Construction begins on $3.2M Eastside San Antonio Community Center

Several times after church, members of the First Baptist Church of Mt. Zion gathered in the parking lot, praying for the need for a community center for their Eastside neighborhoods. On Friday, they attended the inauguration ceremony marking the start of its construction.

The $3.2 million ZerNona Black multi-generational cultural community center will total 10,000 square feet and include two buildings, a landscaped courtyard, multipurpose rooms and classrooms, a catering kitchen, bathrooms and breakout spaces. support. Construction is expected to be completed in February 2023.

Black, who died in 2005, was an educator and activist and the wife of the Reverend Claude Black, a former city council member, civil rights activist and longtime pastor of Mt. Zion. ZerNona Black worked as an instructor at St. Philip’s College and advocated for citizenship education through courses in communication, drama, speech and radio.

The community center that bears his name is part of the 2017-2022 Municipal Bond Program, which is funding $2 million of construction costs. Bexar County paid an additional $500,000, according to project documentand the church raised $1 million in addition to donating the land that was once a parking lot adjacent to the church.

“It literally started with nickels and dimes and dollars,” said Otis Mitchell, pastor of Mt. Zion for 16 years. “And that’s how it was done.”

Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) said the center itself will offer services championed by ZerNona Black, including senior day care, preschool, after-school programs and adult classes. .

“We now take comfort in knowing that future generations of San Antonio residents will be able to know about her namesake, the greatness of her husband, and the great legacy of this church from the Baptist colony to the present,” Calvert said.

Mitchell, after shoveling dirt on the lot as construction is about to begin, said he was almost speechless.

“I celebrate what faith in God can do. … It’s necessary. It will make a difference,” he said.

Jill E. Washington