Macon — Macon is home to plenty of prominent figures, but not everyone shares the same limelight. One figure in particular is Jefferson Franklin Long.
Long is the first black congressman from the state of Georgia and the first black congressman to ever give a speech before Congress. He is laid to rest in Linwood Cemetery which is overgrown by weeds and trash.
Michael Mullen runs the Macon Then and Now Facebook page, dedicated to uncovering Macon's history. Mullen was searching for something else, a cave rumored to be near Linwood Cemetery, but what he found was the grave of Jefferson Long, Georgia's first black congressman.
"I stood there and read that after sweeping all of the weeds and all of the leaves off the grave because you couldn’t even read it," Mullen said.
After doing some more research, Mullen decided something had to be done. He posted the graveyard to the Then and Now page and has sent letters to people he thinks can help create a monument.
"It’s just forgotten history that needs to be remembered and a man and his accomplishments," Mullen said. "[It's] the incredible story and an example of a man who saw every new opportunity as grand and wonderful and grabbed everything he could with gusto and became a very successful man."
Mercer history professor Matt Harper is unsurprised by the state of Long's grave. He says it is a stark reminder of Macon's racial history.
"It’s not just that we experienced a Jim Crow era, but that our memory of history is still stuck in a Jim Crow era," Harper said. "We have big, grand monuments and big spaces to Confederate leaders to white politicians, but we have relegated the memory of the city’s African-American history to neglected spaces like Linwood Cemetery. "
He says in order to change it, the city and community must make a commitment to prominently displaying black historical figures.
"We don’t need to leave the best real estate in Macon to the commemoration of only figures of one part of our past. We have to integrate those spaces, too."
And that's what Mullen wants to do.
"A possibility is in that huge rotunda at the Tubman Museum -- what a fitting place," Mullen said. "I’m talking a statue, 20 feet tall."