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Municipal Archives opens new online exhibit exploring Savannah’s Jim Crow era
SAVANNAH (May 12) – The City of Savannah’s Municipal Archives, in partnership with Georgia Southern University, opened the new online exhibit “Jim Crow in Savannah’s Parks,” examining how Savannah denied Black people access to the best public parks and recreational facilities, and how Black taxpayers paid for a superior park system for whites.
Prepared by Jeffrey M. Ofgang, an intern with the City of Savannah’s Municipal Archives and in fulfillment of a Public History Graduate Certificate from Georgia Southern University, the exhibit utilizes primary resources from the City of Savannah’s Municipal Archives, including the papers of NAACP President W. W. Law, speeches by Mayor Malcolm Maclean, minutes of the Park and Tree Commission, the Savannah City Code, and facility plans from the Public Works and Engineering departments.
Topics explored include parks, playgrounds, pools, sports, and cemeteries. Through a comment portal in the exhibit, Ofgang also invites viewers to share their personal experiences of segregation in Savannah’s public parks and help build the historical record. Hosted by GSU University Libraries, the exhibit can be accessed at https://georgiasouthern.libguides.com/savannahparks.
As historians have looked back on the Jim Crow era, Savannah has gained a reputation as more progressive than other southern cities, having mostly avoided the violent reaction to integration elsewhere in the South. But many Savannahians can still remember suffering under Jim Crow discrimination and the Civil Rights protests of the 1960s. Park and recreational segregation is a less-examined aspect of Jim Crow in Savannah.
A companion “Hungry for History” talk is available online at https://youtu.be/WT3-25oVS14.
For more information contact Luciana Spracher, Municipal Archives Director, at (912) 663-7075 or Lspracher@savannahga.gov.