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Columbia’s Black Wall Street

Pictured above the 1100 Block of Washington Street in the 1950s | Photo from Richland Library via The State Newspaper Archives

The details are in the paint

ja Charles latest mural on Main

After months and months of planning and anticipating — Columbia is getting a Black Lives Matter themed mural. Community members have teamed up with One Columbia and local artists to bring the new art to the side of Sweet Temptations Bakery in Noma. Work is expected to begin in July.

We hope as you’ve walked down Main Street you have noticed the new 300 ft x 600 ft mural recently completed by Ija Charles. If not, take a look for yourself.

This new addition to Columbia’s mural scene depicts what once was Columbia’s Black Wall Street. Ever heard of it? Let’s jump back to 100 years ago when an area of downtown was full of Black-owned businesses.

In the capital city, the area from 1000-1100 blocks of Washington Street from Assembly to Gadsden streets was better known as Columbia’s Black Wall Street and once featured hundreds of locally-owned businesses that supplied goods + services to the community from the mid-20th century until the 1970s.

Some notable businesses that once opened their doors to the Columbia community included the law offices of Matthew Perry and Lincoln C. Jenkins, Lilliewood Barber Shop, the Greenleaf restaurant, the Capitol Theater + Hemphill Pride Law Firm.

As time passed, devastating fires and integration impacted most of these businesses that have moved or closed. Today, the North Carolina Mutual Building remains a historic foundation in what once was a booming business district.

There are thousands of Black-owned businesses across the Midlands. As Soda Citizens, we can walk past the new mural and remember the history of the businesses that can be traced back to Washington Street.

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Millennium Magazine Columbia SC News