Saturday, January 3, 2009

Update from Columbus, GA

So, it's late...very late.... And we're tired...very tired.... But we thought we would throw up a quick post tonight before turning in.

Yesterday we were in Columbia, SC and today we are in Columbus, GA. As if things weren't already running together.... This morning, on the way out of town, we went downtown to the state capitol, where we saw this:

Top left: a Confederate soldier; Top Right: the Confederate Flag; Bottom Left: My colleague eating an egg sandwich from Drake's Duck-In, home of "Quackin' Good Food"

This was disheartening after spending last night having a long conversation with our gracious host Peter Duffy, a transplant to the South who spoke very eloquently (those audio clips are coming, I swear!) about the presence of racism throughout the United States and the trap that Americans often fall into of using the South as a scapegoat for their own racism. It can be all too easy to say, "Well, at least we're not the South!" And he's right. It's easy to lay the burden of racism in the whole country on this region because of the long and well-documented story of race here. That story is an important one. It's why we're here. It's why we're doing this project. I can, however, tell you from my own experience that you would be hard-pressed to find a more racist place in the U.S. than New York City.

That said, it's incredibly difficult to remember that when you're staring at a symbol like that being brazenly flown on the front lawn of the State House. You might remember a huge controversy over the flag being flown over the capitol dome in 2000. It caused such a stir that the state finally felt compelled to take it down...and put it on the front lawn....

Then again, when we pan out, we can see the Christmas tree they've erected this holiday season about two feet in front of the thing:

So right now, when you look at the State House from the street, this is what you see:

Either they have a decorator with a highly conflicted subconscious or somebody knew what they were doing here.

After that we drove to Columbus, where we had another round of great interviews and we are looking forward to a whole lot more tomorrow.

As for the interviews we have "in the can," so to speak, here's a pretty simple breakdown of what we have so far:

A retired engineer.
A retired administrative assistant.
The director of a Civil Rights museum.
The press director of a Civil Rights museum.
A Civil Rights activist and retired business executive turned consultant.
A sociologist.
Another sociologist and Civil Rights Activist.
A Secretary to a governor.
Two coordinators at a Youth LGBTQ non-profit.
An administrative assistant at that non-profit.
The artistic director of a theatre.
The director of an artists collaborative.
A ski instructor.
A public school teacher/administrator.
A painter.
A minister.
A manager at a nightclub.
A retired police officer.
A professor/teaching artist.
An actor.
Another artistic director of a theatre.
Another actor.
A student.

I don't want to you to think I'm limiting people by their profession, implying that it defines their whole being, but I thought it was an interesting breakdown to take a look at while we try to build the most comprehensive cross-section possible. We have our ideas about who we still feel we need to hit, but if you can think of any, please let us know.



  1. Hello there! I have posted a blog about you guys and linked to you in both the post and in my little section called "blogs I read."

    Best of luck in the rest of you journey!

    **Anthony says hello!**

  2. My luck i find this 11 months later.Finally,this is the first time that someone agrees or admits that it not just the south that if i could just find someone to admit that whites are'nt the only ones.but I won't hold my breath