.
PLEASE JOIN US FOR THE FOLLOWING EVENTS:
Oct 15 – Opening Night Reception at Rocky Mount Mills
Opening night reception hosted by Rocky Mount Mills and featuring the grand opening of Black Diamond, presented by Drinking Gourd Gallery. Black Diamond is a solo exhibition of works by artist and illustrator Darryl Matthews, honoring Negro Leagues Baseball players. Matthews is the son of late Negro Leagues first baseman Francis Oliver Matthews who played with the Newark Eagles. The evening will include live music and light refreshments. Click Here for More Information.
Oct 16 – Imperial Centre Art Exhibit Openings
“A History of the Negro Leagues Baseball Era and Players,” by Educator and Historian Derrick C. Jones. Children will have the chance to participate in a lively presentation by wearing reproductions of jerseys of famous players and reading short biographies of stars like Buck Leonard, Jackie Robinson, Josh Gibson, “Cool Papa” Bell, and John-Henry “Pop” Lloyd.
Eight Ballplayers from the Negro Leagues, by Tina Hoggatt. A suite of portraits and oral history. Linocut and foundry type prints, boxed with linen covers. Tina Hoggatt has created permanent public artworks including The Positions on the Field, portraits of ballplayers in porcelain enamel installed on the upper concourse of T-Mobile Park in Seattle
Oct 18 – Historic Buck Leonard Leonard Home Tours
Tour the historic Walter “Buck” Leonard home and meet members of the Buck Leonard Association and our partners. The home at 605 Atlantic Avenue in Rocky Mount, is where Mr. Leonard lived from 1934 during his Hall of Fame baseball career until his death in 1997. In May 2019, the Rocky Mount City Council voted unanimously to officially designate the home as an Historical Landmark. Click Here for More Information.
Oct 21 – Buck Leonard Inner City Youth Sports & S.T.E.A.M. Classic – with Evolve Golf & Education
Hosted at the beautiful Belmont Lake Golf Club, we hope this becomes an annual homecoming event as old friends and new ones converge upon Rocky Mount for the Gala weekend. Join us for a friendy scramble-style tournament with chances to win prizes throughout the round. Sign up to play as a single or a foursome. Lots of opportunities for sponsors and prize donors! Click Here for More Information.
Oct 22 – Downtown Rocky Mount Small Business Friday & Community Reception
In partnership with Rocky Mount Downtown Development this community-wide celebration will invite locals and regional visitors to experience a “Taste of Rocky Mount” on Friday October 22nd. As a prelude to the following night’s Buck Leonard Association “Baseball, Jazz & All That Swing” Gala, this event will feature the restaurants, bars, and businesses of the downtown area. The evening kicks off with a community reception at the historic Booker T. Theater, featuring local dignitaries and special guests.
Oct 23 – UNC/Buck Leonard Association Youth Baseball Clinic
Kids from the Buck Leonard Association RBI Youth Baseball League and beyond will be treated to a free baseball skills clinic hosted by the University of North Carolina baseball program! Following the clininc will be a season-end awards ceremony. Player registration will begin at the park at 9AM on the day of the event. Come ready to Play!
Oct 23 – Baseball, Jazz & All That Swing
Join us in-person or virtually as we welcome several special guests — including the family of Jazz Legend Thelonius Monk — for an evening to celebrate our history, our community, and all that we’ve accomplished together. Musical performances from the Monk Family, and Joyce Stearnes Thompson, Daughter of Negro Leagues baseball legend Norman “Turkey” Stearnes. Silent auction, panel discussions, networking and more. The virtual gala experience will be hosted on Zoom. Click Here for Tickets.
A NOTE ABOUT COMMUNITY SAFETY
Keeping the safety of our community first in mind, each event of this year’s celebration will be designed to move in concert with all applicable mandates and expert best practices regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. Our goal is to move strategically forward with all of our community partners to provide safe opportunities to celebrate and support each other.