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Interview with Geneva Blasingame, July 12, 2013

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia


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00:00:01 - Interview introduction

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Partial Transcript: This is the First Person Project, interview number fourteen.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer makes introductions.

00:00:36 - Family, early community, displacement by UGA

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Partial Transcript: I guess we'd like to start by asking you, um, about where and when you were born? Um, and then just tell us about your experience here in Athens.

Segment Synopsis: Blasingame describes the structure of her life with her family and the Linnentown community. She talks about what happened when UGA told her father that her family would be forced to move to make way for campus development.

Keywords: 1950s; 1960s; Athens, Georgia; Baxter Street; Bray Camp; Childhood; Church Street; Cloverhurst Avenue; Development; Dining hall; Discrimination; Displacement; East Athens School; Education; Family; Fine Arts Building; Finley Street; Fourth Street; Home ownership; Janitor; Lindentown; Lumpkin Street; Lyndon Row; Mama Carrie; Neighborhoods; Newton Street; Peabody Street; Pope Street; Reese Street School; Segregation; Snelling Hall; Snowball; The Tree that Owned Itself; UGA; University of Georgia; Work

GPS: Former location of Lyndon Row (Athens, GA)
Map Coordinates: 33.949043, -83.381881
00:05:13 - 1950s and 1960s black community

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Partial Transcript: Can you tell us more about what that house was like?

Segment Synopsis: Blasingame describes the infrastructure and location of her childhood community and the ways residents supported each other. She includes details about education and community gardening.

Keywords: Baxter Street; Broad Street; Church; Church Street; Cloverhurst Avenue; Crops; Discrimination; Education; Family; Finley Street; Gardening; Gertrude Clark; Hogs; Home; Infrastructure; Jeruel Academy; Lyndon Row; Neighborhoods; Newton Street; Outhouse; Ownership; Parkview Apartments; Peabody Street; Roads; Rural; Schools; Segregation; Self sufficiency; Sustainability; U.S. Army; Union Institute; Urban farming

00:10:40 - Changes since the 1960s

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Partial Transcript: How has the view from the front door of the house that you just moved into--how has that changed since you moved in there in the '60s?

Segment Synopsis: Blasingame discusses how her current neighborhood has changed since the 1960s. She talks about the relationships she has maintained from her early community on Lyndon Row.

Keywords: 1960s; Athens, Georgia; Baxter Street; Community; Cooks; Crime; Displacement; Education; Family; Gentrification; Gertrude Clark; Janitors; Neighborhoods; Peabody Street; Professors; School; Snelling Hall; Teachers; UGA; Union Institute; University of Georgia; Work

GPS: Peabody Street (Athens, GA)
Map Coordinates: 33.948743, -83.384580
00:13:52 - Work, picking cotton / Shopping downtown

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Partial Transcript: Since you grew up in, um, segregated times in Athens, what did you guys do for extracurricular activities? Like, what did you guys do for fun? Or where did you guys hang out?

Segment Synopsis: Blasingame talks about going to work picking cotton with her mother in the summers and going shopping downtown with her sister on Saturdays.

Keywords: Athens, Georgia; Baxter Street; Brogans; Childhood; Clayton Street; Cloverhurst Avenue; Diana Shop; Downtown; Edwards Grocery; Fine Arts Building; Finley Street; Flea market; Hot Corner; Kurd market; Lumpkin Street; Lyndon Row; Marie Johnson; McClellan's; Picking cotton; S.H. Kress and Co.; Saddle oxfords; Segregation; Shopping; Snelling Hall; Work

GPS: Clayton Street (Athens, GA)
Map Coordinates: 33.958372, -83.376378
00:17:13 - Church and religion / Marriage and children

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Partial Transcript: Did your family belong to a church?

Segment Synopsis: Blasingame discusses her family church. She mentions UGA forcing her family and neighbors to move from Lyndon Row. She talks about her children and meeting her first husband.

