Cotton Avenue Re-visited

Beginning with the Jim Crow era of the late 1940’s and onto the mid 1970’s, Cotton Avenue was the epicenter of African American commerce in downtown Americus. Black businesses lined the street with their own insurance companies (4), restaurants, nightclub/dancehall, beauty and barber salons, billiard parlors and package stores. These businesses operated as informal gathering spaces between home and work. Born as zones of reprieve and necessity, they not only stimulated economic activity, but they also acted as cultural vehicles that replicated community norms and social values. These close-knit businesses ultimately emerged as oases for black residents that created spaces for them simply to be present, to exist, and to belong.

The ASCMRC has begun collaborating with the city of Americus to pay homage to the former businesses of Cotton Avenue and the owners who operated them. Plans are evolving to create a colorful mural on the wall of a building at the intersection of Cotton Avenue and Lamar Street. The mural will re-create the street and include portraits of the men and women who breathed life into it. It is projected that work on the mural will begin during the summer of 2023.