Paper Museum Employee Shares Talents With Atlanta

Jerushia Graham in front of her digital billboard in downtown Atlanta.

Jerushia Graham, museum coordinator for the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking, in front of her digital billboard honoring the unofficial "mayor" of Auburn Avenue John Wesley Dobbs. (Photo by Allison Carter)

Georgia Tech employees, like Jerushia Graham, often contribute their time and talents to the greater Atlanta community. Graham, museum coordinator for the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking, recently created a digital billboard as part of Local Stories, an initiative that presents lesser-known facts about downtown Atlanta’s rich history.

Graham’s work honors the leadership and legacy of John Wesley Dobbs, a political activist and the unofficial “mayor” of Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue during the first half of the 20th century, through papercutting and animation.

“The graphic quality of papercuts requires a whittling down of visual information to the essential details,” she said. “After careful consideration, I settled on directing the viewer’s attention to Dobbs’ role in mobilizing the Black vote because his voter registration efforts made concrete and lasting changes.”

Graham’s digital billboard, entitled LEGACY: John Wesley Dobbs, is reminiscent of vintage postcards and posters. The design choice is an intentional nod by Graham to Dobbs’ many years of service as a postal officer. The U.S. Postal Service, one of the few institutions in the U.S. with an integrated workforce at the time, was arguably one of the largest employers of African Americans. Dobbs would ultimately be promoted to a supervisory role over both Black and white employees.

“Although LEGACY is technically a digital billboard, I personally think of it as a postcard from me to each and every viewer reminding them and myself that our lives leave an impact,” Graham said. “I ask that we invest in one another, engage with the history of Atlanta, and participate in the decisions that govern our lives by voting.”

Local Stories are displayed monthly on the digital sign at Margaret Mitchell Square (140 Peachtree St. NW).


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