A wise African woman once said, “if one is not careful, facts can obscure the truth.” Facts speak to details, but the truth speaks to how those details unfolded. This literary work knits together the whispered narratives of the almost nonexistent public history of African American men who were elected and served in the Georgia Legislature in the 1800s. Fresh from the clutches of slavery to the highest offices in the state, these intentional men fused their voting power to impact legislation that delivered many things; among them, a county named Douglass.
Author, Tracy Rookard Shaw reveals the connection between the infamous expulsion of black legislators from office in 1868 to the eventual creation of what is now known as “Douglas” County, Georgia. She compels her readers to walk with her through the end of slavery and then directly through Reconstruction’s door. Once inside, she puts forth fascinating evidence that definitively ties the name Douglass (two s’s) to the county created by Governor Rufus B. Bullock on October 17, 1870.
After a series of twists and turns, she uncovers constitutional breaches that will have legal scholars across the nation debating whether some counties in Georgia, to this day, are legally formed. Last, readers are taken on a photographic journey that maps the African footprint in the county. The Ghosts of Douglass County is the intriguing untold, true story of murder, politics, betrayal, and the genius of African American survival in the midst of a nation’s transformation.