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Beacon Hill concert to be held on Decatur Square on May 20


Beacon Hill concert to be held on Decatur Square on May 20

Decatur City Commissioner Lesa Mayer, on left, and Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett dance to the music of John Boy & Surround Sound during the first installment of the Beacon Hill Concert Series on Sunday, March 27, 2022. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The Beacon Hill concert will be held from 4-8 p.m. on Saturday, May 20 on the Decatur Square. The concert is a continuation of the Beacon Hill concert series that launched in 2022.

The one-day event will feature funk music from John Boy and Surround Sound, Lakeside and Brick. DJ Quasi Mandisco will be spinning tunes in between sets, and attendees will hear from Beacon Hill elders in between sets as well. There will also be Black and Indigenous food truck vendors on site.

The event is free, open to the community, and is a time to celebrate and reflect on Decatur’s history, including the stories of Beacon Hill, a vibrant Black community in Decatur destroyed by urban renewal practices during the 1950s and 60s, according to a Facebook post from the city.

On Saturday, speakers will include Wilson and Omer Rogers. Rogers’ family owned the Rogers Cab Company. Members of the Trinity High School championship football team will also be acknowledged and share about their experience of being state champions but not receiving acknowledgment for their championship until decades later.

The first installment of the Beacon Hill Concert Series was held on the lawn at the Beacon Municipal Center Plaza at West Trinity Place and Electric Avenue in March 2022.

Last year, the concert series featured a performance by John Boy and Surround Sound as well. The artists also represented a variety of genres throughout the 2022 concert series.

“We want to make sure that we are incorporating as many different styles and genres of music by Black artists as we can,” Mayer said. “This particular show, with it being larger and being the only one this year, is going to be a funk show based on the feedback that I received from elders and what was important to them, what they wanted to see.”

The concert series was inspired by a directive from Mayor Emerita Elizabeth Wilson to host a concert on the Beacon lawn.

“It started because there was an unveiling at the tiered greenspace that sits between the police station and the Ebster Rec Center,” Decatur City Commissioner Lesa Mayer said. “Mayor Elizabeth Wilson and I were sitting and listening to a string duet that was playing in that space. We were talking about how beautiful the acoustics are there.”

Wilson mentioned she would like to see a concert there, so the space could be activated, “but also because the acoustics were so beautiful, we wanted more people to be able to hear what that sounds like,” Mayer added.

Last year, instead of planning one concert, Mayer planned a concert series.

The Beacon Municipal Center was the site of Trinity High School and the Beacon School before that. Part of the Trinity High School gym is still part of the Ebster Recreation Center.

“It was the Black school during segregation,” Mayer said. “I don’t know that visitors to Decatur or even residents in the city of Decatur really know a lot about the history of that site and why it’s significant. The concert series wasn’t just an opportunity to bring music or to bring entertainment to Decatur, it was really an opportunity for us to provide education to people about the Beacon Hill community and to honor it in a way that it had never been honored before.”

She added that there is a need to amplify the stories of people who were displaced and forced out of their communities.

“While Decatur prides itself as being a welcoming city, and one that prioritizes equity and diversity, without acknowledging the ugliness of the history when it comes to the destruction of the Beacon Hill community, we aren’t really able to move forward in equitable acts,” Mayer said. “We have to acknowledge that history to be able to build from that and not recreate those same acts in the future.”

Here is the schedule of the performances:

– 4 p.m.: the concert kicks off

– 4:30 p.m.: John Boy and Surround Sound

– 5:40 p.m.: Lakeside

– 7 p.m.: Brick

“This is significantly bigger. The city of Decatur is commemorating its 200th year,” Mayer said. “It is very important that the history of Beacon Hill is a significant and amplified part of the acknowledgment of the history of the city of Decatur. We cannot commemorate 200 years of the existence of the city of Decatur without celebrating the importance of Beacon Hill, its residents, its businesses and without having a real conversation about why it was destroyed.”


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