Posts tagged ‘Albany GA’

Must-see Film ~ Screening in Albany, Georgia: Tuesday, 9/12/17


Albany Civil Rights Institute Presents Award-Winning Civil Rights Documentary & Discussion Featuring Several Black Albanians, Filmmaker

The Albany Civil Rights Institute will present an award-winning civil rights film, featuring multiple black Albanians, who fought on the front lines of the bloodiest campaign of the entire Civil Rights Movement.

                  The Institute will present the hour-long documentary, Passage at St. Augustine: The 1964 That Transformed America™, Tuesday, September 12, 2017 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at 326 Whitney Avenue, Albany, GA 31701. The program will feature filmmaker Clennon L. King, and is free and open to the public. Read more…

“We Shall Not Be Moved” ~ March On Washington 1963

America has been here before.

Watch this video of the Freedom Singers that preeminent day 53 years ago.

The Freedom Singers began in Albany, Georgia in 1962 during the Civil Rights Movement. From L-R: Charles Neblett (bass), Bernice Johnshon Reagon (alto) Cordell Reagon (tenor), unknown and Rutha Harris (soprano). This performance was at The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Tuesday, August 28, 1963.

We shall not, we shall not be moved
Just like a tree planted by the water,
We shall not be moved.

May 27, 2014 ~ After North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis refuses to meet with North Carolinians, a sit-in turns into a church service lead by Rev.William J. Barber, President of the NC NAACP:

Other versions of the song:


Freedom Riders at the March on Washington, 1963

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Civil rights organizer Karen House at ’63 March.


Paul Newman at ’63 March

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Marchers cool their feet in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, ’63 March on Washington

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March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom: 8.28.63













The Day the “Colored Sign” Walked Out

Penny Patch, Panola County, MS. 1965.
Photo by Tom Wakayama

Guest Blogger: Penny Patch
Lyndonville, Vermont

“In 1962 I was a young white woman working as an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Southwest Georgia. A brilliant young man named Charles Sherrod was our project director, my teacher and mentor. And during those years I also met and worked with many audacious local young people who, with their families, became the backbone of the Albany Movement in Southwest Georgia.

Two of these young women were Patricia Ann Gaines and Margaret Sanders, at the time age 15 and 16 respectively. Their families sheltered me and other civil rights workers at great risk to themselves. Their entire families participated in the Movement, including two year old Peaches Gaines who went to jail with her mother and sisters Pat, Shirley, and Marian. I remember Marian Gaines at age 11 leading a march into the police lines singing “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round.” Mr. Gaines, their Dad, was known on occasion to sit outside the mass meeting with other men, shotguns across their laps, protecting the mass meeting. And Margaret’s sisters Mary, Jean, and Sharon Sanders accompanied her on her path to becoming a student leader in the Albany Movement.

I am naming names because these young women —whose names are not as well known as they should be—were citizens of Albany. One thing to know about each and every one is that they took risks, all the time. So one day Margaret and Pat strolled into the Dougherty County Courthouse, walked over to the two water fountains in the main hall, and took down the “colored” sign which hung over the small water fountain positioned next to the much larger water fountain which was labelled as “white.” These are the same water fountains, with signs in place, that you see in Danny Lyon’s iconic photo posted here.


Photo by Danny Lyon, from his book: Memories if the Southern Civil Rights

Pat and Margaret lifted the sign, walked out of the building and escaped back into the black community before anybody noticed it was gone. How did they do this? I have no idea. And Pat, whenever I ask her, says her memory is kind of vague about the whole episode. (We agree that this is probably due to stress related memory loss). Some time later, as I was leaving Albany to work in Mississippi, Pat and Margaret presented me with the sign and the story of their exploit. I took that sign with me on many occasions for many years whenever I talked to students about the Black Freedom Movement. But then the Albany Civil Rights Institute opened and it was time to place it where it belonged, in that museum in its home town. You all can visit this wonderful small museum and see the sign on display, with Pat and Margaret’s inscription on the back of it.

Pat Gaines with Charels Sherrod, 2011 Albany, GA

Pat Gaines with Charels Sherrod, 2011 Albany, GA


Note from Anita: I met Penny in May 2011 when I traveled back home to Albany, GA for the 5oth Anniversary of the SNCC movement. She has been following the blog since the early days and graciously providing insight and details for my novel. In an email recently she recounted the story above then agreed to share with my readers.


