August 10 - August 16, 1995

Eighth Day

GEORGIA FIREFLY: Eighteen acres of rich, red clay, ropes of green kudzu vine and the hospitality of old friends have me feeling like one long, slow southern drawl at the end of the day.

I speak of Danielsville, Georgia, where my friends Richard and Carol have lived for 14 years. They met at the idealistic Arizona pottery barn known as Arcosanti in the early 1980s and went on to the University of Arizona, where I found them.

Now stocked with bees, children, blackberries and a controversial bug zapper, my friends occasionally consider moving closer to nearby Athens and the University of Georgia. They discuss wanting to be closer to work, school, music lessons and the occasional pizza dinner out.

As an outsider, and a vacationer who has only partly forgotten the word "hectic," I vote no. My travels to the east have in part been in search of the word "green," and to me, this swollen green countryside is paradise found. Lush grasses and broad-leafed magnolia trees, misted toward dusk by a southern kiss of rain, muffle the sounds from an occasional car or howling dog on this long, dangling, rural route.

But Athens is a neat place, too. Lovely mansions line many of the streets and there are landmarks as sweet as the protected Tree that Owns Itself, and as historic as the failed double-barreled cannon that graces the lawn at City Hall. Designed to shoot two balls chained together, it never worked, but is cherished, I guess, to show how hard they tried to best the Yankees.

Besides protecting pride and property though, the Georgians have also done a stunning job of protecting segregation.

After touring the streets, campus and java shops, I casually ask my friend Carol where the hell all the black people are. She aims her trusty import toward some public housing, through a few old, sagging neighborhoods and then out to the edge of town, home to a large chicken plant, where I see only black faces under loose hairnets, smoking and sipping soda in their green cloth uniforms.

I am also keenly aware of a school situation here, where the district has created mayhem in the name of equality. My brother-in-law's sister, an African from Cape Verde, is studying in Athens. She's found herself in the middle of this mess, where many blacks are saying they're getting the run-around concerning school assignments. The school district has suggested her six-year-old, Ricardo, attend school 10 miles away from where he goes now, changing buses twice to get there. Then they intend to have him hop a city bus home. This is the same school district that sent him home on the wrong school bus the second day he was in this country. Under fire from its majority black population, the district has said it will take another look at the school assignments. Good thinking, you all.

Little Ricardo, meanwhile, will go home to Africa, where he has family who think he is unsafe in America.

Things change slowly all over, warriors.
--By Hannah Glasston

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August 10 - August 16, 1995

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