Dorr Street Live, Keeping the Pulse of the African-American Community

. August 19, 2016.
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Fifty years ago, walking down Dorr Street was like marching to the beat of a drum. The African-American culture thrived and evolved into a place where people could celebrate who they were down to the core. Now for the second year in a row, Dorr Street Live brings the heart and soul back with the help of the African American Legacy Project.

The festival brings back memories and accomplishes the AALP mission statement, “to stimulate the intellectual, socio economic, and participatory growth in communities wherein African Americans reside.”

Going back to the roots

The AALP was founded in 2004 as a way to preserve culture and also give way to the future. Known throughout Toledo as a museum, it contains around 6,000 images and a number of three-dimensional pieces. But according to director Robert Smith, its primary function is an archive.

“We’re a historical organization. We serve as a link between the African American community and its history in Northwest Ohio.”

Although the archives focus on artifacts found locally, the AALP have branched out to collect and support the community in other areas. Smith mentioned supporting Olympic athlete Jesse Owens from Cleveland and owning an artifact relating to Muhammed Ali.

The importance of this organization is to help bridge the modern community with the experiences of its past, a resource to learn more about the African- American community in Northwest Ohio. Smith says, “We use our history as a tool to educate the community. We don’t want the cultural symbols to be lost.”

Drumming up a good time

Robert Smith is a born and raised Toledoan. When reflecting on Dorr Street, he recalled it being, “essentially the heart and pulse of the African Community.” Now, bringing it back to life, the festival needed to be full of energy and soul.

This year a few new additions are being incorporated into Dorr Street Live. The opening ceremony will kick off with the Scott High School marching band performing the famous New Orleans Second Line. The AALP also partnered with the African American Wellness Walk, where free health checks and a community walk will commence.

Smith couldn’t be more thrilled with the additions. “We dreamed and we thought and eventually came to the conclusion that Second Line would be a great way to kick off the event.” He added, “The marchers should be in full regalia as well which is exciting.”

The more the community unites the better and that was Smith’s main thought on the Wellness Walk.

“The walk has been in existence for three years and we wanted to promote the free health screenings. It felt like a natural, logical fit.”

Dorr Street Live is coming back this year bigger and better. There will be food, fun, and entertainment for the whole family, but it goes beyond that. There is a pride and awareness that the African- American community feels as they embrace their heritage. It is an opportunity to be educated and included in a community that moves to the beat of its own drum.

For more information about the African American Legacy Project and Dorr Street Live, visit africanamericanlegacy.org.