Once Upon A Memory
Lisa Noël Babbage
Author, Teacher, Philanthropist
Dec. 8, 2018
“Unfortunately, Ms. Abrams and her mother received a less than stellar greeting, very typical of the old South. But this Christmas a different tone rang out, one of unity and joy as Georgians of all kinds, Jews and Gentiles, black and white, came together to celebrate the birth of Jesus.”
On the recent campaign trail, a Georgia candidate, a former valedictorian of her high school, shared a touching recollection which brought remnants of the past, a past marred by burning crosses and hooded horsemen. This past kept Georgia segregated and some of her citizens economically enslaved. That candidate, Stacey Abrams, retold in eloquent detail, of her encounter at the guard gate of 391 West Paces Ferry Road, the address of the Georgia Governor’s Mansion. This location not only houses state level leadership, it is a stop on the right of passage tour every Valedictorian takes, a stop Stacey Abrams made when she was a high school senior.
Unfortunately, Ms. Abrams and her mother received a less than stellar greeting, very typical of the old South. But this Christmas a different tone rang out, one of unity and joy as Georgians of all kinds, Jews and Gentiles, black and white, came together to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
As First Lady, Sandra Deal greeted each guest, who waited in the rain for half an hour, at the door of the columned Greek Revival, we suddenly became reminded of the reason for the season. A choir of children, a small orchestra, and trees for days, each decorated in a the First Lady’s theme, _reading, _became the delight of our eye and ears. Perhaps what was so touching, besides the grandeur of the residence, the decor, and warm greetings, were the paper and cardboard structures created by Georgia’s federal inmates.
Each year, inmates from across Georgia’s prison system submit creations, whether they be castles like this one from Walker State Prison, or one of the numerous paintings and sculptures displayed at the State Capital from Smith State Prison. This annual display of items which are later auctioned off, remind us of the lost talent of so many incarcerated. As one mansion employee who was once incarcerated himself remarked, “This is the time of year when we see the best in everyone.” This tour of Christmas decor was the last official public welcoming Governor and Mrs. Deal will host of behalf of the people of Georgia after eight years of public service at this address.