farish street: not forgotten

I am a power nerd for learning history. When I lived in Chicago, I signed up for as many neighborhood walking tours offered by a group called Forgotten Chicago. The presenters are a motley bunch of young history detectives. They help you understand the forgotten or lost history and context of Chicago’s built environment. And when you think about it, buildings are like books. You just have to learn how to read them.

The same could be said of Farish Street in #Jackson, Mississippi. The history of this street is so special. Farish was once the Black Mecca of Mississippi. Beginning in the 1890s, African American business owners set up shops on Farish. And Farish thrived as a community and cultural hub.

According to Blues scholar Scott Barretta:

Much of the crowd then consisted of country folks who took special buses to Farish Street to stock up on dry goods and visit the cafes on the street, where beer flowed inexpensively and jukeboxes blared out the latest R&B sounds. The records themselves could be bought at several local furniture stores, including one that contained a recording studio and nationally distributed label, while moviegoers could choose from the selections at the Amite, the Booker T and the Alamo; the latter also hosted prominent out-of-town touring bands.

Look at these photos. Imagine being there.

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IMG-4469Source: University of Mississippi: The Farish Street Project.

Farish no longer thrives the way it did in the 1900s, I am sad to report. The street is still home to a few businesses, churches, and funeral homes. But most of it suffers from neglect. I live about a mile from Farish and visited one sunny Saturday to take these photos. Not forgotten.

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