Coming to PBS tonight, Tuesday, March 24:
EAST LAKE MEADOWS: A PUBLIC HOUSING STORY
Sarah Burns and David McMahon
PBS broadcast (March 2020)
The history of an Atlanta public housing community.
Located on the outskirts of Atlanta, adjacent to a golf course, East Lake Meadows opened in 1970, serving an urgent need for public housing for low-income families, primarily African Americans. After years of neglect that facilitated the emergence of crime in the community, an agreement was reached between developers and the city of Atlanta to demolish the housing in 1995 and replace it with a new mixed-income community. Filmmakers Sarah Burns and David McMahon explore the history of the development of East Lake Meadows through to its re-envisioning as an upwardly mobile part of the greater Atlanta area, delving into the narratives that enabled the transformation, and the role that racism and classism played. Interviews with former residents of the community speak to the positive forces that were overshadowed, unfairly, by a reputation for crime and violence that was blamed on residents, ignoring the systemic inequalities that stacked the deck against them. What emerges is a fascinating oral history of resilience and reclamation, setting straight the accepted but shamefully flawed official story, like so many others involving public housing in the nation’s history.