Residents fear fading history on city’s north side

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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- There’s a lot of history along Columbus’ north side. Especially along 7th Avenue North.

Some are expressing their worries about the history and the future of the Friendly City’s north side.

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Johnny Hampton grew up on 7th Avenue North. No one’s a stranger. It’s that sense of community he says is fading away.

“This was like, the north side, it was like Beale Street to us, Bourbon Street. It was pride that we took in the neighborhood,” said Hampton.

Let’s go back in time. During the Civil Rights era, 7th Avenue North was where African American’s felt safe.

“That’s all we had was 7th Avenue,” said Thomas Lee, Sr.

Thomas Lee, Sr. says African American’s weren’t allowed in downtown Columbus unless it was in Catfish Alley.

“The main hub where blacks entertained, went to the doctor the dentist,” said Lee.

The Joy Theater was Columbus’ only black theater. The Queen City Hotel, another historical land mark.

“B.B. King, Bobby Bland, all the gospel groups stayed there,” said Lee.

That piece of history now replaced with a historical marker, and an empty lot.

“Every time I pass by there and see that marker, it’s heartbreaking,” said Lee.

Since the February tornado the fear of losing more history still remains.

“My grand kids, they won’t get the chance to experience the actual neighborhood 7th Avenue,” said Hampton.

Empty lots like this, bring back happy memories, but also the reminder that what once was, is now gone. A street that at one time where business was booming he says is being neglected.

“Don’t let it die. Don’t let us just walk up and down with empty lots,” said Hampton.

Both Hampton and Lee are hopeful to see a budding future on the city’s north side.

Clean up efforts are on going after the twister.

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