Back Street gathering Saturday will document, share Laurens history

A grassroots effort and an invitation to remember the importance of “Back Street” in Laurens has prompted several Laurens residents and Laurens natives to plan a “Back Street Market” this Saturday. Their hope is to bring people together who can provide their memories about an area of vital economic and cultural importance to the African American community in Laurens.

Set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday, Sep. 21, residents can pay a fee of $10 and set up a booth in the area that used to hold Pughsley’s Pharmacy at 115 North Harper Street, Laurens. The pharmacy was owned by Dr. Ralph Pughsley,  the first African American pharmacist in Laurens.

    Laurens resident and Pughsley’s granddaughter, Cassandra Campbell, will bring her laptop and try to capture stories from those who attend. Her aunts and Pughsley’s daughters, Ralphine Pughsley and Virginia Wiggins, from Maryland and Ohio, respectively, are also here for the market.
     “We planned the event to create an opportunity to bring the community together in a spirit of unity and nostalgia,” said Campbell, who provided flyers to members of Laurens City Council on Tuesday. “I’ll be there with my laptop and we want to document those stories about Back Street.”
      The youth of Laurens need to learn about the heritage of the many successful business owners who had service and retail shops there, Campbell said. They were important to the economic and cultural life of the African American community in Laurens, Campbell said.
    “We are hoping this effort will reinvigorate passion and pride while highlighting the talents and resourcefulness of those in the past,” Campbell said. “We want to address modern-day needs while remembering our rich history provided by my grandfather and other pillars.”
    Anyone needing more information or to rent a booth can contact Campbell at 864-981-5470. She explained that proceeds will go toward hurricane relief.
    “We foresee  this as a perfect way to bless the people of The Bahamas during their great need,” Campbell said. “Grandpa was extremely benevolent and we want to carry on that legacy too.”

4 Comments

  1. Diane Jackson McDowell on September 22, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Wished I’d been aware of this awesome event! Will this continue, or was it a one time event?

    • Ralphine Pughsley on September 25, 2019 at 6:45 am

      Hi Diane, we plan to stage several events on the “Back Street” until we decide on the right businesses to reestablish on our properties. I also plan to build a social media site to capture “Back Street” information, therefore looking for the Laurens community in this efforts! Thanks!

  2. JIMMIE E. WILLIAMS, MD on September 26, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    Ralphene, Virginia and grandchildren:
    I’m glad the festival was so successful. Dr. Pughsley was one of the most intelligent and respected persons whom I’ve ever known. A true mentor. He will forever live in my memory. I think that this is a terrific project you’ve undertaken to carry on his legacy.
    Jimmie E. Williams, MD (Atlanta, GA)

    • Ralphine Pughsley on September 26, 2019 at 9:25 pm

      Hi Jimmie, and thank you for your warm comments regarding our father. I always remember you as one of the very smart ones, and my father admired you for that…He enjoyed mentoring you, and continued to be proud of you. The family plans to rebuild, and hope that memories will be revived. We hope for the communities support, as it was in the past on Back Street. Take care! -Ralphine-

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