I recently took a long road trip through the South on my Christmas vacation. I found time to visit the State Capitols of the old Confederacy, and had plenty of time to reflect as the the hours wore on and the Georgian swamps gave way to the Tennessee foothills.
The South drips with this history, it’s almost impossible to ignore, and despite all of the progress, the racial divides still run deep in many areas, even in the areas that seem more progressive.
I stopped in Macon Georgia for a night, not quite having the will to push on to Atlanta that day. I am glad I stopped because it is a beautiful city, one of the few in the area that survived the Civil War in tact. That evening in Macon I stopped by a well reviewed restaurant called The Rookery, which had excellent food and a wonderful atmosphere, but as I stood in the crowded restaurant waiting for my table, it occurred to me that there was not a single Black person in the place. I pulled out my phone and checked the demographics for the city; 67% Black. A majority of the population of Macon is Black, and yet looking around the room in this popular local spot, you’d never guess it.
The next morning was a Sunday, and I decided to drive around the town a bit in daylight so I could take in some of the architecture. The city was relatively quite, except in the blocks around the churches, where most of the town’s population seemed to be. Around the large ornate churches in the nice part of town, hardly a Black person was to be seen. Across town where the buildings were ramshackle, the yards overgrown, and the businesses shuttered, in the lots of those small dilapidated churches, hardly a White person was to be seen.
It struck me rather forcefully that I was standing in beautiful city that was built by the hands of Black Slaves, paid for with the profit of decades of unpaid Black Labor, grown in the prosperous bosom of a wealthy South, fat and content atop a commerce fueled by millions of Black lives, that was the history of the place where I stood, and yet, looking around, even after all these years, the Black population has only a meager share of the South they built, relegated by in large to impoverished neighborhoods on the far side of the tracks, and despite being the majority of the cities population, being mostly absent from the Middle class venues of Macon.
In any event, these issues weighted heavily on me during my trip, and the below video is part of my thoughts on the matter.