Take that, Scarlett O’Hara: The tale of Tunis Campbell is the true story of Georgia Reconstruction

Tunis G. Campbell, Sr. Georgia Black Reconstruction Leader By Jonathan Grant @Brambleman In 1861, a 49-year-old black abolitionist named Tunis G. Campbell, Sr., walked into a recruiter’s office in New York City and attempted to enlist in the Union Army. Like all African-Americans in the war’s early stages, he was rejected as unfit on the basis of his race. Campbell, a well-educated restaurateur, baker, and published author, didn’t give up. He wrote a letter to President Lincoln outlining a self-improvement plan for freed slaves after the war. As a result, he was sent to Union-occupied Hilton Head, S.C., to work with General Rufus Saxton. In 1865, Campbell—a tall, imposing man who dressed formally and wore spectacles—was appointed military governor of five Georgia…

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When my father died, I inherited a huge unfinished manuscript. The rest is history.

By Jonathan Grant @Brambleman The Way It Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia was honored as an Editor’s Choice by American Heritage magazine and named Georgia’s nonfiction “Book of the Year” in 1994. I accepted the award on my father’s behalf six years to the day after he died. The last narrative that Dad wrote for The Way It Was covered Hosea Williams’s 1987 marches in Forsyth County, Georgia, the all-white county infamous for its purge of more than 1,000 black residents 75 years previously. My new novel, Brambleman, is a fictional account of that purge–and people’s attempts to come to grips with it. It is very much a story about the burden of Southern history. The Way It Was has been…

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Georgia’s most famous runaway slaves became famous abolitionists

By Jonathan Grant @Brambleman I remain appalled at the “content” (or rather, the lack thereof) taught in Georgia’s 8th grade classrooms about the state’s history—and especially the short shrift its deep and rich African-American history receives. Of course, the same can be said for the nation’s classrooms during Black History Month. (Why February? Comedian Chris Rock once said, “Because it’s the shortest month.”) There would be no need for such a thing as Black History Month if African Americans’ story had been told properly and effectively all along, but that didn’t—and hasn’t happened—so here we are. Well, here’s something. When I worked on my father’s book, this story—which I’d never heard before—jumped off  the page at me. I was so enthralled by…

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Take that, Scarlett O’Hara: The tale of Tunis Campbell is the true story of Georgia Reconstruction

Tunis G. Campbell, Sr. Georgia Black Reconstruction Leader By Jonathan Grant @Brambleman In 1861, a 49-year-old black abolitionist named Tunis G. Campbell, Sr., walked into a recruiter’s office in New York City and attempted to enlist in the Union Army. Like all African-Americans in the war’s early stages, he was rejected as unfit on the basis of his race. Campbell, a well-educated restaurateur, baker, and published author, didn’t give up. He wrote a letter to President Lincoln outlining a self-improvement plan for freed slaves after the war. As a result, he was sent to Union-occupied Hilton Head, S.C., to work with General Rufus Saxton. In 1865, Campbell—a tall, imposing man who dressed formally and wore spectacles—was appointed military governor of five Georgia…

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Take that, Scarlett O’Hara: The tale of Tunis Campbell is the real story of Georgia Reconstruction

Tunis G. Campbell, Sr. Georgia Black Reconstruction Leader By Jonathan Grant @Brambleman In 1861, a 49-year-old black abolitionist named Tunis G. Campbell, Sr., walked into a recruiter’s office in New York City and attempted to enlist in the Union Army. Like all African-Americans in the war’s early stages, he was rejected as unfit on the basis of his race. Campbell, a well-educated restaurateur, baker, and published author, didn’t give up. He wrote a letter to President Lincoln outlining a self-improvement plan for freed slaves after the war. As a result, he was sent to Union-occupied Hilton Head, S.C., to work with General Rufus Saxton. In 1865, Campbell—a tall, imposing man who dressed formally and wore spectacles—was appointed military governor of five Georgia…

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Lynching in post-Reconstruction Georgia: State-sanctioned terrorism

The following passage is an excerpt from The Way It Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia, by Donald L. Grant (Jonathan L. Grant, ed.) Published by University of Georgia Press, 2001. All rights reserved. Book webpage. Lynching in the New South: Georgia After the Ku Klux Klan won its battle to maintain white supremacy, the lynch mob of the New South assumed a major role in maintaining blacks as a caste of peasants and serfs.  Between 1889 and 1918, Georgia had more lynchings than any other state, and 94 percent of the victims were black.  By no coincidence, Georgia had the South’s lowest cotton-field wages during this time. The post-Reconstruction reign of terror was nearly totally demoralizing.  With good…

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