Location: King-Lincoln Bronzeville Distict, Columbus, Ohio
As I approached Long Street I was thankful for ample free parking and a nice overcast day in the low 80s with a slight breeze. The melodic music of the one man band playing the drums, trombone, and at times the keyboard filled the air as I took a few minutes to observe the vender booths, and watch Marc Thomas paint an original piece on canvas. I watched Darrean Brown put the final touches on the his pavement art piece ”Langston Hughes Still Here”. I watched the artists for a few minutes, amazed at their talent.
Heading towards the main stage, I spotted Michael Coleman, the former Mayor of Columbus, Ohio. If you have lived in Columbus, Ohio for any length of time, especially if you are an African American, you recognize Michael Coleman (nuff said).
I didn’t realize that my time at the festival would be a trip down memory lane.
I had a conversation with Marcus Salter of Community Mediation Services of Central Ohio. As a former landlord, I probably jumped the gun with a few comments when he told me they offer counseling services for tenants going through eviction. By the end of the discussion, I had a better understanding and appreciation of the services his employer offers. Providing information and teaching others to fish is priceless.
I bumped into a couple of ladies (Ciera Dawkins Flemister and Madam X (who didn’t want her name included) who looked familiar. It took us a few minutes to determine we attended Trinity Baptist Church together when E.A. Parham served as the Pastor. That was some 30+ years ago. I attend Trinity until I was about 14. There are a few things that I remember about Trinity Baptist church back in the day:
1. The pews were hard.
2. The only choir that could “sang” was the gospel choir who only ministered on the fifth Sunday.
3. Church was over by 1:00 pm EVERY Sunday. Except one Sunday during the NBA finals the guest minister didn’t get the memo and held church until about 1:30. EVERYONE in the section where I was seated looked at their watches, the clock and whispered. My dad was livid and so was I. Let’s just say God didn’t get no glory in the language in my head.
4. Pastor E.A. Parham was personable. He would talk wherever he saw you. At the grocery store, “filling” station (gas station), anywhere.
5. I loved Sunday School because for about 3 months we didn’t have a teacher. Instead of learning the valuable principles of the Bible, pre-teens were clowning and cracking. It came to an end the week when Richard pulled off Nancy’s wig. They started fighting and made so much noise the teacher from the next room came over. That was the end of that. My grandmother, Mildred Kelley (who lived to be 100 and served as the Sunday School Superintendent, and later Deaconess) was not thrilled.
After our trip down memory lane, we found a place to sit down. Madam X came to the festival with Mariam Tania Phillipose. Tania jumped up when they played the Cupid Shuffle and didn’t miss a beat. After the song, we all sat around people watching and talking. This reminded me of going over my grandparents’ house and sitting on the front porch. When my great grandparents were living and sitting on the porch, children weren’t supposed to be seen or heard. In other words, you needed to take yourself somewhere and play in the yard. As I got older, I was permitted to stand around on the porch and even take a seat. But I had sense enough to know that my behind in the seat was temporary if an older person came along.
Madam X and I walked over to the Rosa Parks exhibit. Getting on the COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority) bus reminded me of when I was put in charge of my younger brother in the summer. We would “catch” the COTA on Cassady Ave. to Fifth Ave. Then, we’d transfer to a bus that went down Mt. Vernon Ave. to the West side (where my grandparents lived). The most memorable bus ride was when a small stature male rider didn’t have money nor his transfer slip and refused to get off the bus. A large female bus driver threatened to throw him off the bus. He ran up and down the aisle and he eventually got off the bus. I thought we were going to see something off of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).
I heard the wonderful music. Someone told me it was Bobby Floyd. I don’t know how I have lived in Columbus all my life and never heard him play. As I looked around, I saw one white man. My lead in, “Now I gotta take a picture of the only white guy at the African American Festival.” He laughed and said sure. He said he really liked Bobby Floyd so that is why he came to the festival. We started discussing which high schools we attended, which part of town, and settled on the Boys High School basketball games back in the day at the Coliseum. Man let me tell you those were good times! From the mid ’70s to the early ‘80s I remember seeing East High School, Linden McKinley, and Mifflin battling in the tournament games.
After that conversation, I took a few steps to rejoin the sisterhood. At some point, Laura Gentry of LAG Productions, LLC sat down next to us. She eased into the conversation. We discussed everything from personal heat (hot flashes), hair, self-defense, etc. In discussing the present, I was reminded of the past.
My take on the African American Cultural Festival 2018
This festival reminds me of all that is great about our culture. We can dance together, we can have strong times of intense fellowship (almost arguing our points), remember the old times, celebrate our differences, learn from each other, meet new friends, etc.
As I age gracefully I tend to cherish the times that I make genuine connections. Memories in a way allow us to live that moment in time all over again. Today was a day that is forever logged in my memory.
This is definitely something to put on your calendar!