Popular Archive Atlanta podcast highlights Dr. Rhana Gittens Wheeler’s research

Oglethorpe University’s Dr. Rhana Gittens Wheeler was recently a guest on Archive Atlanta, a weekly history podcast that shares stories about the people, places and events that shaped the city of Atlanta.

Archive Atlanta podcast logo including map of Atlanta

Host Victoria Lemos spoke with Gittens Wheeler about her research on Blandtown, one of the first Black neighborhoods in Atlanta established in the region after the Civil War.

Gittens Wheeler is a critical rhetoric and critical cultural studies scholar who researches identity, public memory, space and place, and media representation, and researched Blandtown as part of her dissertation.

Founded in 1870, Blandtown was a bustling community that thrived on shared resources. But in 1952, the unincorporated community was annexed by the city of Atlanta, redlined and eventually rezoned as a heavy industrial area. The once-thriving community hemorrhaged residents. Then in the 2000s, the area was again rezoned for commercial residences and luxury homes. The displacement of the Black community that once thrived there is considered a prominent example of gentrification.

Gittens Wheeler’s research resulted in the installation of informational signs in Blandtown, describing the historic neighborhood’s important history and helping to keep its story alive.

During the podcast, Gittens Wheeler also announced that her book “Ghosts of Atlanta: Cultural Gentrification of the Black Mecca” will be published on October 15 and is currently available for pre-order.

Based on Dr. Gittens Wheeler’s dissertation, the book “examines the fading echoes of African American memory and historical narratives in Atlanta” and “interrogates and critiques recent developments in the city, including the Atlanta BeltLine, craft breweries, and attractions that romanticize the civil rights movement.”

At Oglethorpe, Gittens Wheeler is an Assistant Professor of Communication and serves as Director of the Rich Foundation Urban Leadership Program, Program Coordinator for African American Studies, and most recently as Special Advisor to the President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She earned her bachelor’s in journalism and MBA from University of Florida before completing her Ph.D. at Georgia State University.

Listen to the full podcast here. It may also be found on Spotify and Apple.

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