Latecia Delores Wilson
Latecia Delores Wilson, a performance and literary artist based in Cleveland, OH, is embarking on a profound exploration of significant geographical points within Akron's black community. This immersive project involves collecting personal stories and intertwining them with connections to historical moments, mythology, and folklore throughout the African diaspora. As part of her artist-in-residence tenure, Latecia will present a film titled "Remember: A Visual Love Letter to Howard Street," scheduled to take place at the University of Akron Myers School of Art auditorium.
Brief History: Howard Street, once the vibrant center of African-American culture in Akron during the mid-20th century, housed numerous black-owned businesses and entertainment establishments. It provided an atmosphere where minority-owned businesses could thrive, reaching its peak from the 1930s to the 1950s. The Mathews Hotel, a regular stop for black entertainers like Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie, epitomized the district's cultural significance. Local music clubs such as the Green Turtle, the Cosmopolitan, the High Hat, and Benny Rivers' contributed to its lively atmosphere. Unfortunately, the decline of the Howard Street district began in the 1960s, and much of it succumbed to "urban renewal" in the 1970s and 1980s, echoing James Baldwin's sentiment: "Urban Renewal equals Negro Removal." Featured music includes "Overcomer" by Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and "They Who Must Die" by Shabaka and the Ancestors.
"Remember: A Visual Love Letter to Howard Street" captures the essence of the past blending with the present, unveiling memories deeply embedded in the geographical landscape. This short film serves as a poignant tribute to Howard Street's historical significance, once a flourishing hub for black businesses and artists in Akron. Despite urban development erasing much of its legacy, Latecia's work acts as a reminder of the rich tapestry of black excellence that thrived on Howard Street, showcasing what was, what is, and the potential for what can be. It stands as a testament to the resilience of the black community in the face of systematic erasure and celebrates the enduring spirit of black excellence.