KEY TO THE CITY - USA City Directory Top USA City Resource Guide
1950 - late 1950's
George Washington Carver State Park -First Negro State Park in Georgia
The History of George Washington Carver State Park is illustrative of the times. Immediately after the war, there were no parks for blacks and segregation laws were strictly enforced in state parks for whites. John Atkinson, a Tuskegee Airman, returned from the Second World War and sought a recreational facility for African Americans. He had little luck getting permits on his own until the Georgia State Parks system stepped in. The State Parks Division leased, 1457 acres, which became Red Top Mountain State Park and 345 acres which became George Washington Carver State Park (the only State Park in Georgia ever named for an African American) on the newly created Lake Allatoona (1950) in Bartow County. John Atkinson became the first Black Park Superintendent in Georgia and while there he built, a clubhouse, concession stand, playground, boat ramp, beach and residence.
Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham writes that Carver became "...a black recreational Mecca and attracted visitors from throughout the southeast. Several well-known entertainers such as Ray Charles and Little Richard performed at the park.... This is where Rev. Andrew Young and his family learned to water ski and where Mrs. Coretta Scott King remembers her family spending many weekends at church outings. The park also served as the summer home of the St. John's Ski Bees, a black ski club, which was headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. The St. John's Ski Bees was the only black water ski club in Georgia. The group performed throughout the summer and drew people from throughout the southeast." They did barefoot skiing, sock takeoffs, one legged skiing and ramp jumping.
Atkinson operated the park from 1950 to 1958 and helped start a black Girl ScoutCamp at Carver as a sub-lease on the Corps of Engineers property. Samuel Nathan was the last superintendent of Carver. In one of the all-to-familiar cost-cutting moves, Carver operations were combined with Red Top, Mr. Nathan was transferred to Richmond Hill State Park to become the first black superintendent of a formerly white state park. The Atlanta Girl Scout Council then took over the operation of the Carver area on Lake Allatoona and what started as a Girl Scout Camp for Negroes became fully integrated as had Red Top Mountain State Park.
This excerpt is from the website of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites, written by Billy Townsend, State of Georgia Chief Historian (ret.)
This page is for perpetual written accounts of historical events that have occurred in the city. Anyone who feels they have pertinent information may submit it. This includes all people in or out of Cartersville and could involve any interested adults or children with events or items that are of interest. Items may be submitted for publication on this page where they will remain as part of a historical archive for the city. Items of interest may include noteworthy events, special events of historical importance, information about area growth that pertains to the history of the city, and other pertinent notes. We hope to establish a large data base of information about the history of each city. Historical Societies are encouraged to open their own page on Key to the City for more extensive historical information.
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