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.