Recently, the 60th mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, announced that she would not seek reelection.
During her press conference for this topic of discussion on a national level, a very rural place in Georgia was poignantly highlighted:
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“And many of you all have heard me speak of my family’s history in this city going back almost a hundred years. My grandmother would tell me how her-her father, who was a child of people who were once enslaved from Crawfordville, Georgia, packed up a horse and buggy and they made their journey to Atlanta…”—Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, May 7, 2021
The implications of Mayor Bottoms’ decision are being think-pieced and parceled out by the dozens and yet what is most striking to me is that word. That place.
According to the 2010 census, Taliaferro County, Georgia (the county that includes the town of Crawfordville) was the least populous county in the state. It’s the second least populous east of the Mississippi.
It’s a big deal to have such a luminary as Mayor Bottoms declare her ancestral ties to the place.
And yet, more and more I learn that Crawfordville has a great deal of big deals, in terms of important and influential figures.
I’ve written how original Temptations member, the late Paul Williams’ father was from Crawfordville. NBA legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Jr.’s has paternal family ties to the tiny hamlet. In my own family, my paternal grandfather was born in Crawfordville and my husband’s maternal grandparents hail from there, as well. These are just some of the very interesting ties back to Crawfordville. Now, we add Mayor Bottoms’ family.
A Georgia state park, the A.H. Stephens State Park, is located in Crawfordville. Alexander Hamilton Stephens, the vice-president of the CSA, was born in Crawfordville and according to a Black family, Crawfordville is the place where Stephens ravished a twelve year old enslaved girl by the name of Eliza, and had a child, Allen Stephens, with her.
As Isabel Wilkerson’s brilliant work on The Great Migration, The Warmth of Other Suns, explored how many a Southern rural family literally hitched their cart out of the building, zip code, state, and region.
Some families were happy to hightail it to a city in-state that would give them a good job and a new start in vastly different surroundings.
Well, the ancestral memories of Crawfordville, that tiny, resilient place remain. The huge impact. The genealogical and societal reverberations reach into the 21st century and beyond.
Our Crawfordville, Taliaferro County, Georgia situation…
Thank you, Mayor Bottoms for sharing about your family’s Crawfordville history!
The Genealogy Situation Room