Peaches have been a staple in Georgia for as long as I can remember. Even at an early age I was told that I was a beautiful “Georgia Peach”. Of course I would just smile and consider it a compliment and go on about my business. As one of my first blog post for Peachin around I will admit I did a lot of research before I could organize anything with this new journey of mine as a “Georgia Peach”. I stumbled upon an author named William Okie that has written a book about Georgia Peaches that gave a lot of information about the history of Peaches growing business in Georgia.
The great peach production started after the Civil war, because whites people had all this land and no slaves anymore, rebranding of the south needed to take place. Because growing peaches is not as easy as growing cotton, farmers needed help. Consequently, the now free slaves needed work as well, so they were hired to take care of the crop. [Although this story is starting to sound a little grim, I try to find the positive in as much of life as I can. Therefore, I will state the positive and remain proud of the positive aspect of this “peachful” journey.] Because farmers needed to be well educated in the production of peaches, a school was built in Byron, GA called Fort Valley to educate blacks to work in the peach orchards. Years later Fort Valley State University became a “Tuskegee-like institute”, says Okie. Being well educated was a means of survival during the time of the civil rights movement especially in the South.
These newly freed, uneducated men and women took advantage of this education opportunity and blossomed just as beautiful as a peach tree.
[I know you are probably thinking of all the negative aspects and reasons I should be upset as a black woman or disappointed in quite a few ways. However, with the racial tension that is going on in the US today I will not participate!]. This story shows resilience, strength, and the power of knowledge. No, blacks were not given credit for all the hard work that they put into the Georgia peach orchards. As a matter of fact for a time peaches had become a “white’s mans fruit” and blacks were not allowed or could not afford to eat a peach.
“Well, then Shaun why are you considering yourself a Georgia Peach?”
Because aside from the history of the Georgia Peach I, a born and raised Atlien, consider myself to be a little fragile while growing and one must be educated to appreciate me. Ironically I was born in April during blooming season for all things spring and I love it! Lastly, in this world I would like to provide everyone that takes a bite of information from this blog some nutrient substance with great taste while letting my light shine as bright as it can.