In this piece, a longtime Gram Parsons fan grows suspicious of the myths that surround the singer's life and music. A visit to Waycross, Georgia; interviews with people connected to Parsons's South Georgia childhood; and investigations of the area's musical, industrial, and socioeconomic histories reveal whose stories are heard and whose are silenced by such myths. The piece explores how one might hear the oppressive structures that echo in the music, such as the exploitation of Black laborers, the anti-Black violence of the region, the deforestation of South Georgia's longleaf grassland, and the impact of that ecological harm on Black and white family farmers.
The mysterious Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve in Atlanta is no longer a lake, nor a nature preserve, but a private two hundred–acre wilderness next to a landfill. This former public lake has a long and complicated history, including a suburban fishing club, a tragic debutante, botched plans for an inner-city campground, dumped bodies, and a landfill thwarted by organized Black neighbors. How did this once prized destination end up preserved in a state of arrested development? In 2019, as the landfills are capped and this corner of Atlanta begins to gentrify, the city considers whether to preserve Lake Charlotte again. In this personal essay, the author creeps through the fence to see what's left of the lake, the dam, and the Paleolithic quarry sites. Can Atlanta overcome a development pattern that paired neighborhoods for "Negro expansion" with industrial contamination? Fenced off for forty years, can nature—and the community—repair itself?
This article examines the role that Atlanta's Grant Park (1883) played in promoting the idea of social continuity between the Old and New Souths in the final decades of the nineteenth century. By the 1880s, Atlanta's leaders successfully leveraged their city's quick recovery from the Civil War to present it as an exemplar of New South success that would lead the region into an era of prosperity. As they did, they simultaneously sought to reassure white citizens that the march into the future did not require them to abandon their cultural attachment to the romanticized Old South. Consequently, they simulated the purported environmental and social conditions of the antebellum period within the grounds of Grant Park in order to reassure white Atlantans that central tenets of antebellum society would be maintained amid the push for modernization. The result was a space that privileged a conception of southern identity premised on white supremacy and patriarchal control above all others and codified social difference within the landscape.