Me with Penny and granddaughter in Hyper Gym, Albany State University, May 2011


L-R: Annette Jones, Penny, Charles Neblett. Hyper Gym, ASU. May 2011


















Upcoming Reading ~ This Friday, Oct. 23 in Novato

Hello All…long time no see, but I’m back with good news: I’ll be reading from the homestretch draft of my novel, Peach Seed Monkey, this coming Friday here in Novato, CA.

I hope you locals can come out and join the Rant & Reverie to raise money for the renovation of Novato Theatre.

Update ~ Early last month I made a trip back to Albany for a family funeral and was able to work a lot on place and setting for the story; you really have to be there to nail it. Was introduced to an area of Albany I’d heard of but never visited: Cromartie Beach. I was so intrigued that I’ve written the location into the story ~ this is where my Altovise Benson buys her retirement beach house ~


OK…Click on the poster below for details about the reading this coming Friday…


Nikki and Nikky @ ASU in Albany, GA


This was very cool:

How could the 1000 people who recently attended Albany State University’s 8th Annual Poetry Festival possibly process the enormity of the event: being in the same room with Nikki Giovanni and Nikky Finney? With Frank X Walker, Hoke Glover and Lita Hooper.

Kudos to my mother, Irene Jones‘ alma mater and HBCUs everywhere.

Three Heroes—with more on Emmett Till

133 people visited the blog yesterday! A recent high, topped by 296 the day I launched six months ago. I’m psyched! Thanks to all who came,  read, hopped around the site and commented.

L-R: Dennis Roberts, Charles Jones, me and Peter de Lissovoy at BBQ hosted by Chevene King, Jr. in Albany, GA. June 2011

It’s 5:30 am Saturday and I spent a restless night thinking about Emmett and Trayvon and their families, finally pushed from the bed by these words and the picture above taken last June in Albany when I met these three heroes of the Southwest Georgia SNCC Civil Rights Movement at the 50th Anniversary. Read more…

Harlem Barbershop ~ Tells Its Own Stories

June 2011 ~ ALBANY, GA

Nope. Not talking about the infamous Harlem in New York City, but rather its namesake 1000 miles south in Albany, GA. It’s hot as the dickens that day, but nice and comfortable inside the barbershop on the corner of W. Highland and S. Jackson Streets in this historic district. When you open the door, the little bell rings, just as you’d expect it to. That day in June I learned that this is where my late dad went for hair cuts for well over 40 years, and I finally crossed the threshold last June while home researching the novel.

I introduce myself to the owner and head barber, Eugene Bailey, (he goes by Boo Jean) and ask him, “I’m Silas Jones’ baby girl…did you happen to know my dad?” He smiles, “Oh yeah!…we always knew we was gon’ have a good time whenever Silas walked through the door!” Read more…

I Believe

‘Tis the season.
(Written December 29, 2011)

A few nights ago my husband Rob was watching the movie version of Chris Van Allsburg’s classic children’s book, The Polar Express (creepy animation, but I love the book). I caught the tail end when the boy holds up the bell and says, “I believe, I believe!” and then the bell rings. That sent a little bell jingling in my head with the idea for this final post of 2011.

I believe in signs.
Clear, unexpected signs that show up along a path, urging you on, when you’re full of fear and self-doubt but moving forward despite them.

I haven’t reported here yet, but the day after Thanksgiving my manuscript was rejected by an agent I had high (as it turns out false) hope for. One down and many more to go. Pity party only lasted two days. Learned a lot. Moving on.

2011 is the year that I finished my first novel. Proud of that. I’ve had more than a few signs this year on the journey. Gotten to the point where when one shows up I just shake my head, smile and say I’m not even surprised. However, depending on who’s in conversation, I might as well say I believe in Santa Claus.

A fellow writer sent an email urging me not to pay so much attention to such things as signs, but just buckle down and write the best book I can.
She doesn’t get it.
I love the signs. I’m grateful for the blessing. I was excited by them and shared some of these stories with a few friends, but then cut back on talking about them outside of my little family of three, because of people who don’t get it. But the jingle bell told me that’s their problem. So here I am, throwing this out for those who get it.

It’s clear to me now that the key to catching signs is forward motion despite fear. My sister Betty spoke of it often: “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey,” her graduate students quoted her to me. And that’s definitely what my mother Irene was talking about when she forbade us to say “I can’t”, replacing it with her mantra: “Can killed Can’t and they got in behind Couldn’t and haven’t seen him since.”

