Soul of Second Street Festival is Aug. 4-5: DBCAAHS celebrates 10th year

Published 9:40 am Tuesday, July 25, 2023

The Soul of Second Street Festival kicks off Friday, Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. and continues on Saturday, Aug. 5 at 4 p.m.

The festival is put on by the Danville Boyle County African American Historical Society every year. It’s a celebration of African American history in Boyle County, specifically focusing on the old Black business district that used to be on Second Street at the current Constitution Square site.

Almost all the buildings on that part of the street were torn down in the name of urban renewal in the 1970s. Much of the African American community centered around those businesses, and the festival makes a tribute to and carries on that spirit.

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The History Conference will be at Morley’s Backyard on Aug. 4 from 7 to 10 p.m. It will feature posters all around the building with historical information and articles, and representatives of the DBCAAHS will be available to answer questions.

People can meet with old friends, eat and drink, and walk around and read the posters. DBCAAHS President Michael Hughes said the goal of the History Conference is to share local Black history with people who aren’t part of the DBCAAHS, or who don’t know much about the history.

The Soul of Second Street goes from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Constitution Square Park on Aug. 5. It will have food vendors, merchandise, and a full lineup of bands. The music will include single acts, religious acts, blues bands, and others.

There will be a family activity tent with games, crafts and story-telling for children. Grayson Tavern will be open and selling DBCAAHS merchandise. They will have t-shirts, including a new t-shirt design, the book “African Americans in Boyle County,” the Orchid Girls Cookbook, and family histories researched by DBCAAHS Secretary Mike Denis.

Hughes said this year they have more / different participants and food vendors, but less merchandise. They had originally planned the festival for Aug. 11-12, but those dates ended up not working, and they moved it earlier so the festival could still happen before the school year starts. Both days are free and open to the public.

The DBCAAHS is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and the festival is helping to celebrate the occasion. Hughes said the anniversary is in conjunction with the annual festival, but the festival is still mainly celebrating Black people and history.

“We plan on doing the festival every year as long as we can, but this year is a little more special because it is our 10 year anniversary,” Hughes said.

Hughes said the society is all about sharing history with the community, and they are proud of all they’ve done. The society has had a successful past year. Hughes and Denis released a book of historical photos titled “African Americans in Boyle County.” They also collaborated with Centre College’s Norton Center in putting on the “We Were Here” exhibit about urban renewal, which stayed up at the Norton Center for the entire 2022-23 school year.

The society has collected a lot of history from locals, and has done oral history interviews for local archives. Hughes said they try to collect this history before people pass away, which some of them have.

“It’s hard to do something for 10 years, and it’s hard because you have people who pass on, but luckily none of us have passed on, we’re still here,” Hughes said.

Hughes explained that Linda Warren, Martha Clark and Charles Grey made the foundations for the DBCAAHS, and he joined them in the effort. Their anniversary will be a celebration of where they are, what they’ve accomplished, and of the people a part of it.

“When we celebrate this we celebrate all those things, when Black folks had no place else to celebrate; when they couldn’t go around the corner and get a hamburger, but they didn’t care. They cared but they weren’t going to let that stop them from being who they were,” Hughes said.

He said the society also wants to remember the lost culture of closeness in the community, when people left their doors unlocked for neighbors to come in anytime; and in the 60s when there were eight or nine social clubs just in the African American community.

“Sometimes it’s just good to get together and enjoy each other, because the thing I think that’s been lost in so many years is the closeness of the community,” Hughes said.

Hughes said the DBCAAHS may have more 10th anniversary celebrations later in the year, possibly around Christmas.

Hughes said since his wife has been having health issues, many other volunteers have stepped up to work on the festival, and he wanted to thank them.

The lineup of bands on Aug. 5 are as follows:

Welcome and Prayer by Gary Johnson, FBC Second and Walnut

• 4 to 4:45 p.m. – First Baptist Church Male Chorus

• 4:45 to 5:30 p.m. – The Greens

• 5:30 to 6 p.m. – Renita Gray

• 6 to 6:45 p.m. – Carey Band

• 6:45 to 7:05 p.m. – Robbie Houston

• 7:05 to 8:05 p.m. – Joyful Souls

• 8:05 to 9:05 p.m. – Salt River Band

• 9:05 to 10 p.m. – Soul in the Park with Michaelfly Music