Tag Archives: Athens

Ricky Wilson at Oconee Hill Cemetery-Athens, Georgia

Ricky Wilson was a founding member and lead guitarist for the band The B-52s. Founded in 1976, the group helped put Athens, Georgia on the musical map. While most think of REM and Athens, The B-52s were one of the first musical groups I obsessed over. I loved the fun and quirkiness of the band.

As they were growing in popularity, Ricky Wilson found out he had AIDS and died in 1985. Like so many men who died during the early days of the AIDS crisis, his obituary listed he had died cancer. The band was so crushed by his loss that they did not make anymore music until the release of Cosmic Thing, five years later. It wasn’t until this album was released that band members shared he had died of AIDS related complications.

Whenever I am in Athens, I usually make time to visit Oconee Hill Ce,every and will stop to pay my respects to Ricky. Whenever I visit, there’s always some memento left behind.

The breeze of grace is always blowing; set your sail to catch that breeze.
– Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

If you’ve never seen the AIDS Quilt, you view Ricky’s pieces of the quilt at The National AIDS Memorial.

Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery-Athens, Georgia

Clarke County

Founded in 1882, Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery in Athens, Georgia was the first cemetery owned by Black community in town. Over 3,000 Black Athenians have been laid to rest here. From Monroe “Pink” Morton, a prominent builder and namesake of the Morton Theater, to noted quilt maker, Harriet Powers.

The Gospel Pilgrims were a benevolent organization started after the Civil War. One benefit the group provided was burial insurance. In Athens, the organization was so popular that by 1912 almost 75% Black Athenians were members.

It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.

Morton family marker

Judia Jackson Harris School and the Hawaiian Ha-le Club-Athens, Georgia

Clarke County

Some of you may know this building in Athens as the Hawaiian Ha-le Club. It’s one of the places the B-52s identified as an inspiration for their song, ”Love Shack” and the lyric, “Tin roof, rusted!” They mention it in several interviews over the years. More importantly, this is the only remaining Rosenwald School in Clarke County, Georgia. My research had led me to believe they had all been demolished. That’s the case with many Rosenwald Schools, the history gets lost until someone shares the connection. Originally called County Training School (a common name for Rosenwald Schools), the school’s name changed to the Judia Jackson Harris School. Judia Jackson Harris was an early Black educator who worked to raise money to build this school after the original school burned. Historic Athens recently named this as a Place in Peril. This school needs to be saved.