Mayor Emerita Elizabeth Wilson To Speak About Beacon Hill Community

From a recent DeKalb History Center press release…

DECATUR – The DeKalb History Center’s Lunch and Learn Series kicks off in 2012 with a presentation by Mayor Emerita Elizabeth Wilson, who will speak about the Beacon Hill Community.  Beacon Hill was an African-American neighborhood near downtown Decatur which was bordered by Atlanta Avenue, Herring Street and Robin Street.  Elizabeth will discuss the churches, neighborhood and the schools.  She has interviewed early residents and some of their children for additional history.  The segregated schools included Herring Street School (later Herring -Trinity High School) and Beacon Elementary School.  Beacon is now home to the city’s police and recreation departments.

This area was re-developed beginning in 1949 in an effort to “clear slums in Decatur” and provide low-cost housing in a specifically segregated area.  The city followed the practices seen across the south in the 1950s where towns tore down homes and buildings in “blighted areas.”   Sometimes these areas were then redeveloped with new housing projects.

Elizabeth Wilson moved to Beacon Hill in 1949 and has played a key role in helping to end segregation in Decatur’s public institutions.  She was elected to the City Commission in 1984 and became Decatur’s first African-American mayor in 1993.

The lecture is Tuesday, January 17 at 12:00 noon at the Old Courthouse on the Square and is free of charge.  Guests are encouraged to bring a lunch to eat during the program.

7 thoughts on “Mayor Emerita Elizabeth Wilson To Speak About Beacon Hill Community”

  1. Oh, I am so wanting to go to this. I’ve been dying to know more of this history. Unfortunately, it’s the day after the MLK holiday and may be hard to get off work to attend. I hope that Decatur TV or someone else can film this.

    1. There is Decatur TV? How do I find it?

      Andisheh, show them What you discovered about the area on Google Earth. 🙁

  2. I have heard her talk on this subject before and my advice is – don’t miss this ! It’s living history at several levels. If you’re lucky she may invite a few other people who also grew up there. The era of widespread segregation is falling further behind us and we need to understand what it was like and road from then to now.

  3. She does a wonderful job. Unfortunately, segregation is not behind us. In fact, Harvard University conducts indepth research on the subject. Our communities and schools are returning to a very segregated status. The City Schools are a huge lesson. When White flight came to the area in the 70s our schools looked a bit different. In the last seven years or so, the City of Decatur, neighborhoods like Oakhurst have changed significantly. Oakhurst Elementary, at one time was a school with a primarily Black student population. We need to hear Elizabeth’s history, and talk about where Decatur and America goes from here. Economically, our Decatur is a place that is not affordable to many. It is what it is.

    1. I would like to ask her what she thinks or can recommend the Decatur community do to maintain the much diminished diversity we still have.

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