Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn is a 624-page history of a section of Atlanta and four generations of 2 politically prominent Atlanta families, one (the Allens) white and one (the Dobbs) black. At one point a businessman describes a meeting with Mayor Maynard Jr. as follows: "consisted of somebody asking a question and fifty-nine minutes later Maynard's monologue ended. His monologue would become, in about the tenth or fifteenth minute, a lecture and, by the end, was a total harangue... It was just a complete turnoff. He by us, and us by him." And that pretty much sums up my impression of this Atlanta history. My notes say, "oh the minutiae!!" and "did this book take forever to write??"
That's not to say that I didn't learn interesting things, for example:
within the span of six years, the minister Martin Luther King Sr's namesake was famously assassinated, and then his wife, 70 yr old Alberta Williams King was murdered in church while playing the organ, AND a second son, the Rev. A.D. King drowned in a swimming pool accident.
I most appreciate the bits where Pomerantz explains how these African-American families in the south raised such successful children, with loving attention and unconditional support; on page 157, "most whites have no idea the lengths blacks went to train their children in the... necessity of avoiding hate. They had to reassure you (after some incident) that you were as good as anybody."
Having grown up in the suburbs of Detroit, most of my relatives from Savannah, GA like telling me that racism up north is worse because it's hidden, insidious. But reading this account made it pretty clear to me that that's the way racism has always been in the south too. This book must represent an amazing amount of research, but it was work to get through all of it.
The intersection of Peachtree Street, historically the residential and commercial street of Atlanta's white elite, and Sweet Auburn, the spiritual main stret of Atlanta's black community, mirrors the often separate but mutually dependent worlds of whites and blacks in theis southern city. Through hundreds of interview and five years of research, the author shows how two families, the Allens descended from slave owners, and the Dobbses, from slaves, produced two influential mayors of the modern south, Ivan Allen, Jr., and Maynard Jackson, Jr.