We are celebrating Black History Month with a featured interview from Lena Dorsey, who grew up in Bean Creek, Georgia. Read more about Lena in The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Women.
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Lena grew up in Bean Creek, a historically black community nestled in the Sautee Nacoochee Valley, close to Helen, Georgia. After emancipation, former slaves in White County, Georgia elected to stay and form their own community on the same land their ancestors had worked for years. Until recently, this history was not publicly interpreted. In the early 2000s, the Sautee Nacoochee Center relocated and reconstructed a slave cabin at their community center. This building is now interpreted, and is a key piece of the Bean Creek History Project, a community-based initiative to share the stories of black residents in White County.
Foxfire student Hayden Giovino said of his interview with Lena:
Lena Dorsey is known as the “Mayor of Bean Creek” because she is one of the most recognizable people in Bean Creek and is an honorable icon of the community. Through transcribing and writing this article, I gained a great admiration for Ms. Dorsey and her wisdom. Her knowledge of the community stretches back to a time that only a few people can remember. In this article, Lena Dorsey talks about her childhood and the events that surrounded it, like attending the local baseball games and cheering for the local Valley Vets. She also discusses the farming practices that the whole community was involved in when she was a child, along with the changes she has seen, not only in the community but in the world, as well. Lena Dorsey provides a wonderful example for students in the Foxfire classroom in the way she shares and expresses her heritage and teaches others about the past. I was grateful for the opportunity to work with this article and learn about such a knowledgeable woman.