Civil Sights
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Civil Sights

Sweet Auburn, a Journey through Atlanta's National Treasure

Gene Kansas

Illustrated by Clay Kiningham

Afterword by Jacqueline Royster

Foreword by Gary Pomerantz

Title Details

Pages: 224

Illustrations: 45 b&w sketches

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in

Formats

Paperback

Pub Date: 02/01/2025

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6770-5

List Price: $29.95

eBook

Pub Date: 02/01/2025

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6772-9

List Price: $29.95

eBook

Pub Date: 02/01/2025

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6771-2

List Price: $29.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

A copublication of Georgia Humanities and the University of Georgia Press

Published with the generous support of Bradley Hale Fund for Southern Studies

Civil Sights

Sweet Auburn, a Journey through Atlanta's National Treasure

Gene Kansas

Illustrated by Clay Kiningham

Afterword by Jacqueline Royster

Foreword by Gary Pomerantz

An illustrated history of a significant Atlanta community and the movement to preserve it

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Once the wealthiest Black neighborhood in the world, the Sweet Auburn Historic District in Atlanta, Georgia, now occupies a distinct place, both historically and geographically. It is at once the globally significant birthplace of the civil rights movement; and it also lays in the wake of social, commercial, and urban challenges that have left some of its most important spaces and places in a state of peril—and even in danger of demolition—as Atlanta grows in, around, and over it.

Now, for the first time, author, preservationist, and cultural developer Gene Kansas shines a spotlight on the district in Civil Sights. An illustrated and historic guidebook designed to educate visitors and inspire action, Civil Sights not only describes and depicts historically significant Sweet Auburn buildings and streets; it also tells the stories of people and places, then and now, that came together to move mountains before, during, and after the civil rights movement.

These are the streets and buildings in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Congressman John Lewis, Roslyn Pope, Alonzo Herndon, Ella Baker, John Wesley Dobbs, and countless others laid the groundwork for a social movement of equality that would sweep the country, change laws, and positively affect lives around the world. With accounts of such places as the first integrated fire station and the Butler Street YMCA that served as Atlanta’s “Black City Hall,” and of the churches, restaurants, and entertainment halls that have dotted the neighborhood, Kansas unspools a riveting history that also aims to illuminate a path to preservation. Most importantly, Civil Sights poses questions of historical accountability to us all: How are we educating, advocating, and investing in the causes that Sweet Auburn represents?

This volume includes illustrations from Atlanta architect Clay Kiningham, a foreword from New York Times best-selling author and journalist Gary M. Pomerantz, and an afterword from former dean of Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts Jacqueline Jones Royster.

As a native Atlantan, Civil Sights: Sweet Auburn is a refreshing read. The collections of essays are concise, and the illustrations evoke images of what once was and what are now memories. Civil Sights highlights lesser-known leaders of the civil rights movement and their contributions. Leaders such as Peter James Bryant, Emily S. Cox and her sons—a few civil rights activists whose contributions are largely unknown to the general public. It was a pleasant surprise to read the essay on Charles Lincoln Harper, a lesser-known leader whose contributions are immeasurable.

—Leslie Spencer, lecturer at Georgia State University and the founder of Sankofa Cultural Resources

About the Author/Editor

Gene Kansas is a real estate developer and historic preservationist. He headed up the preservation of the Atlanta Daily World building in Sweet Auburn, which was named the #2 Preservation Win by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and is founder of award-winning Constellations, a civic, social, and culturally based shared workspace in Sweet Auburn. His writing has appeared in Atlanta Magazine, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Business Chronicle, Creative Loafing, and Main Street Now Journal. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.