By Dr. Bud Gardiner
Join resident Dr. Bud Gardiner on February 15th at 2 pm in the Auditorium for this fascinating program. Sponsored by the Health Services Committee.
The health of African slaves was an issue concerning slave-holders but there was no organized attention paid to this issue. In 1832, the Georgia General Assembly established a hospital “for the relief and protection of afflicted and aged Africans”. Thus, the Georgia Infirmary was built south of Savannah. Over the years approximately 200 hospitals were established for black citizens under the auspices of governments, a variety of charitable organizations and groups of African American citizens and physicians. They were often tied to medical and nursing education. The bulk of them, of course, was in the southern states and had varying lengths of survival. With the impact of economic and social influences, (especially racial integration) only one such hospital remains. Their history provides a fascinating glimpse of an oppressed but resourceful segment of our population.
The theme at Collington for this year’s Black History Month is “Productive and Active.” Arts and crafts are now on display showing many products of being active. The glass cases in the Clock Tower contain work of residents including stained glass and needle point. Other products organized by Delores Hawkins are hung in the auditorium corridor. They include a jigsaw puzzle completed by Ron Hawkins and the picture, Fields to Factory, loaned by the Hawkinses. Students of SAGE classes may recognize work of the teacher, Albert Hurley, whose portraits are in the corridor. Pictures created by resident Madeline Wilson are scheduled for the exhibit. Von Willingham loaned her picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. The general effect of the displays is a demonstration of production contributed by the Collington community.
Occasionally, this blog draws attention to articles in our sister publication, the Collingtonian. Peggy Latimer’s piece in the January 2018 issue is deserving of such focus. The piece, tells the history of slaves here at Collington, to the minimal extent that it can be reconstructed from wills and other documents. The story is particular present, because of the graves up on the hill, including one of Basil Warring, who had “inherited” ten slaves from his father.
It is, of course, deeply shaming for a white person to read, and I think Peggy gets just the right combination of factual clarity and respectful perspective:
Marsham’s 1730 will listed them. All but one, however, were identified only by first name [spelling and punctuation through- out are as written in the original documents]: “One Negro Man named Caceour One Negro Man named Hercules one Negro Man named George One Negro Woman named Moll One Mulatto Boy named Charles One Mulatto boy called Robin One Negro Boy named Will Bulger One Mulatto Girl named Sarah One Mulatto Girl named Cate one Negro girl named Lucy and their Increase”
Peggy notes at the end, “With much research, we may be able to learn more of the history of these people. At the very least, shouldn’t we be honoring those enslaved persons who lived and labored on the land where we all now reside?” At the very minimum we should find public ways to recognize and honor that we enjoy the legacy of the labor of their forced and denied lives. Without in any way suggesting equivalence, the need to remember and honor reminds me that a few years ago, I went with my Polish Holocaust surviving aunt to a gymnasium (high school) in Mainz Germany, and for our visit, as part of a larger group, they had put up a mounted display of The Holocaust in Mainz, including a map showing locations.
Here is a photo of my aunt with some of the display. The kids were deeply respectful and attentive.
Surely we can try to do as much.
Indeed, there must be much else that we could do, that not only reminds of the past, but steers us for the future in these apparently anti-historical times.
Someone recently asked if there was a Collington Olympian. Turns out that there was one, of whom we can be proud in so many ways that go beyond and enhance the sport achievement itself.
As George Newman’s article in the February 2015 Collingtonian began:
The 1936 Berlin Olympics are justly famous for the four gold medals won by Jesse Owens, the African-American sprinter whose performance gave the lie to Adolf Hitler’s theory of a Nordic master race. But Owens was not the only African-American to win a medal in Berlin. As Collington celebrates Black History Month, it’s fitting to note that one of Owens’s team- mates, Frederick Douglass Pollard Jr., spent the last years of his life in our Creighton Center.
Pollard, who was known as Fritz, was fully Owens’s equal, said Pollard’s son, Fritz Pollard III, who lives in Germantown, Md., “My father said he used to beat Jesse in the 100 [meter sprint] but he thought the 100 was boring,” the son said in an interview. “He really liked the hurdles.”
Indeed, his history is recalled in a NYT article about a medalists Reunion in 1999.
They gathered on the steps of the Capitol, more than 100 American Olympians — from Fred Pollard, who has spent a lifetime describing how it felt to be a black man confronting Adolf Hitler at Berlin’s 1936 Games, to Beth Botsford, a 16-year-old double gold medal winner in 1996 who was late for today’s Olympic Day festivities because she would not miss her morning swim practice.
In the early afternoon, Pollard told Jesse Owens stories and Conner explained how he first got interested in the Olympics with an eighth-grade term paper on the 1936 Games. Botsford acknowledged it was humbling to be a part of such a group.
Do read the full Collingtonian article, and remember that we now have quite a Collingtonian archive here, going back to late 2001. Thanks again to Bessie.
Here is the photo of Frederick Douglass Pollard Jr. We honor him. He earned his name.
By the way, his father was the first African American head coach in the NFL.