Derrick Broadie, brother of Bryan Broadie, Elizabeth Hewlett, chairman of Prince George’s County Planning Board, Ola Mae Broadie, mother of Bryan Broadie and Russell Crawford, friend of family, pose with new plaque at baseball field.
In 1959, seven-year-old Bryan Broadie insisted that his mother take him to the local baseball field where only White children played. His insistence paid off. Bryan became the first African-American child to play for the Lanham Boys Club, now called the Lanham Boys and Girls Club. For this act of bravery, the baseball field at Whitfield Chapel Park in Lanham, Md. was renamed “The Bryan Alonzo Broadie Field” in his honor Nov. 8.
Several local politicians including Maryland Sen. Paul Pinsky, (X-District 22), Prince George’s County Del. Anne Healey, (X-District 22) and Prince George’s Council member Andrea Harrison, (X-District 5), attended the event.
As a Duvall High School student, Bryan was murdered at age 17 in 1970. He was survived by his mother, Ola Mae Broadie. Broadie first wrote to the department of Parks and Planning in 1987 in an effort to have the park renamed in her son’s honor.
Broadie stated that although the request was initially rejected without explanation, Maryland State Sen. Leo E. Green wrote a letter to the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission in support of her efforts.
“I never gave up hope,” Broadie told the AFRO. “I never allowed them to forget,” she continued. Ms. Broadie remained steadfast in her efforts to have the park renamed in her son’s honor.
“It has been 44 years,” she exclaimed to the attendees at the renaming ceremony. Broadie counted the years that have passed since her son’s death as a way to put the momentous occasion into perspective.
Broadie recounted her son’s interest in playing ball during a time of racial inequality in America. “You will be playing with all White children,” she said to her son. At seven years old, young Bryan responded, “Mommy, if I treat them well, they will treat me well.”
Broadie said that her son did not have a deep understanding of an unhealthy racial climate. He only knew that he liked playing sports. “There was a question mark on the faces of the parents during the first two months he was around,” she said, explaining that Bryan was benched when he started playing. “But he sure proved himself when he hit a home run on his first time at bat. They had smiles on their faces after that,” recounted Broadie.
The renaming ceremony attracted notable politicians, local clergy, family and friends of Bryan as well as many members of the community.“This means a lot to our close-knit community who remember him,” said an excited Rodney Corbin of Upper Marlboro, Md. He was close friends with Bryan from first grade until his untimely death. “I played basketball with him,” said Corbin, “He was a super athlete. There was no sport that he wasn’t interested in.”
Joe Jenkins was also close to the young athlete. “We would ride our bicycles together,” said Jenkins, We went around challenging people to basketball games. Bryan and I never talked about integration. All we wanted was to play football,” continued Jenkins who explained that the local football leagues were integrated before baseball teams.
Derrick Broadie, Bryan’s younger brother, said that he and his brother were influenced by their father who played football in the Post Office League. “Prince George’s County has come a long way,” Derrick said. “I remember when this county was majority White and Blacks were blocked on everything. But today, here we are honoring my brother in this way.”
He said the renaming will inspire young people. “You might not get a ball field named after you, but our community needs you to be somebody who stands up,” stated Derrick in respect to young people in the African-American community.
Elizabeth Hewlett, chairman of Prince George’s County Planning Board and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission hosted the event. “He was a champion. This was a long time coming,” she said.
Broadie, who proudly unveiled the new plaque of her son at the Bryan Alonzo Broadie Field said, “I’m asking that we recognize children…Adults are rewarded all of the time, but children do amazing things without even knowing it.” The family has established the Evans-Broadie Achievement Award Association which can be found at www.ebaaa.com.