Letter to the editor: Aunt Fanny’s cabin

[Letters to the Editor are viewpoints submitted by readers. They may or may not represent the editorial view of the Courier]

As you drive through the city of Smyrna, you could be forgiven for not even noticing its presence. An unpretentious white structure, Aunt Fanny’s cabin was once a restaurant on Campbell Road in Smyrna. In the early 90s, when this road was being redeveloped, the city moved the cabin to its downtown location on Atlanta Road. Now the place is in disrepair and its future is weighed against its past.

I grew up in Smyrna and although Aunt Fanny wasn’t a restaurant my family frequented, I remember eating there once when I was young. I clearly remember the black children carrying menus on the chalkboard around their necks as they stood beside the tables of white customers, reciting the menu in an obsequious and singsong manner while the female waiters clad in costume The appropriate “Mammy” looked after the tables around them. . The atmosphere of the place is etched in my memory, and although only a teenager at the time of my visit, I have already recognized that it perpetuated the myth of the Old South that comforted so many of my white brothers and sisters. , one in which happy blacks sang in the fields, forever honored to serve benevolent white masters. Even though I had few black classmates at Campbell High School at that time, I remember thinking of them at dinner that night and feeling my face burn with embarrassment.

While it is true that Fanny Williams, the maid who gave the cabin its name, has done a lot for the black community through her membership in Atlanta’s Wheat Street Baptist Church, then the fate of this place is debated. , you might hear that she was also a civil rights icon, despite having passed away in 1949, years before the start of the civil rights movement. You might also hear that she was proud of the restaurant that bore her name and would certainly want it preserved. But I wonder. Fanny Williams was a product of her time. I doubt she could have dreamed of a day when the United States was a place where she could freely express her opinions out loud without fear of reprisal, let alone a place that would one day elect a black president. Maybe no white person should have the temerity to speak up for them.

Often, when certain expressions are coined to shed light on controversial issues in our country, they are quickly picked up by those who wish to distort or dilute their meaning. This is, I believe, the case with the term “white privilege”. In truth, I would bet that the Smyrna who most wish to see Aunt Fanny’s cabin preserved as part of “our” history are almost all white, and whether or not they are aware of the fact, that is one. Clear indulgence of the privilege of a lifetime has enabled them to regard this part of our collective history as something worth preserving.

Despite its biblical origins, empathy is often a troublesome concept because it places someone instead of placing the feelings of others on an equal footing with their own. He certainly looks slim on the ground in our country’s political arena, especially today. But I would respectfully suggest that when it comes to this issue, the current rulers of Smyrna should look to our black citizens for advice and consideration as they decide the course our city should take in the future. I am convinced that their point of view should carry infinitely more weight than that of anyone else.


Pamela terry

Smyrna, Georgia

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