Festival highlights downtown Macon's black business district

Macon's Cotton Avenue Revival Festival

People are gathering together to celebrate the history of what was formerly part of downtown Macon's Cotton Avenue, now Forsyth Street. 

The Cotton Avenue Revival Festival will allow people to learn more about the legacy of the black-owned business district.

Gloria Hutchings says she remembers being christened at a church there in the early 1930s.

Inside Washington Avenue Presbyterian Church, she remembers her time there during the 1950s.

“I taught Sunday school, and I was also the organist. I directed the choir. I sang in the choir. I did all those things,” said Hutchings.

Joan Walton has also been a member of the church for years.

Walton says she began going to church when she and her husband moved to Macon so he could work for his father, Doctor D.T. Walton, on what used to be Cotton Avenue.

“He was very active in the civil rights [movement] and in the dental group for the state -- my father-in-law was -- as was my husband,” said Walton.

The church and businesses like Walton’s were all a part of the historic Cotton Avenue area -- a community that Alex Habersham says was a mecca for African American workers.

“Several businesses were along this corridor, and it’s extremely important that we remember that and that we redevelop the area,” said Habersham.

He says that is why he is taking part in the Cotton Avenue Revival Festival. He wants to encourage people to open businesses in the area by learning more about the history.

“Try to inspire some of these young people to replicate what has happened along this corridor,” said Habersham.

He says people will have the opportunity to visit businesses like his and also take tours of the historic buildings and churches, like Washington Avenue Presbyterian Church, which Hutchings says is important.

“The children are this nation. [It] is in their hands because eventually they will be running the country,” said Hutchings.
 

The festival will take place March 25-26 on downtown Macon’s Forsyth Street. Below is a list of events from the Historic Macon Foundation:

12:30pm-12:45pm Festival Kick-off

12:45pm-1:15pm Fort Valley State Concert Choir

1:20pm-1:45pm Tubman Museum Percussion Performance and Community Drum Circle

2pm-3pm Central High School Performing Arts Ensemble

3:10pm-3:30pm Cassandra Calloway Youth Dancers

3:35pm-4pm Fraternity Step Show

4:15pm-5:15pm Groove Gumbo Jazz Band featuring Richard Owens

5:30pm-6:45pm Dean Brown’s Dub Shak Band featuring Blak PearL

Additionally, guided walking history tours will be held at 2 and 4 p.m. on Saturday, and open house tours will be offered throughout the festival by four historic downtown churches - Steward Chapel AME Church, First Baptist Church on New Street, Washington Avenue Presbyterian Church, and Holsey Temple CME Church on Washington Avenue.    

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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