The City of Savannah’s Municipal Archives isa massive trove of history. And this week, in partnership with Georgia Southern University, it posted a new online exhibit “Jim Crow in Savannah’s Parks,” examining how Savannah denied Black people access to the best public parks and recreational facilities and how Black taxpayers paid for a superior park system for whites.

The multimedia work was prepared by Jeffrey M. Ofgang, an intern with the City of Savannah’s Municipal Archives who now holds a Public History Graduate Certificate from Georgia Southern University. The exhibit utilizes the city archives to show how segregation manifested in planning documents, news stories, city code, meetings and engineering department work for parks, playgrounds, pools, sports, and cemeteries. Hosted by GSU University Libraries, the exhibit can be accessed at https://georgiasouthern.libguides.com/savannahparks.

It’s fairly common to hear long-timers say Savannah had a progressive reputation when it comes to segregation, having avoided violent reactions to integration. And historians have noted that, as well. However, these documents make it clear that racial segregation was codified as park benches were ordered moved to stop Black people from enjoying them in parks to planning documents that show park and recreational facilities like Grayson Stadium were designed and engineered for segregation. The historic journey shows official change arrived only after public action through economic boycotts and the ballot box.

A companion “Hungry for History” talk is available online at https://youtu.be/WT3-25oVS14.

The Tide brings news and observations from The Current’s staff.