Atlanta became the first major city in the South to elect an African American mayor in 1974 and has elected an African American mayor in every election since. Black residents in metro Atlanta earn college degrees at a rate nearly 50% higher than the national black average.
when ebony magazine When Atlanta, Georgia, was named the “Mecca of the Black South” in 1971, it was less than a decade after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
According to author Phyllis “Phil” T. Garland, in Atlanta “blacks had more, lived better, achieved more, and were more effective than anywhere else in the South or North.” “We’re dealing with white people.” Slowly but surely, this trend is spreading beyond city boundaries.
Rural areas on the outskirts of cities that once relied on enslaved people for labor are now home to many African American professionals who commute to cities for work. One such community is Stockbridge. Stockbridge is located 30 minutes south of Atlanta and is where Martin Luther King his senior was born in 1899.
Martin Luther King Sr. Heritage Trail
Racial disparities have diminished in Stockbridge since 1899. Signs along historic streets downtown direct visitors. Martin Luther King Sr. Heritage Trail Founded in 2015. The eponymous boulevard connects the community to downtown. This road leads to Floyd Chapel Baptist Church. Martin Luther King Sr. worshiped there as a child and gave his first sermon in 1915, at the age of 15.
The older King, also known as “Papa King,” was himself a leader in the civil rights movement. He became assistant pastor at his Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta in 1927 and senior pastor in 1931. He led the church through the Great Depression and by 1934 was a widely respected church leader.
Daddy King served as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church for 40 years, influencing the black community and gaining respect from the enlightened sections of the white community. As a local leader in the civil rights movement, he served on the executive committee of the Atlanta NAACP branch and on the board of the Citizens Political League.
He also encouraged his son to actively participate in athletics.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his essay “The Autobiography of Religious Development”: This is not to say that he ever spoke to me from a pastoral perspective, but rather that my admiration for him was a major moving factor. He set a noble example that I felt comfortable following. ”
juxtaposition of old and new
Just 30 miles north is Stone Mountain, Georgia, and just 26 miles from downtown Atlanta. The site of the world’s largest bas-relief sculpture depicting three Confederate leaders: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson was completed in 1972. Stone Mountain Park officially opened on April 14, 1965, in time for its 100th anniversary. The anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Thankfully, things are changing.
As you walk along Stockbridge’s downtown district, you’ll see a difference in Henry County. You’ll notice BarnBeautiful woodshop among the boutiques downtown. There, artisans transform reclaimed wood from old barns into handmade interior decorations. Store manager and head craftsman Chris Bradley can often be found behind the counter working on his latest projects.
Bradley is always open to conversation and is quick to tell you why he loves what he does. “I found that working with my hands brings me closer to the world than anything else,” Bradley says with a laugh. “It is spiritually fulfilling to work with a forest that has seen thousands of experiences over thousands, even hundreds of years, to feel its history and help shape its future.”
He picks up a board and explains that the imperfections in the wood are the most beautiful parts, and that with polish and hard work, that beauty is revealed.
As you leave BarnBeautiful and follow the downtown strip, the coexistence of old and new is evident. Passing the exposed foundations of Stockbridge Station, which was demolished in the 1980s, you’ll see the new City Hall and amphitheater. This construction was not Stockbridge’s first move.
More than 140 years ago, in 1882, present-day Stockbridge was established one mile south of Old Stockbridge to accommodate the expansion of the Southern Railway and plans for a railroad station. Trains still pass through Stockbridge, but they don’t stop or blow their horns. But their legacy continues, including by outlining the historic heart of Stockbridge’s African American community, once considered “on the wrong side of the tracks.”
Travel the Martin Luther King Sr. Heritage Trail
of green front cafe It’s just down the street. This historic sign in front of the building reads, “The Green Front Cafe was a popular gathering place from the late 1940s to the early 2000s. It was synonymous with Mrs. Brick. She was known for serving delicious hamburgers, hot dogs and soul food delicacies, especially her famous cornbread.”
It is believed that this small cafe was Henry County’s first restaurant. Under Hambrick’s stewardship, everyone felt welcome. Black and white residents ate together under the same roof, regardless of widespread segregation practices.
Carrie Mae must have had some really good cornbread to challenge the color barrier in Georgia in the 1940s.
Just the mention of its name evokes fond memories of many who frequented this place when Ms. Carrie May owned and operated it. Diane D. Miller, the new owner and curator of the Green Front Cafe, said it was important to her to reopen “The Green Lady” and restore it with as much authentic Henry County touches as possible. He told me a reason.
Miller recognized the cafe as a symbol of a hopeful and resilient community. When she began renovating the building, she commissioned her BarnBeautiful to help weave the community into the cafe’s very fabric by incorporating reclaimed wood from her nearby Broder Farm into the ceiling beams.
Today, visitors who walk through the doors of Green Front Cafe are welcomed like family. This is a throwback to a time when neighbors knew each other and communities cared about the people who lived there. For Miller, it was essential to create “a place to preserve stories and create new memories.”
After the cafe’s grand reopening in May 2023, Miller commissioned Barn Beautiful to create a miniature replica of the Green Front Cafe as a community symbol that would tell a story beyond the four walls of the space. His Green Front Cafe welcomes anyone visiting Stockbridge looking for a history lesson, great food, and Southern hospitality.
The King Legacy
Eating delicious cornbread and fried catfish will help you feel welcome, but change isn’t always easy and there’s still work to be done. When asked, Miller shares how she supports local charities and participates in other community support programs, as poverty still persists in the area. I’ll give it to you.
At the height of the civil rights movement, the King family gave their all to the cause.
On April 3, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. said: last speech. In a strong, confident voice, he began by saying: “Martin Luther King, what era would you like to live in?”
Dr. King’s speech came through a great moment of change and freedom. He stops at the Exodus from Egypt, the birth of philosophy in ancient Greece, the growth of civic leadership in the Roman Empire, and the revival of scholarship in the Renaissance. He mentioned Lincoln’s leadership in the Emancipation Proclamation and President Franklin Roosevelt’s inaugural address.
After honoring the past, he accepted to live in the present. “Strangely enough, I turned to Almighty God and said, “If you just let me live a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I’ll be happy.”
Later that night, a single bullet fired outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis claimed King’s life. Martin Luther King Jr. was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. King Sr.’s wife Alberta was murdered on June 30, 1974. Dr. King lived to be 84 years old and died of natural causes in Atlanta.
Stockbridge is a dream come true
Thanks to Mrs. Carrie Mae’s cornbread, Dr. King’s sermons, and the fervor of the civil rights movement, color barriers are disappearing not only in Stockbridge but throughout Henry County.
According to the 2000 census, of the approximately 122,000 people living in the county, 81.38% were white and 14.68% were black or African American. By 2020, the population was 35.85% white and 48.37% black or African American, giving the county a population of 239,000.
Residents embrace this transition from a farming community to a bedroom community for wealthy Atlanta families pursuing the American dream. Stockbridge, Henry County’s largest city, has been named one of America’s top 10 cities in the United States for African Americans. livability.com.
History is a winding, complex path traveled by conscious preservation: barn wood, cornbread recipes, historic trails. Georgia’s Martin Luther King Sr. Heritage Trail and Stockbridge tells the stories of the great people who came before us. Their challenges and triumphs, their heartbreaks and hard work, and above all their unwavering commitment to dreams of freedom and equality. For everything.
This article was created by Media decisions Syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.