Our Goal

As an organization that values celebrating and conserving community heritage, the 2020 Virtual History Conference is an outlet for organizations around Athens to present their contributions to the Athens community.


July 22nd, 2020

10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

View the Conference

The conference will be streamed on Facebook Live 


Our Presenters

Athens African American Oral History Initiative  10:00 -10:45 am

Christian Lopez leads the Russell Library Oral History Program at UGA's Special Collections Libraries. The Oral History Program is an A-Z oral history shop that produces, preserves, and provides digital access to over 1,000 oral history interviews in its archive. Lopez is active in the Oral History Association, and serves on the editorial board of Oral History in the Digital Age.

Athens African American Oral History Initiative

Brown Media Archives  11:00 - 11:45 am

What did the Athens of 1947 look like? What did Athens sound like in 1974? The Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection (BMA) holds the answer to these and many other questions about Athens history. The only archives in Georgia solely dedicated to preserving the state's audiovisual history, BMA is a treasure trove of Athens' recorded history. This presentation will feature highlights of their Athens-related materials and information about how members of the community can find and access these recordings.

The Walter J. Brown Media Archive & Peabody Awards Collection was started in 1995 and currently preserves over 250,000 titles in film, video, audiotape, transcription disks, and other recording formats dating from the 1920s to the present. Our mission is to preserve, protect, and provide access to the moving image and sound materials that reflect the collective memory of broadcasting and the history of the state of Georgia and its people. As we celebrate our twenty-fifth birthday, we seek to archive and promote a more diverse and inclusive picture of our city, county, and state.

Ruta Abolins, Director, Brown Media Archives
Kathleen Carter, Processing and Metadata Assistant
Mary Miller, Peabody Awards and Metadata Archivist
Margie Compton, Media Archives Archivist
Thomas May, Audiovisual Technician
Tyler Ortel, Audiovisual Technician

 Brown Media Archives

The Linnentown Project 12:00 - 12:45 pm

This presentation will cover the genesis and life of the Linnentown community, the history and impacts of its dispossession through urban renewal, and the ongoing struggle for its recognition and redress in Athens and beyond. Topics will include the character of Black communities in the Jim Crow South, gender roles in Black organizing (then and now), urban renewal and de jure white supremacy, and reparations. Our presentation will follow the content as presented on the Linnentown website (www.redressforlinnentown.com)

Hattie Thomas Whitehead became an activist by getting involved in the desegregation of Athens Georgia, her community, which led to her being jailed at 14. She recently retired from the workforce; she worked for 27 years as an Operation Manager in corporate America; received many certifications while working there however, her main focus was Diversity Appreciation. She changed careers, and worked 16 additional years as a property manager of HUD senior housing properties. One property received National recognition under her leadership. She organized her family to set up Athens StepUp Scholarship Program for Athens-Clarke students that have overcome obstacles, reached graduation and been accepted to a college or technical school. Since 2011, 55, $500.00 scholarships have been awarded. As a 1st descendant of Linnentown, she is the Financial and Public Outreach Coordinator for the Linnentown Project, They are working together as a team to get recognition and redress for their parents, and other home owners that lived there. Chair-person Justice and Memory Project Linnentown.

Joey Carter is a local labor organizer/researcher and community activist. He holds a PhD in Philosophy of Science from UGA, is a certified labor researcher from Cornell, and is one of the founding members of the United Campus Workers of Georgia/Communication Workers of America 3265. Joey is the Project Coordinator for the Linnentown Project, which aims to celebrate the history of the Athens black neighborhood called “Linnentown,” and to seek justice for its erasure.

Linnentown Project

Athens Chapter of ASALH 1:00 - 1:45 pm

This program is presented by the Athens Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Dr. Julie Velasquez Runk, an anthropology professor at UGA, engaged her students in a project to link local African American historians to a research project on the history of African Americans in Athens. Engagement with people who know the research from the interior as well as the exterior creates a more nuanced and balanced view of subjects. The panelists include: Linda E. Davis, Fred O. Smith Sr., Megan Farrer, and Dr. Julie Velasquez Runk.

Freda Scott Giles earned her PhD at the City University of New York. A specialist in African-American Theatre, directing and acting, she is the author of articles focusing on early African-American theatre, drama and theatre of the Harlem Renaissance period and contemporary African American theatre practitioners. She has presented papers at national and international conferences, such as Black Theatre Network, ATHE and ASALH. She has several play scripts to her credit, and has directed a number of productions in New York and Georgia. A professional actor and member of Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA, Dr. Giles has performed a number of roles off-Broadway as well as in film, television and radio. Before coming to the University of Georgia under a joint appointment in Theatre and Film Studies and African American Studies, Dr. Giles taught at State University of New York at Albany and City College, City University of New York. She recently retired from UGA where she taught courses in theatre history, African American theatre, African theatre, and directing for the stage; she directed a number of University Theatre productions and was honored to become a General Sandy Beaver Teaching Professor. She served as associate director for the Institute for African American Studies and was on the affiliate faculty of the African Studies Institute and the Institute for Women’s Studies. She is a founding editor of Continuum, an online open access journal of African/Diaspora theatre, drama and performance published by Black Theatre Network. She currently serves on the board of Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art and the Black History Month committee at the Morton Theatre. She is a charter member of the Athens chapter of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and is a member of Emeriti Scholars, Links, Incorporated and Delta Kappa Gamma.

