The images featured here, which came from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, State Parks, and Historic Sites,  were contributed by Charles Atkinson.   Published around 1955 or 1956, they depict some Georgia State Parks that were set up during the so called "separate but equal" system.  Even though they mostly involve parts of the state other than Atlanta, I think they're worth including here because of their general historical interest.  Scroll down for far more details about the parks and the Atkinson family's history here in Atlanta.

Click on any photo for a much larger version.





In the first photo above, we see Charles Atkinson's father John directly beneath the second G in Georgia.  Sitting in the boat in the same photo is Charles' oldest brother John Jr.

John Atkinson (father of contributor Charles Atkinson) was the first black park superintendent in the state of Georgia.  He oversaw the building of George Washington Carver state park in 1950.  According to Charles, this was "the first Negro State Park in Georgia, and the only one ever named after an African-American."

Still open, the park is now operated by Bartow county as Bartow Carver Park (Google Map).  John Atkinson had leased the land from the Corps Of Engineers with the intent of running a private resort like American Beach in Florida, but could not get a license to operate it as such from Bartow County.  The state of Georgia, through Governor Herman Eugene Talmadge, offered to make the facility a State Park for Negroes, due in large part to mounting protests from black veterans of World War II and various civic groups.

The park officially opened in the spring of 1950, and John Atkinson remained the park superintendent for 8 years until he became ill in the fall of 1958.  Atkinson was succeeded by Clarence Benham, father of Robert Benham, who would become the first black justice on the  Supreme Court of Georgia, after being appointed by Governor Joe Frank Harris in 1989.  He won the statewide election to a full term on the Supreme Court in 1990, where he continues as a Justice after serving as Chief Justice for six years, 1995-2001.

George Washington Carver State Park hosted entertainment events, including shows by performers such as Ray Charles and Little Richard.  Andrew Young and his family water skied there frequently, and Mrs. Coretta Scott King and her family participated in many weekend outings there.

Due to budget cuts in enacted by Governor George Busbee's administration in 1975, the Park's lease was not renewed and Bartow County began leasing the land and its park facility operations.

Charles Atkinson continued:

"Shortly before WW II, my Daddy had purchased property in the city of Atlanta and built a house on it, only to be barred by the Atlanta police,  for two years, from moving into his house. He was told by the police that he had built his house on a 'white block' and could not move into it.  This was when he was persuaded to join the military. After his military discharge, he filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta. He had found out, while in the military, about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Hansberry vs. Lee. (this ruling also inspired Lorraine Hansberry to write her play, "A Raisin In The Sun...") but that matter was settled in the Georgia Supreme Court (England v Atkinson, Case # 14535) June 11, 1943 by a unanimous verdict for my Daddy.

Then Mayor William B. Hartsfield (sending a car to pick him up and bring him to city hall) told him the race block system in Atlanta was abolished, opening the way for Mozley Park, Dixie Hills, Grove Park, Collier Heights, Ben Hill, Cascade Heights, Adamsville and areas along Bankhead Highway to become integrated neighborhoods.  It also paved the way for Lincoln Golf Course and Country Club to open in 1947 where world heavyweight champ (and our cousin ?) Joseph Louis Barrow Sr. attended the opening ceremonies.  Also the late Mrs. Viola Andrews was able to buy a house on Holly Road, where her last four children, Valeria, Veronica, Deloris and Gregory, attended Emma Clarissa Clement Elementary School.  Also her deceased sons, artist Bennie Andrews and Georgia author Raymond Andrews, attended night school at Booker T. Washington High."

Thanks to Charles Atkinson for providing these images and for supplying the all the details for historical context.