|Ashley and Catherine listen to Mr. Coffey at the Fred Batts Leadership Luncheon|
After a go-around where we introduced ourselves to each other and my presentation looking at the roots of community murals, we opened the floor to comments, questions and suggestions. Right off the bat we heard about a past that's nearly non-existent in Waco's local history books. In all the sources that we could find claiming to tell Waco's story, African-Americans hardly existed.
Our community groups recalled places and people long since gone. Schools like A.J. Moore razed, businesses like the great Alpha Theater closed, dance clubs and homes left to decay, and Paul Quinn College relocated to Dallas. We heard about great teachers and restaurants, about Elm Avenue, Bridge and Clifton Streets and how they used to thrive. It was nostalgia for sure but also a very important way of rekindling the spirit of a place that's hard to imagine when you walk around today. And since the history books don't show it, the stories and images they evoke have to be preserved through oral tradition.
|The Alpha Theater in its hey day|
|The Alpha as it appears today|
|View of the Baylor stadium project in the foreground and East Waco behind it|