Recent Hall County events have reminded many of us that our county is a warm and welcoming place to live, a reputation we can be proud of.
One telling sign is last week’s decision by the Hall County Board of Elections and Voter Registration to begin making bilingual ballots and materials accessible to Hall County residents. This measure will have a profound impact, not only making it easier for non-English speaking residents to examine the issues and cast an informed vote, but also conveying the message to people — both in and out of the county — that we’re committed to building healthy community and protecting the democratic process.
While the nation, the South and Georgia itself still struggle with a legacy of civil rights equality, most Hall County folks see all people as fellow human beings who should be valued and treated as such. Patrick Phillips’ 2016 book, “Blood at the Root,” an account of the brutal racial cleansing that took place in Forsyth County in 1912, reveals that although Forsyth leadership drove black residents out of the area and maintained its status as a whites-only county until the 1990s, Gainesville and Hall County did not embrace the same policy. Instead, many of the 1,100 expelled African -Americans were given refuge in our community, and the Hall County sheriff acted quickly and firmly to arrest a small group of local segregationist night riders who undertook their own version of the Forsyth County pogrom.
Those of us who live here already know the generous nature of Hall County, in all its diversity. It’s nice to live among people who understand that it takes effort, vigilance and understanding to sustain a thriving community. If we’re unusual in this perspective, let’s keep Gainesville weird.
Tanya Bennett, Peter Gordon