As Told To

By Jewel Wicker

The power of newspaper archives and cold calls

#10・
22

issues

The power of newspaper archives and cold calls
By Jewel Wicker • Issue #10 • View online

I don’t love popping up at people’s businesses unannounced or doing cold calls. But, doing so has sometimes helped me produce my favorite stories. (Granted, I cover entertainment so I am rarely surprising people with serious accusations, although I’ve certainly had to do this a few times. The job is the job.) When a new bookstore for rare Black books opened on Auburn Avenue, I drove by the store when I didn’t hear back via email. The kind owner admitted she probably wouldn’t have responded to me because she was wary of media. Meeting me in person helped ease some of her concerns.
When I was assigned a story about St. Andrew Beach, the segregated portion of Jekyll Island’s for Black people, earlier this year, I did my usual research and came across the name of a woman who said she worked at the Dolphin Club, the only motel and lounge on the beach, as a teenager. With few leads beyond this, I nervously cold called the woman, now in her late 70s, at her home in College Park. After grilling me, she agreed to speak with me after her water aerobics class the following Monday. When I called that Monday, she told me to call back later. Kobe Bryant had died and she wanted to watch his memorial service. After the memorial service, she informed me she was getting ready for bed.
I eventually connected with Ms. LaVances and she was a MAJOR help, rattling off the names of other people who worked at the Dolphin, including a fellow teenager who would eventually become her husband. She told me about people who played regularly at the Dolphin and some of the leaders who advocated for the opening of St. Andrew Beach. I was able to corroborate her stories through the archives of Black publications such as Atlanta Daily World. Looking at the old articles and learning about this time in history brought me sooo much joy. Unfortunately, though, a lot of the people Ms. LaVances mentioned and the people I came across in press clippings, proved harder to reach. Many of them have died. To tell this story, I had to rely heavily on newspaper archives and previous work done by Jekyll Island Museum and the Georgia African American Historic Preservation Network. It was a worthwhile reminder of how important archival work is.
I’ve been meaning to interview my own family, to get our personal history down as well as some of their experiences growing up in various eras of Atlanta. Has anyone else embarked on a project like this?
Note: Newspapers.com is a site that is worth paying for if you’re a reporter who regularly needs to dig through the archives of various publications throughout the country. When I was looking at Black publications specifically (because the traditional publications didn’t cover St. Andrew Beach), I used Auburn Avenue Research Library’s online database.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT (a few of my bylines from the past two weeks):
(see above.)
Note: This story was supposed to come out months ago but, COVID.
I made my debut in GQ this month with a profile of Atlanta rapper Lil Baby. It’s easily one of my favorite interviews I’ve conducted this year (even though he originally tried to get out of chatting with me LOL).
Jewel Wicker
A BTS story: As he was walking into the studio, Lil Baby started ranting about having a headache in an attempt to get out of our interview. (It’s no secret he doesn’t love doing press.)

Us as soon as he turned the corner knowing I heard him: https://t.co/u1gafTCwWR
Actor and comedian Lil Rel provides a sobering look at this immense year of loss and why he advocated for having a grief counselor on set.
Kudos to Durand Bernarr for the extremely appropriate title “Badu Babies" (not to be mistaken for the actual babies Erykah Badu helps deliver as a doula).
If you’re unfamiliar with the details of the 1970 Augusta Riot, this is a good time to learn about it. This year is the 50th anniversary of the riot, where six Black men were shot in the back. The riot was sparked when 16-year-old Charles Oatman was beaten to death in a county jail.
WHAT IM LISTENING TO (AND WATCHING):
My mom, an avid viewer of true crime shows, was APPALLED that I didn’t know the story of Shanann Watts before watching American Murder: The Family Next Door last week. Shanann, who regularly posted about her family in Facebook groups, was murdered by her husband, Chris. He also killed their two young daughters.
This documentary uses social media posts and Shanann’s text messages leading up to her murder to tell the story. It’s chilling and devastating.
21 Savage x Metro Boomin - Runnin (Official Music Video)
21 Savage x Metro Boomin - Runnin (Official Music Video)
I hadn’t realized how much I missed 21 Savage and Metro Boomin until Savage Mode II dropped. In this video, the pair roam around Atlanta allowing locals to hold Savage’s Grammy.
This New York Times video looks at voter suppression, using Georgia as an example.
Jewel Wicker
This was excellently done. And really sobering to see the long wait times of residents in Ben Hill, where I grew up and some of my family still lives, included as an example of voter issues in Georgia and throughout the country. https://t.co/WY5NYpoUCz
My favorite movie is on Netflix. Can’t wait to skip the next debate and watch this instead.
RECENT READS:
This piece is a great reminder that being a series regular on a popular TV show does not always guarantee ones future.
Well, this certainly sparked a bunch of debates on social media…
Jewel Wicker
“Atlanta will be known for lemon pepper wings & great strip clubs if we’re not careful. There’s a requirement of substance in this city, & it’s incumbent upon all of us to stress that—not just to our CEOs, but to anybody who wants to call this place home.” https://t.co/a0aV56dB9X
‘A Battle for the Souls of Black Girls’ by Erica L. Green, Mark Walker and Eliza Shapiro for The New York Times
I talked a bit about hows Black kids are often in schools that resort to punitive measures for even minor infractions in my last newsletter. This article looks at this, focusing especially on Black girls.
The disproportionate discipline rates among girls indicate what researchers have long said about all Black children: It is not that they misbehave more than their peers, but their behaviors may be judged more harshlyFederal civil rights investigations have found generally that Black students are punished more harshly than their white peers for the same behavior. Black girls in particular are more likely to be punished for subjective infractions like dress code violations and insubordination.
One of the first things I said to my mom when the pandemic began was that a lot of millennials are going to have to move back in with their parents and that there is absolutely no shame in doing so.
An analysis of monthly US Census data by the Pew Research Center reveals that a majority of young adults (ages 18 to 29) are now living with their parents — surpassing a record set during the Great Depression. These numbers have only increased as lockdown has ground on: The Pew poll says that 47% of young adults were living with at least one parent in February; that number climbed to 52% in July. 
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Jewel Wicker

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