Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Katherine Hankins, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Richard Milligan, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Andy Walter, Ph.D.


This thesis explores connections between racialized politics, redevelopment, memory/historical significance, and the meaning of place. In particular, I focus on Buttermilk Bottom, the neighborhood formerly centered on the present location of the Atlanta Civic Center. Drawing on oral histories collected from former residents, historical newspaper accounts, archival materials, redevelopment plans, I trace the discourses about Buttermilk Bottom from the mid-twentieth century to the present, demonstrating ways in which Buttermilk Bottom was discursively constructed as a place of community for neighborhood residents, as a “slum” in need of revitalization by city planners and developers, and as prized real estate to be exploited for economic gain. These competing discourses, which were often highly racialized, reveal the complicated annihilation of memory and meaning over time. Ultimately, this research can provide a lens to view, frame—and challenge—contemporary discussions about redevelopment and preservation for intown Atlanta’s valued commercial and residential real estate.