Collier Heights: Vintage MCM by and for Black Americans

2 min read What Collier Heights, a stunning MCM neighborhood built by and for Black people outside Atlanta Georgia, can teach about racism in America.

Today, let’s chat about the gorgeous mid-century modern neighborhood of Collier Heights in Atlanta, Georgia which was planned for, built by, and lived in by Black Atlantans.

Note: This isn’t a story about a silver lining to the bad situation that is racism.  Nor is it any kind of an example of solutions that point the a way forward today.  (We will not make America better by building better quality segregated spaces.)

Instead, I see the history of Collier Heights and the dedicated citizens who built it as example of making lemonade out of some pretty sour lemons. 

Hey, friends.  I’m still thinking a lot about race and housing in the US this week … so that’s what you’re going to hear about from me.  Last week, I dug into some the factors that have prevented Black families in America from owning their own homes. There were many.  But that doesn’t mean that no Black people lived in, designed, or loved mid-century style houses. 

Tune in to learn more!

Read more: Midcentury Style Frames Storytelling in Hidden Figures

exterior of the Vaughn house in Hidden Figures movie, shot in Collier Heights, Georgia

In today’s episode you’ll hear …

  • What to watch right now instead of “the Help” (sidebar: WTF Netflix?) [1:30]
  • How the movie Hidden Figures tells the story of talented Black women working to contribute to the early years of NASA and and was shot in the real homes of talented Black citizens who lived outside of Atlanta during the same era. [2:00]
  • How to go check out some amazing photographs and oral history of Collier Heights in the 2016 photo essay prepared by Lydia A harris for Southern Spaces and why they were built with such astonishing social spaces hidden in their basements [3:15]
  • An abbreviated history of how Atlanta (and really cities across America) used official planning policies and government created committees to facilitate racially segregated communities during the MCM period [4:40]
  • More Atlanta context via the excellent history podcast Archive Atlanta created by Victoria Lemos [7:35]
  • Mini Bios of two talented Black Atlanta architects: J.W. Robinson and Edward Miller who helped build both Collier Heights and a safe space for another generation of Black architects in Georgia [9:15]

Listen now on

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Resources on Collier Heights Mentioned in this Episode