February 19th Virtual Transform Westside Summit: “Celebrating Black History”

The February 19th Virtual Transform Westside Summit celebrated Atlanta’s Black history and featured: Dr. R. Candy Tate, Assistant Director, Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts and Rev. Dr. Herman ‘Skip’ Mason, Jr., Pastor, West Mitchell Street Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. Together, the two experts carried summit attendees back through time to highlight the cultural significance of historically Black sites throughout Atlanta, encouraging community members to do what they can to further preserve that history.

An art historian, much of Dr. R. Candy Tate’s life’s work is helping to ensure important chapters in African American history are never forgotten. A member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, she stands by his philosophy: “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” Dr. Tate began the summit’s featured presentation with a slideshow of noteworthy past and present landmarks on Atlanta’s Historic Westside, and she finished by sharing thoughts on the steps everyday residents can take to keep the history of Black neighborhoods and landmarks alive and well. For more on Dr. Tate’s work, click here, or tune in to her podcast, “Potlikka: Rebuilding Black Main Street.”

Like Dr. Tate, Rev. Dr. Herman ‘Skip’ Mason Jr., did not come to the summit empty handed. A fellow historian, author, and Atlanta native, Rev. Mason continued the featured presentation with further pictorial retelling of Atlanta’s Black history. Highlighting relics from the city’s entertainment history to the former booming Black businesses along the MLK Corridor, he shared with viewers before and after shots of historic Black Atlanta staples. Many of the pictures he presented are featured in his written works Black Atlanta in the Roaring Twenties and Politics, Civil Rights, & Law in Black Atlanta.

English Avenue resident Ebony Ford joined summit host Craig Lucie, owner of Lucie Content, to wrap up the program, encouraging viewers of all races to learn about Black history beyond February, for it’s only when people are aware of the realities of the Black experience that they can better empathize and contribute to bringing about true equality and equity for all.