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From the Editor: Gloria Gaines

THE ALBANY SOUTHWEST GEORGIAN is an icon in this community.  It is historic.  A.C. Searles was revered for his love of community, as an educator, as a coach and for his tenacious coverage of the Albany Movement.  He taught my mom at Madison High School during the World War II and went on to teach my generation and many others at Monroe High School.  For everything that he did for us, we thank him and his successors, Art and Giselle Searles.  As the Searles Family moves on, I am proud to do what I can working with the publisher and staff to continue the legacy and to enter responsibly into the next phase.  We ask for your prayers and support!

As editor, I will be working with the publisher and the staff that has been assembled to ensure that our vision for the paper is maintained, continuously crystalized and nurtured.   We want to be your instrument.  We want to carry your message, the messages from your families, from your neighborhoods, from your churches, from your sororities and from your businesses.  We will be a voice for the voiceless.  We will tell the stories of the good people of Southwest Georgia.  We know that we are more than Shot, Stabbed and Robbed.  We are hardworking mothers, fathers and families.  We are honest and descent people who care about and respect each other.  We are people who when handed a lemon made lemonade.  It is time for us to define ourselves and not have others tell us who we are.

Frederick Douglass, who was an ex-slave, abolitionist, writer, publisher and editor of THE NORTH STAR said, “Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave,” well folks, we are going to fit in a little knowledge as well.  We are going to see how we can free our minds and God given talents to the benefit of us all.  We will educate ourselves on those matters that affect the quality of our lives.  We are going to talk about what makes a good citizen and what makes a good representative of the people.  We are going to find ways to encourage participation in the civic, social, religious and economic life of Albany, Georgia, and beyond.  While we elect and respect our representatives in government and even in our churches, we are going to see how we can help them to be the best representatives of ourselves possible.  Working together, we can do it.

I grew up here.  I can trace my family back to slavery here.  I know the family that owned my ancestors.  I am Albany born, Albany bred and Albany committed.  The red clay of Southwest Georgia will receive my bones just as it did four generations before me.  I am honored to take on this responsibility as editor and will welcome your ideas.

I look forward to hearing from you.  What is your story?  What do you want to know?

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End of era at historic Southwest Georgian

We take this moment to thank and honor the Searles Family, publishers and editors of this historic voice of the people for more than 80 years.  Mr. A.C. Searles published and edited this respected and much needed representation of African-American citizens of Albany, Georgia, in 1938, at a time of raw, rank and hardened segregation throughout the South.

The paper started on the heels of the great depression and when Hitler was on the rise in Europe just before the entry of America in World War II.  Jesse Owens, had a few years earlier, won four Gold Medals; the first black federal judge had just been appointed to the bench by President Roosevelt; the Sleeping Car porters had recently signed their first collective bargaining agreement with the Pullman Company; Joe Louis had won the heavyweight championship; the first black woman state legislator had been elected to the State House in Pennsylvania; and, the great Marion Anderson was about to perform at the Lincoln Center.

None of these great firsts were happening south of the Mason Dixon Line.  Equally as momentous to this little farming town in Southwest Georgia, Coach Searles stepped forward and gave his talent, skills and commitment to the least among us.  A giant step at the time.  The population of Dougherty County was less than 30,000.  The City had just reached its 100-year mark as a European settlement.  Chehaw Park had just been constructed as a result of the New Deal; it was just before construction of the Air Corp Base; J.W. Holley, Albany State University’s founder, was still president; and the Harlem commercial and entertainment district was growing in economic significance.

It is against this backdrop that the Albany Southwest Georgian was founded.  The paper really gained its legs during the Albany Civil Rights Movement.  Mr. Searles was ubiquitous, he was everywhere.  He endured threats, shoves, and insulting remarks from authorities.  He stood firm.  Never gave an inch.  He got the picture.  He got the story and he told the story in both pictures and words.  Bush journalism at its best.  His son, the late Commissioner Art Searles who was an extremely consequential figure in his own right in local politics, took the helm in l996.  A friend to so many in so many ways.  A voice and personality that had to be reckoned with.  Art was publisher and editor until 2008 upon his death.  We thank his wife, Giselle, for her hard work in keeping this paper for the last ten years against all odds.  She persevered when so many community and local papers went under.  Thank you, Giselle.  Thank you, Coach, and thank you Art.  We pray we can live up to the legend.

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