March 29, 2014

A look back

March 29, 2014 The Valdosta Daily Times

-- — Today's Times includes A Look Back, an historical accounting of the community, its faces, places, and origins.

Researching the background material was helped tremendously by Donald Davis at the Lowndes County Historical Society Museum. Davis was an invaluable resource for information, as were a number of books written by local authors about the area's history.

Much of The Times' writing staff are recent college graduates, not old enough to have any memory of the vast majority of the subjects they were researching. They brought a fresh eye and perspective to the process, and were delighted by much of the fascinating material they uncovered.

However, as any reader of true history finds, not all is happy, fair or pretty in a non-fiction account of the past. Often, words that could not be uttered aloud today in public were used in historical accounts to refer to blacks. Reporters were shocked and surprised at the language, the descriptions of white- or black-only areas, the desegregation and how recently many acts of prejudice took place.

Although Valdosta has come a long way as a community, and numerous barriers to full integration have come down, the realization of a generation largely raised to be color blind of the unfairness and inequality that once transpired here was eye opening.

One positive outcome has been the dialogue created in the newsroom between white and black staff members, the open discussion about prejudice, race, and inequality, and a greater understanding of who we are and why we are the way we are.

Perhaps if more in the community were open to these types of dialogues, many of the issues that persist today could be recognized and potentially resolved.

If you don't understand history, you are doomed to repeat it, and the young adults of today have no intention of repeating the actions of previous generations.

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