Why Athens residents are speaking out decades after their community’s removal

Hattie Thomas Whitehead remembers her time in Linnentown fondly. 

She lived in the Black Athens community for the first 14 years of her life after her birth in 1948. A fourth generation resident, Thomas Whitehead spent her days playing softball, jump rope and jackstones with her six siblings and neighborhood friends. 

The children knew to keep to themselves. A fence separated their neighborhood from the white neighborhood, a reminder that they weren’t welcome. Drivers sped up when Thomas Whitehead and her friends crossed Baxter Street on their way to the local grocery store. Students at the University of Georgia threw water bottles and called the children names. 

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Photo courtesy Special Collections Libraries