Photo: Anita Jones

So in the spirit of the season, I’ll share three of my favorite signs ~

#1. February 22, 2011~ I had taken the writing as far as I could without  traveling back to Albany to immerse us both—story and myself—in the sights, sounds, cadences of southwest Georgia. That morning I met an interested friend for coffee in San Rafael to discuss the book. Then I dropped by Fairfax library, the whole time struggling with the decision to start putting money where my idea was: plane ticket, car rental, hotel, etc. I walked out to my car, and in that very moment of wrestling with thoughts of flying home I saw that the license plate of the car parked next to mine included: AJR747 (my legal initials are AJR).  Of course I had to share the story with the woman sitting in the car. She smiled and said, “Sounds like you need to get on a jet!” (Then she thanked me for pulling her out of her worriation over an upcoming anatomy test). Two months later I made the first of two 2011 research trips back to Albany.

#2. Oct. 14, 2011 ~ parking lot of Maples Pavilion at Stanford University in Palo Alto.  Well, I’d driven all the way down there for an education Roundtable with Charlie Rose as moderator. I wondered why there was so much parking available. Well, it was because I was there on the wrong day, the thing was the next Saturday.  Frustrated, I made the best of it, decided to do research in the Green Library. Got to the driver’s side door and spotted something on the asphalt in the empty space next to my car. “Is that a peach seed?” I asked out loud. Knelt down to examine and yes it was ~ a crushed peach seed! You already know what I said then: “I’m not even surprised.”

#3. At the suggestion of Aruna, a writing cohort, during this Christmas break I’ve been reading Richard Yates, starting with Revolutionary Road. Amazing work, written from the eye of the storm of detail and dialog. I’m learning a lot. I noticed that his birth and death years are exactly the same as my mother: 1926 ~ 1992, but this next sign really got me: Betty had a few terms of endearment—often called us “Cutie”—but her favorite was “Pookie Nose”. The third line in Yates’ novel The Easter Parade reads:

“Their mother, who encouraged both girls to call her “Pookie”, took them out to New York…”

OK. ‘Nuf said.

Here’s to a happy, productive 2012 for all of YOU… and …

THE POINT IS ~ hope you’ll always hear the jingle.

Oh ~ So this is what a first draft feels like!

I promised to keep y’all updated on the progress of Peach Seed Monkey so here I am (finally) with a real update. Thanksgiving is two days away so I’m also here to give thanks ~ first to you for visiting/reading/subscribing to the PSM blog.

It’s been quiet the past couple of weeks for good reason ~ I  focused all available energy on finishing the first drafthallelujah! This comes at the end of a long, hard road: snatching time to write while motherhood and family life marched on—throughout the tail end of homeschooling and into the high school transition. Thank you Universe for the sanity to survive.

I’m often asked where the idea for the book started (and especially how the peach seed monkey made it’s way in) and much will be revealed by and by, but I will share this much now ~

The seed (really is the best word)  for the story was planted in September 2005 while my family and I were visiting Albany, Georgia for a family reunion. I went in search of an untold story and knew little about exactly what that would be—only that I wanted to tell a story about how black men of my father’s generation (he was born in 1921) in a place like southwest Georgia managed to be leaders in their homes and communities when the larger society did not see them that way at all. My dad passed away six years before I was pondering the question, but all my life he had shown me how that was done. Thank you, Silas.

Cousin Jessie on his property: Putney, Georgia, Sept. 2005

And I still had a very valuable resource: my cousin Jessie Jones (born in 1919) who lived right next to Albany in Putney. He and my dad grew up together and Jessie had a good memory. He passed away last year at age 91, but I have lots of audio interviews with details that serve the story well. Thank you Jessie.

A month ago I found out that my agent would be ready to read around the middle of November, so I set last Friday, November 18th as my deadline to wrap up the first draft. I thank my husband, Rob (a graphic designer used to deadlines) for making me set them.

Last Wednesday I was given a gift that made meeting the deadline possible ~ the use of a friend’s beach house for four days and nights in complete solitude. With the help of several pots of tea, chips, hummus and a huge jug of Superfood the 14-16 hour days yielded results. (Having the space and solitude to walk around reading the whole manuscript out loud made all the difference. ) It’s hard to thank my friend enough.

And now after a six year journey it feels almost unreal to have a first draft. This sudden,  post-partum freedom from the everyday demands of my fictional folk is VERY strange. So now I’m waiting to hear the thoughts of the agent who receives the last—but in no way the least—of my thanks.

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