Separate and unequal: Preserving Jim Crow

Equalization schools were the South’s futile attempt to cling to Jim Crow segregation. They were built throughout Georgia, South Carolina, and other Deep South states as a last ditch effort to forestall court-ordered public school integration. According to Georgia architectural historian Steven Moffson, his state had the greatest number of schools built to preserve the separate but equal doctrine that ultimately was dismantled under the 1954 landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.

Decatur’s Beacon Elementary and Trinity High schools were among the hundreds of equalization schools built in Georgia after World War II. They were constructed in 1955 and 1956 on the site where the city had maintained its African American school, the Herring Street School, since the early twentieth century. In early 2013, three years after receiving a $10,000 historic preservation grant that should have led to the property’s protection, the City of Decatur began demolishing parts of the two schools to build a new police headquarters and civic plaza. Continue reading

Precious Bryant: 1942-2013

Earlier this week the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia blues musician Precious Bryant had died January 12 at age 71. I interviewed Bryant in 1990 for the defunct Atlanta alt-weekly Footnotes and I shot a roll of Plus-X of her performing at the 1990 North Georgia Folk Festival with one-armed harmonica player Neal Pattman (1926-2005).

Bryant, a Talbot County, Ga., native told me about how she learned to play guitar as a small child. “I learned the guitar when it was bigger than I was,” she said. “I was dragging it around; I couldn’t tote it.”

A versatile folk musician, Bryant was a regular at Georgia festivals. She also played festivals throughout the U.S. and in Europe. Blues was her first choice in music.

“I play the blues, but every now and then I throw a little rock ‘n’ roll in,” Bryant said in 1990. “I like the blues because it tells the truth. If there’s something you ain’t done, you are just going to end up doing it and so the songs just tell you the truth.”

Here are some of the photos I shot on sunny Saturday in Sandy Creek Park in October 1990.

Bryant-Pattman-04 Continue reading