Right after MLK Day, former Decatur Mayor Elizabeth Wilson will give a talk about "the Beacon Hill Community and Civil Rights in Decatur."
She'll speak at noon Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the top courtroom/meeting space of the at 101 E Court Square, Decatur. The free event is part of the .
Beacon Hill was an African-American neighborhood near downtown Decatur bordered by Atlanta Avenue, Herring Street and Robin Street.
Much of the neighborhood was wiped out by urban renewal that started in the 1940s, as described in a 2010 article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
A press release from the DeKalb History Center says,
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.
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."
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 next Lunch and Learn session will be at noon March 20 when Mera Cardenas, executive director of the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, Inc.