The Backstreet Festival initiated in 1999 with Mr. Felix Herring’s vision to bring life back to a street that has a special place in the Wallace Town history. Back Street also known as Boney Street, paved the way for the community members and businesses to thrive. Back Street gave us the drive and the power to own our own businesses.
Mr. Hedrick McMillian, who opened the “Quick Lunch Cafe” in 1935, said that in his day things on Backstreet were “jumping”. He boasts that he sold Hotdogs and Hamburgers for 5¢ each, Fish sandwiches 15¢, Stewed Beef, Rice & Gravy was 15¢ for small and 25¢ for a large. His rent was $2.00 a week.
The mainstay of Wallace’s economy was the farmer whose living depended on tobacco, cattle, and swine. That is how the Backstreet area was able to prosper. The area expanded to other businesses such as Power’s Beauty Shop owned and operated by Mrs. Azilene Merritt, Roy Carter’s Fertilizer and Furniture store, local Funeral Home owned by Mr. Oscar Shaw and a Cafe’ owned by his wife Mary, the Army Surplus, Major Pearsall’s Shoe shop, Gave Boney’s auto parts, Sister’s Cafe’ run by Mrs. Arletha Parsons, a Cafe’ owned by Mrs. Thelma James, the Fish Market owned by Mr. Henry Bass, the Shoe Repair shop owned by Mr. Arthur Carlton and Mr. Johnny Robinson, the Grocery store run by Mr. Pope Robinson, Mrs. Linda Roger’s Beauty Salon, Levy’s Cafe’ and the place to dance was “Little Harlem”.
By this time, many people were coming to the area from all over the county and Backstreet was the gathering place to go to on Saturdays. Other events were, the tobacco warehouses in which big bands would come into the area from all over the United States. Some included Buddy Johnson, Louis Jordan, Cab Galloway, Fats Domino and James Brown.
Black people were glad to have somewhere to go, sit down and eat after working or shopping. Backstreet gave Black people a place for community and safety.