Bulldozing the Past

A planned Wal-Mart Supercenter in Sandfly, GA is one of many things that threaten the preservation of one of the oldest African-American settlements in the country.
March 6, 2004, 7am PST | Connie Chung
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"Scores of communities have fought the arrival of Wal-Mart, citing the discount behemoth's propensity for draining the life out of Main Street. But here in Sandfly, which lacks a quaint commercial heart, the argument is somewhat different. Opponents do worry about the prospect of increased crime and round-the-clock traffic that would make it hard for older parishioners to walk to church, but mostly they see Wal-Mart's coming as disrespectful to a community that feels intense pride in its past and its roots in West African culture....Given its dearth of physical landmarks, calibrating Sandfly's historic value can be tricky....But local historians and cultural anthropologists appreciate places like Sandfly for their rich heritage and the remnants of folklore, dialect and religious practices that can be traced to West Africa. Although it thrived here through two centuries of relative isolation, that culture...dies a little with each new golf course, condominium and strip mall."

Thanks to Connie Chung

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Published on Saturday, March 6, 2004 in The New York Times
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