There are people in this town doing great things who in my opinion don't get enough credit for what they do, generally because they've preferred to work outside the local good-ole-boy networks. I want to talk about a couple of them today.
Dr. Ja Jahannes is, quite simply, one of the most interesting, delightful and knowledgeable people you'll ever meet, and also one of my favorite people in town. A writer and a photographer, he is also quite conversant in politics, psychology and sociology, and is always good for an enlightening lesson in local history.
Jahannes has been contributing in all these fields for many years, and his latest effort is a remarkable collection of photographs, Sunday in Savannah, now on display at the Beach Institute downtown. The photos largely deal with the sights and experiences of typical church services throughout Savannah's African American community.
A lot of people tend to focus on certain iconic aspects of local life, such as St. Patrick's Day, SCAD, Paula Deen, ‘The Book,' the port, the Landings, the military, Creative Coast, etc. But the African American churches are no less an influential part of life here, yet usually go strangely unremarked.
Jahannes' exhibit sheds light on what Martin Luther King Jr. famously called "the most segregated hour in America," i.e., that time on Sunday morning when white people go to their churches and black people go to theirs.
The exhibit is now up at the Beach Institute, 502 E. Harris St. Read Patrick Rodgers' story about the exhibit in this issue.
Many of you might know Bess Chappas from her efforts with the Savannah Story Spinners organization, a labor of love intended to keep alive the spirit and practice of storytelling in this increasingly digital, remote world.
What not enough people know is that Chappas is also a successful children's book author. Her first book, Kiki and the Red Shoes, tells the story of a six-year-old Greek girl who in 1939 receives an important gift from her aunt who has emigrated to America. Illustrated by Sandy Branam, the book is available locally and at online retailers.
Chappas' second book is out, a sequel of sorts called Kiki and the Statue of Liberty. Also illustrated by Branam, the second book tells the story of Kiki and her brother's voyage to America and unite with the rest of her family.
Chappas will be on hand at E. Shaver Bookseller downtown for a booksigning this Saturday from 2-4 p.m.
Kudos to both these special Savannahians.
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