MCINTOSH CO., Ga. (WTOC) -The McIntosh County Art Association took a different approach to its Black History Month Event this year by inviting visiting artist Annie Greene down from LaGrange for an exhibition.
While Ms. Greene’s art was certainly an attraction, what she was able to tell people about her work brought even more meaning to the event.
“Well, the water fountain for the whites was like a cooler,” said Greene. “The blacks might have a little water fountain over here and the water was not cold.”
Annie Greene shared her art with folks in Darien last weekend. But it was the message and the memories expressed by her yarn on paper images that delivered the key points during the McIntosh County Black History Month event.
“Sometimes we would go to town and my daddy would say ‘let’s get an ice cream cone at the local drug store.’ We could not sit at the counter. We could not sit at the table where others were having lunch after church. We would go stand at the end of the counter and then get the ice cream cones and then go out eating our ice cream.”
The pictures and the stories in the art show were from Greene’s book "What Color is Water?' in which she reflected on growing up black in the segregated South.
“I have always done things that related to what went on during my childhood, bathing in the tin tub, cooking on the wood-burning stove, ironing with the smoothing iron,” she said. "The iron would be heated on a charcoal bucket.
One of her works depicts the school she attended, where her father taught and her mother led the children in song on the piano.
“We sang songs like Stephen Fosters Old Black Joe. We always sang Lift Every Voice and sing, which later became the Negro National Anthem. But we sang the Stephen Foster songs, but after the Civil Rights Movement, we decided we didn’t want to sig Dixie and those songs anymore because those songs were related to the old south.”
The 88-year old artist from LaGrange thinks it is important to share her firsthand experiences as a way of educating younger generations.
“I want them to learn what some of the people had to go through at that time. I want them to learn to appreciate their history and want to read it and not shy away from it and for it to be something that they just want to dismiss,” she said. "But, I don’t know, I just wanted to share my story and so, here we are
Greene grew up in Hinesville. Her’s was one of the last families to leave the land the government was using to build Fort Stewart. She remembers waking up one morning and seeing soldiers burning the corn fields directly behind the house her family was living in. She said "they meant business'', and her father packed up the contents of that house and moved into another one with two other families.