Plan to Reopen Train Depot Could Help Shine A Little Light on Local African American Culture

By Edwin Crayton/Opinion

At the Monday August 26, 2019 meeting, the Natchitoches City Council introduced an ordinance that proposes that the City and the National Park Service partner to reopen the Trudeau Street Train Depot. The Park Service will lease the Depot from the City (which owns it). The Park Service will use the space for offices while also dedicating a space within the building to display local African American history. At this point as I understand it, they are referring to that space as an “interpretative center”. (It’s unclear what that will be. I hope it is more than a display or two in a corner. But it sounds hopeful.)

The ordinance is just an introduction at this point. It will have to go through the necessary stages and be voted on by the council Still, that evening, the news was greeted positively and for good reason. Many groups—including one I was part of—have tried to turn the beautiful 1920’s Art Deco Style depot into a black history museum, hoping it would highlight black history and add to the historic charm of Natchitoches. None of those plans succeeded. And I want to stress that this will also not be a museum. It’s actually simply, the Park Service moving offices from its current location into the Depot and offering a certain area to display African American Culture.

So in other words, if the ordinance passes the final vote, when you visit the National Park Service new offices at the Depot, you will be able to learn something about African American history as part of the visit. That may not seem like much to some. But I think it is significant that the depot will be reopened at all in the first place and that it will house information about local black culture in a neighborhood with a significant African American population. Families and especially children are just a short walk away. I give a thumbs up to both the City Council and The National Park Service and pray this wonderful plan will succeed I have always felt Natchitoches could and should do more to highlight the rich contributions of the African American people who have lived here in eras past. Although I realize recognizing African American Culture is just a small part of this project, it’s a small gesture that could surely help.

“Commit your work to the LORD and he will establish your plans.” –Proverbs 16:3

3 thoughts on “Plan to Reopen Train Depot Could Help Shine A Little Light on Local African American Culture

  1. Excellent article Edwin, I know you invest significant time & commitment in our local community, with no underlying agenda, & it is much appreciated.

    Wondering if perhaps, the area designated for African-American culture might include live interpretive performances. We have impressively talented theater & music resources at NSU, I could see a successful, creative collaboration through which to celebrate the music, art, dance & stories of our African-American community.

    In addition to visitors, if done correctly, the Depot could provide an enriching cultural experience to our local communities, especially our children, to whom it is so very important to learn of their history & culture

    Additionally, the original “Master Plan” for the Depot included it being a type of “hub,” to which (with new supporting infrastructure) visitor traffic to the Downtown Historic District would be funneled.

    Included in this “Master Plan” was a parking area, with trolley & carriage transportation to the downtown area. This would not only draw visitors to the Depot (where they would learn of our African-American community) but would address downtown parking issues, decrease downtown traffic congestion, while also supporting local transportation businesses.

    I would be interested in knowing if this original “Master Plan” will be a part of these (new) plans for the Depot.
    Praying this project will receive resounding approval & enthusiastic local support.

    Deb Bradford

  2. The side you don’t hear is the there we’re local businesses competing for that contract that took weeks to apply for would would have spent hundreds of thousands remodeling creating jobs and paid taxes for years and spread the income around the city for years to come
    But the city and Mayor will spend your tax dollars on a run down building and compete with local businesses .
    Shame On You

    • Been very disappointed in Posey. I didn’t vote for him but thought, after he won, maybe as a businessman he’d do okay. Instead he has only reinforced the reasons I didn’t vote for him and won’t ever. He is a walking disaster! Spends taxpayer money like there’s a bottomless pit of it. I thought McCollough was horrible as mayor, and he was, but Posey seems determined to be worse.

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