By Ashley Swilley, Recycling Management Resources
The Auburn Avenue tour was by far my favorite CREW ACE event. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but it sounded fun and it is always nice to meet other CREW members. Actually, that day I was dreading the event and even considered not going, because of how cold it was (I know, I’m a wimp). But I am SO glad I went. This event seriously made an impression on me and made me love the City of Atlanta even more!
A little bit about me, I have lived in Atlanta since I was in high school (1999). I left for four years, ok five, to attend the University of Georgia, but returned after graduation. I have always been a fan of this city, mostly because it has so many things to offer and there is always something to do.
Now, the part I am not proud of. I have always been a big fan of the newly renovated “nice” parts of Atlanta. I liked the look of it. I enjoy eating and shopping in new places and walking the streets. I will admit, I had not spent a lot of time on Auburn Avenue. I always looked at it as an “old run down” area that needed to be renovated.
During the tour, something hit me, I had never realized, or took the time, to understand how lucky I am to grow up in a city with such a wealth of history. It was one thing to read about MLK Jr and the amazing things he did. But, when I stood in Ebenezer Baptist Church, I was overwhelmed. It was amazing to know I was standing in the exact place where MLK Jr preached, and where so many advances in civil rights occurred. Throughout the tour, it was amazing to see the original buildings where these amazing things actually happened. I am embarrassed by how much I did not know about the history of Atlanta and Auburn Avenue.
It was also amazing to hear of the African-American women business-owners at this time. This was a time when most African-American women were doing domestic work. My favorite story was of Mary Combs. She was one of only two property-owning blacks pre-civil war. She bought property at the corner of Auburn Ave. and Peachtree St. She sold this property six years later and used the money to buy her husband out of slavery.
After the tour, we went to the Flatiron building. It was amazing to speak with some of the women who are starting their own business through WEI. To be surrounded by so many talented and successful women was absolutely inspiring.
As I walked back to my car that evening, I realized that I did not want to see those buildings torn down and “renovated”. These are pieces of our country’s history. To have these historic buildings in our city is an honor, and we should do everything we can to preserve them. It is so much of the history that makes Atlanta what it is today.
Now that I have two small children, I want these buildings to be here when they grow up. I want to walk them down the streets and SHOW them what they are reading about in school.
Ashley Swilley works for Recycling Management Resources, specializing in commercial and industrial recycling solutions. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and twin boys. In her free time she enjoys cheering on the Bulldogs, hiking with her dogs, and spending time outside!
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