Ms. Linda E. Davis is Vice President of Georgia based Indigo Business Solutions, Inc. and an adjunct instructor at Athens Technical College. She is currently the Clarke County School Board District 3 Representative. Ms. Davis is also engaged in other civic and community endeavors including Coordinator for the Friends of Brooklyn Cemetery Restoration Project, working with the Youth Dept at historic Mount Pleasant Baptist Church (celebrating its 151st anniversary this year), and Envision Athens Implementation Oversight Committee, Historic Athens, a life member of the Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and a founding member of the local chapter of ASALH, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. She is a native Athenian.

Fred O. Smith, Sr. grew up in Oconee and Clarke Counties, graduating from Athens' Clarke Central High School in 1971. He earned a Master's in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Georgia in 1978 and his BA in Sociology from Augusta's Paine College in 1975. In the summer of 1975, he helped start the Athens Voice Newspaper. In 1983 he was a litigant in a lawsuit against Clarke County government and its then at-large voting system, which had diluted the voter strength of African-Americans. Fred is co-founder of the Athens Area Black History Bowl and an organizer of the Annual May 4th Jubilee Day, commemorating the date in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Athens and freed about 5000 enslaved persons. Smith is an education advocate for marginalized Black and Brown children.

Megan Anne Farrer is a fourth year doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at UGA interested in issues of reproductive health and justice in a marine conservation context in Madagascar. This past spring, she took part in the community-based, collaborative research project on Athens African-American history that we are here to discuss.

Dr. Julie Velásquez Runk is an Athens resident and an interdisciplinary environmental scientist. She has been doing collaborative research for over thirty years.

Athens ASALH

Friends of Brooklyn Cemetery 2:00 - 2:45 pm

 This program is presented by the Friends of the Brooklyn Cemetery, a service organization charged with the restoration and preservation of the Brooklyn Cemetery in Athens, Georgia. Journalist and communications consultant Kimberly Davis is a Historic Athens Trustee.

The historic Brooklyn Cemetery was established by the Bethlehem Cemetery Society in 1882. It is the final resting place for many African Americans from Athens and surrounding communities. The people buried here were tradesmen of the period, farmers, preachers, teachers, and professionals in the service industry. They were servicemen, including veterans of World War I, World War II, and the Korean Conflict. They were mothers, fathers, infants, and children....they are the shoulders on which we stand. We honor their memory by restoring a serene dignity to this sacred ground, their final resting place.

Friends of Brooklyn Cemetery, with the help of hundreds of volunteers over the years, has worked to restore the landscape by removing invasive plants, fallen trees, and uncovering, marking, and tagging graves that had been covered by time and nature.

Brooklyn Cemetery

Athens Regional Library System 3:00 - 3:45 pm

Ever hear the phrase, “the internet lasts forever”? We have now learned after 20 plus years of using the internet that this phrase isn't necessarily true, information disappears. The Athens-Clarke County Library has been building a web archive for the past two years with the goal to preserve Athens History Now! But we need your help. Learn how you can participate in Documenting Athens Now in this short session presented by Ashley Shull, Archives & Special Collections Coordinator of the Athens Regional Library System.

Ashley Shull serves as the Archives and Special Collections Coordinator for the Athens Regional Library System, managing the Athens-Clarke County Library Heritage Room, assisting library branches across 5 counties with special collections, and serving on the leadership team of the Athens Regional Library System. Shull serves as a board member of Athens Historical Society and also as a member of the Programming Committee for Society of Georgia Archivists. Ashley Shull earned a bachelor's degree in Literature and master's degree in Secondary Education from Georgia College and State University, and a Masters in Library and Information Science from Valdosta State University.

Athens Regional Library System

Athens Welcome Center 4:00 - 4:45 pm

Destination marketers and placemakers have historic preservationists to thank for creating attractive places for people to visit and live in. Placemaking, the practice of planning and creating public spaces, can also be a proactive strategy for conserving and celebrating community heritage. Engage in an interactive discussion on how historic architecture plays a role in people’s attachment to place, and in what ways communities can leverage the symbiotic relationship between preservation and placemaking.

Michelle Nguyen, MPA (she/her) joined Historic Athens in January 2020 as the Interim Director of the Athens Welcome Center and is responsible for the operation of the Church-Waddel-Brumby House Museum, Classic City Tours, and the Regional Visitor Information Center in historic downtown Athens. Before joining Historic Athens, Michelle worked at the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government where she was the Director of Economic Development, served in the newly created role of Entrepreneurship & Innovation Specialist, and worked as a certified Human Resources professional. Prior to this, Michelle worked in a variety of recruitment and community organizing roles for her hometown, the City of Salisbury, North Carolina (established 1753). Michelle has an MPA from UGA and a bachelor's degree in Public Policy Studies from Duke.

Athens Welcome Center

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