Culture Expo in Nacogdoches: Reconnecting to our heritage

Fabric artist shares her memories through her work

Culture Expo in Nacogdoches: Reconnecting to our heritage

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The Community Improvement Program has a simple but meaningful mission statement, according to member and Culture Expo coordinator Joyce Mills.

"We want to enhance our community by giving them history and knowledge of our African American culture."

So when the group’s Culture Expo comes around, the black and white photos come out and the trip down memory lane begins. This year Shawnee Street’s history is the focus.

Mills and friend, Lottie Chatman, have fun together recognizing people who shaped the African American community in Nacogdoches.

This year the focus will be placed on the history of Shawnee Street, once a bustling business area.

"In the past there were 52 different businesses on Shawnee Street. We had doctors. We had dentists. We had cafes. And they told me they even had a hospital," shared Mills.

Integration changed the segregated neighborhood, but it doesn't minimize hard work. It's a lesson Lottie Chatman learned over fabric scraps.

"It’s called, ‘Chicken Feet-a la Lottie,’ said Chatman proudly over a whimsical quilt-top of colorful chickens. It’s just one of many quilts Chatman will have on display at the Culture Expo.

"You used everything you had around the house. You didn't throw very much away," said Chatman about a rule she still follows today.

It was a necessity considering the size of Chatman’s family.

"My mother, my father, myself and my 14 siblings."

The fabric artist thanks her parents for teaching the family an important lesson that she will share with others at Saturday's Culture Expo.

"Helping me to remember how we came about and what we can contribute to society," said Chatman.

The Community Improvement Program presentation of the Culture Expo is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at McMichael Middle School. The event is free.

Anyone wanting to participate can contact Rev. A.D. Mills at 936-371-0759 or 936-552-9324. Vice President Rev. T. Hicks can also be contacted at 936-645-9244. Both men can also provide information about the Community Improvement Program.

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