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“Sweet Auburn Blues” Screening and Panel Discussion

February 28, 2019 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABP) invites you to attend our next free ABP Speaker Series event at the Atlanta BeltLine Center.

On Thursday, February 28, 6:30-8:30 pm, we’ll host an hour-long screening of Sweet Auburn Blues followed by a panel featuring filmmakers Alahna Lark and Shonda Harper, one of the film’s lead writers Nina Villani and lead historian Karcheik Sims-Alvarado, Ph.D., with panel moderation by Ricci De Forrest, curator of the Madame CJ Walker Museum.

Kindly RSVP here to attend!

This event is free and open to the public — we just need to know how many people to expect!

About Sweet Auburn Blues

Auburn Avenue was once the richest black neighborhood in all of North America. The impact and contributions of Auburn Avenue, warmly known as Sweet Auburn, have reached across beyond our city and country to other continents, yet its story has largely gone untold — until now.

Filmmakers Alahna Lark and Shonda Harper have partnered with GSUTV, GPB Knowledge, and the Nobel Museum in Stockholm to share the history of this iconic street through a new documentary, Sweet Auburn Blues.

Sweet Auburn Blues is a 60 minute film that raises awareness about the current conditions of this historic street. Hear from residents, historians, business owners and others about the area’s rich past and about their hopes and dreams for the future of Auburn.

The film features a special segment on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with interviews with iconic Civil Rights leaders Kathleen Cleaver and Harry Belafonte recalling personal interactions with Dr. King in never before seen interviews.

About Atlanta and the Civil Rights Movement: 1944-1968

Dr. Sims-Alvarado, CEO of Preserve Black Atlanta, a non-profit dedicated to identifying, recording, and preserving African-American history and culture, will also be available to sign copies of her book, “Atlanta and the Civil Rights Movement: 1944-1968.” The book will be available for sale at the Center for $22.

Recent visitors to the Eastside and Westside Trail have likely seen Dr. Sims-Alvarado’s photography exhibit that presents images documenting Atlanta’s contribution to the civil rights movement on large panels along the trail. Part of Art on the Atlanta BeltLine 2018, the exhibition stretches across 4 miles on the two trails combined, making it the longest public photography exhibition on civil and human rights in the United States. The image below is from the Westside Trail installation.

About the Panelists

Alahna Lark is a global filmmaker whose work has taken her to Liberia, Sweden, Ecuador, and more. She is the director, co-producer, and co-writer of Sweet Auburn Blues. Alahna is best known for her work as the cinematographer for the year long MLK Exhibit, A Right to Freedom, at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm.  She was also Series Producer for the GSU TV travel show Georgia Detours and the documentary series Special Edition which both air on GPB Knowledge. As a child of refugees her main goal is to improve the lives of people of color through her art.


Shonda Harper is the creator, co-writer, and co-producer of Sweet Auburn Blues. She is the owner and creative mind behind the film and video company, Soul Force Productions. Through her company, her mission is to explore and tell the stories and narratives that often go unnoticed and untold. A native of Georgia and a proud graduate of Georgia State University, Shonda has also directed theatrical productions of Almost, Maine, written and co-directed music videos for local artists. She currently resides in Decatur and aspires to conquer the world one story, one adventure, and one beer at a time.


Nina Villani was one of the lead writers for Sweet Auburn Blues, who was the brains behind the Royal Peacock re-enactments scenes in the film. She has also worked as a set dresser on television shows such as Black Lightning and The Passage as well as the feature film, The Front Runner. Nina was hired as a production assistant for the MLK Exhibit, A Right to Freedom at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, and she quickly promoted herself to set dresser by going above and beyond her job requirements on set. She is fueled by the desire to creatively open the minds of others through her writing. She hopes that her work will impact the world in a positive way.


Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado is the CEO of Preserve Black Atlanta, a non-profit 501(c)(3) dedicated to identifying, recording, and preserving African-American history and culture. Dr. Sims-Alvarado has developed a model for utilizing historical and cultural assets as a catalyst for economic and community development and has worked with some of Atlanta’s leading institutions: the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta History Center, Herndon Home Museum, and Central Atlanta Progress. Sims-Alvarado also currently serves as Assistant Professor of African American Studies at Morehouse College.

Atlanta BeltLine Center: Getting here

  • Here’s a link to a map where you can get directions to the Center. We encourage everyone to walk, bike, ride-share, or take public transportation to this event.
  • The Center can be accessed easily by foot or bike directly off of the Eastside Trail, just south of Irwin Street in the Stoveworks Building. Look for the BeltLine Center sign.
  • If you will be driving, there is limited free parking on the first floor of the Alexan on Krog parking deck off Krog Street. Paid valet parking is also available in the gravel lot at the corner of Krog and Irwin Streets.


February 28, 2019
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

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Atlanta BeltLine Center
112 Krog St.
Atlanta, GA 30307 United States
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