Thanks to Sarah and the rest of the Concurring Opinion Crew for inviting me back. It’s been two years since my last run here and lot’s have changed here in Savannah. This past month in Savannah we have seen the grand opening of our building — re-purposed from an early 19th Century hospital to a stunning Law Library. To help us open the books on the new space, we invited several thoughtful and wonderful people to join us in thinking about how you reintegrate spaces, with a heavy emphasis on how race, space and place emerge in new environments. Our key note Al Brophy,and other wonderful contributors, Anthony Baker, Steve Clowney, Lia Epperson, Liz Glazer, Jamilla Jefferson-Jones, Adam Kirk, Kali Murray, Connie Pikerston, Marc Poirier, Amanda Reid, Jeff Schmidt, and others. It was a great time and a great environment. (I plan to blog separately about the great panels that were presented and their dialogue that ensued).
On the heels of the colloquium, the New York Times this week published an article looking at what it calls Savannah’s other side — the Black side that is rarely acknowledged or confronted in a city that is “stuck in its on gauzy antebellum bubble.”
A visitor could easily spend a week sauntering along the city’s haunting boulevards and leave without a clue about the essential role Georgia’s oldest African-American community has played here….Blame the Low Country blackout, at least partly, on the fact that in the pageant of cities primping with New South sheen and aura, Savannah has perhaps made a less than eager contestant. The city is so proud of its Southern charms and traditions — Gothic Revival homes, high-on-the-hog soul food, Spanish moss canopies shading picturesque squares — that the mere suggestion of cultural evolution is enough to make an old-timer drop his mint julep. Perhaps Savannah’s legendary singer/songwriter Johnny Mercer said it best when he crooned: “I know I’m old fashioned/But I don’t mind it/That’s how I want to be/As long as you agree/To stay old fashioned with me.”
Boy is that true. Living in the south again, (and starting a law school in the south) has been a reminder that race and poverty are quintessentially (though not uniquely) southern, along side college football, seersucker suits, and sweet tea. Where some see spanish moss in charming trees, others see ghosts of past racial conflict.. A law school in the south (particularly a new law school) has a chance to tell a bit of the other side — to be a progressive space of thought and engagement. That’s why I came back to the South and why I call Savannah home. Like most homes, we still have lots of work to do.
I’m looking forward to sharing more about Savannah, Property, Poverty, Law and Literature, Tenure, the Academy, and maybe a little College Football depending on how season goes (so far not so well — at least last week anyway).