Keywords: Arnold's Grove Baptist Church; Athens, Georgia; Baptism; Baptist; Basketball; Clarke Central High School; Cloverhurst Avenue; Community; Deacon; Displacement; Faith; Family; Gender roles; Home; Infrastructure; Lexington Road; Lyndon Row; Marriage; Methodist; Percy Eberhart; Religion; Rural; Saint James Church; UGA; University of Georgia; Water

00:20:34 - Graduating school / Life in segregated Athens

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Partial Transcript: Kind of backtracking, after you finished high school--did you finish high school?

Segment Synopsis: Blasingame discusses her decision to turn down a scholarship at Albany State College. She gives examples of segregation policies while living near UGA.

Keywords: 1960s; Albany State College; Arctic Girl; Athens, Georgia; Baldwin Music; Choke's Sanitone Dry Cleaning Co; College; Dairy Queen; Dry cleaners; High school; Legion Field; Legion Pool; Lindentown; Music; Neighborhoods; Redcoat Marching Band; Scholarship; Segregation; UGA; University of Georgia

00:22:16 - Civil rights demonstrations

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Partial Transcript: But it changed, praise God. I did demonstrate (laughter). That was a good time.

Segment Synopsis: Blasingame talks about participating in local civil rights protests in the early 1960s. She mentions demonstrating at The Varsity and Horton's Drug Store. She explains that white backlash mostly came from surrounding rural counties.

Keywords: 1960s; A&A Bakery; Athens, Georgia; Baxter Street; Broad Street; Charlayne Hunter-Galt; Civil rights movement; Clarke County; Clayton Street; Cloverhurst Avenue; College Avenue; Death threats; Demonstrations; Discrimination; Domestic workers; Edwards Grocery; Family; Finley Street; Hamilton Holmes; High school; Horton's Drug Store; Integration; Jail; Ku Klux Klan; Lumpkin Street; Madison County; Mama Carrie; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Oconee County; Oglethorpe County; Police; Racism; Ron Hudson; Rural; Sit-ins; Snowball; The Varsity

00:27:25 - Working / Blasingame's children and their careers

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Partial Transcript: What kind of jobs did you have, well, like your whole life, like--you know?

Segment Synopsis: Blasingame discusses the many factory jobs she held in Athens. She talks about her children, their educations, and their careers. She mentions the sudden death of her son, Percy Eberhart.

Keywords: ABB, Inc.; AMA; American Medical Association; Anderson College; Athens, Georgia; Basketball; Children; Cleveland Road; Computers; Creation Windows; Discrimination; Education; Florida; Gibson's Discount Center; Glass; Heart attack; Henson Garment Co; Huntington Park; Lyons Textile Mill, Inc.; Newton Bridge Road; Percy Eberhart; Poultry processing plant; Power Partners; Racism; Segregation; Sewing factory; Sheet rock; Steinmart; Thomas Street; UGA; University of Georgia; Washington, D.C.; Westclox; Work

00:30:11 - Losing home and community in Linnentown / Black experience in Athens

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Partial Transcript: Earlier when we--we first showed you this 1950 map, um, you got a little emotional. Can--is there anything else that you haven't shared with us that kind of sticks out to you?

Segment Synopsis: Blasingame discusses the community she grew up in and her feelings about being forced out by UGA. She laments the loss of black-owned land and homes and explains why she told her children to leave Athens.

Keywords: Athens, Georgia; Black-owned; Cloverhurst Avenue; Displacement; Faith; Family; Fourth Street; Gentrification; Home; Hull Street; Integration; Lyndon Row; Neighborhoods; Peabody Street; Racism; Sanford Stadium; Segregation; Students; UGA; University of Georgia; West Campus Parking Deck

00:34:46 - Survival through community / Importance of roots / Interview conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Well, we only--we have, you know, just a couple more minutes. Is there--I mean, is there anything else that you'd like to--to share with us?

Segment Synopsis: Blasingame mentions some of the ways neighbors took care of each other. She talks about the importance of having roots in Athens. Interview concludes.

Keywords: Athens, Georgia; Broad Street; Cloverhurst Avenue; Community; Family; Food waste; History; Lindentown; Lumpkin Street; Lyndon Row; Neighbors; Snelling Hall; Survival; UGA; University of Georgia; Work