Day 9: Jim Crow’s ghost

Charleston, SC to Savannah, GA

After some great Louisianan coffee, said a fond goodbye to Ethan and Allison.

Into Georgia – State #10! I drove to my Savannah hotel, the Hampton Inn Historic District, an old building beautifully renovated.

Lobby, Hampton Inn Savannah Historic District

Savannah seems like a much more livable city then Charleston, or is it just that the crazy heat has moderated a little today? There are more people on the streets and it just seems more lived in.

Savannah City Hall (building with gold dome)

Went to the Grey Market, a New York – Southern fusion lunch counter.

The Grey Market

My friend Dani arrived. I’ve known her since I was 22. We were close in the exciting days of New York’s underground music revolution, but in the last few decades we’d seen one another briefly or not at all. She has deep family roots in Savannah.

She caught me up on four decades which included earning a degree from the Iowa Writers Workshop, a PhD in literary criticism in Denver, published works, teaching English at college and high school and much else. I feel lucky to know her.

We went over to the Telfair Museum for a small exhibition of Rembrandt etchings, Rembrandt and the Jewish Experience.

Telfair Museum Jepson Center – 2006. Moshe Safdie, architect

To the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum. Gilbert was a pastor and president of the Savannah branch of the NAACP.

What life was like for African Americans in Savannah into the 1960s. Humiliations that extended into every aspect of life. Everything was segregated. Churches, schools, drinking fountains, restaurants, buses, train waiting rooms, movie theaters. At one prominent department store, Levy’s, they were permitted to buy things but not to eat at the lunch counter.

The exhibit continued with the civil rights struggle in Savannah, which included sit-ins, demonstrations, mass meetings and economic boycotts. It met with some success.

The museum is in what once was the heart of a thriving black commercial neighborhood, demolished in the 1960s to build Interstate 16 through Savannah. This pattern was, sadly and criminally, repeated in many US cities, where the land chosen for interstate highways was usually minority neighborhoods.

In the evening I was grateful that the temperature had gone from hot to warm. Walked to the restaurant Husk Savannah, elegant but welcoming in the southern manner. The cuisine is reinterpreted, locally sourced Southern ingredients and the food was excellent.

4 thoughts on “Day 9: Jim Crow’s ghost”

  1. I’ve always wanted to see Savannah. Years ago my friend Leslie and I planned a trip there, but we never went. What is New York/Southern fusion? Hush puppies, bagels and egg creams?

  2. Glad you had a good visit with Dani in her fair city! Hope you got to walk around some of the squares.

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