Taking down a mammy complex

Plan to demolish longtime anti-Black restaurant stirs backlash

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When Aunt Fanny’s Cabin was in its heyday, when socialites and celebrities and presidents (at least the one from Plains) flocked to the outskirts of Atlanta to order “genu-wine Smithfield ham” off menu boards fitted around young Black men’s necks, well-placed white residents of Smyrna, Georgia believed Black citizens of the city were glad to sing and dance for them.

Although the blatantly racist restaurant closed in 1992, the former tenant farmer’s home which housed it has sat in the center of downtown—a sawn wood saddlebag dwelling in view of a Publix—since 1997, when the city plucked it from the path of developers to serve as a welcome center. “When Aunt Fanny’s is gone, Smyrna is gone,” a distraught longtime customer told sympathetic city leaders at the time.

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