I had a chance to meet and talk with Gene Kansas last week about the Atlanta Daily World building. First let me say he is a super guy so my opinion may be bit biased here but I was looking and listening as we talked. One of the issues I have been wrestling with is how we remember? What does it mean for Auburn Avenue to be the “New Sweet Auburn Avenue”? It will not be what it was and it shouldn’t be. This street has to evolve. As it evolves one of my many questions has been how it remembers? I’ve especially been asking how will African American history be remembered?
The work Gene Kansas is doing and the building he owns is a central part of this story I am telling. We are talking about The Atlanta Daily World Building. This is the place where the oldest African American owned and ran newspaper resided. The days of the Atlanta Daily World’s heyday is history but we can’t forget what it was and what it did for our people. The world has changed and this building has changed owners and it is being changed, in the process of change will we forget to remember?
The thing that amazed me most about my time with Gene was his keen sense of and respect for history in general and African American history in particular. He ins’t some fly by night developer and overseer of gentrification. He is a compassionate soul who is connecting this building with it’s history. Everything that is going into the building harkens back to a time in past of that very building. There is this neat integration of the past with the present that breathes from outside to the inside of the building. Gene get’s it and this is a relief for me. I think memory is important and the question is how do we remember? What does it mean and look like to celebrate the past as we live into the future? Gene has taken questions like thes very seriously and I am happy to see what he is doing.
Gene is allowing me to walk with him and his team as they do the historical restoration and renovation and I plan to do just that. I invite you to journey with us on this ride down Sweet Auburn Avenue as it becomes sweet again. How does a street that has gone through several failed revitalization efforts come out of this one? We will see? What is it in your life that needs revitalizing? Are you getting your construction project started?