Atlanta History Center to screen Sweet Auburn Curb Market film


Sweet Auburn Market Film Screening and Panel Discussion

7 p.m. Feb. 4. $10 public, $5 members. Atlanta History Center, 130 W. Paces Ferry Road N.W., Atlanta. 404-814-4000,

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion including filmmaker Katie King, Auburn City Market Manager Pamela Joiner, Market Security Chief Gerald Boyd (also a third-generation customer who was interviewed in the film) and Melissa Booth Hall, assistant director of the Southern Foodways Alliance. Vendors from the market will be there selling their wares, so participants can get a taste of the market’s food after watching the film.

A new short documentary film that takes a look at Atlanta's Sweet Auburn Curb Market will have a screening at the Atlanta History Center on Thursday.

Atlanta-based filmmaker Katie King, who made the film in the summer of 2014 as part of her master’s thesis in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi, says she was interested in gathering oral histories from people whose families have been using the nearly 100-year-old food market for generations.

King says she became interested in the market when a friend took her there just to get some lunch. Though she’d grown up in Marietta, she was unfamiliar with the market and its long history. “It was such a lively and bustling place I hadn’t known about,” she says. “When it came time to start thinking about my oral history work, I was thinking a lot about focusing on it.”

King says she was surprised to learn that, though the Auburn Avenue area itself has often been the focus of consistent research due to its connections with black history and the civil rights movement, there had been little historical work specifically related to the market itself. “There’s so much historical analysis around this neighborhood, but to leave this market out of it seems an oversight. I was looking to fill that hole,” she says.

The Sweet Auburn Curb Market, a block off Auburn Avenue on Edgewood Avenue in Atlanta’s historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, is the city’s only municipal market. The almost century-old market was created on land cleared by the Great Atlanta Fire of 1917. First operated out of a tent, the current building opened in 1924. Through changes to the city, to the neighborhood and to the market itself over the years, the space has remained a source of fresh food and tradition in Atlanta.

During the summer of 2014, King spent six days a week at the market conducting interviews. “As I got into it, I found this giant community there, generations and generations of people who have virtually raised their families at this market,” she recalls. “That was so unknown outside of the market. When I told people that that was where I was doing work, I was surprised so few people had heard about it at all. That was what drove the film itself, to give voice to this little community.”

King made her film with the support of a fellowship from the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute at the University of Mississippi dedicated to the study of the food of the American South. The completed documentary is about 11 minutes long, consisting mostly of interviews with customers, vendors and staff. King says she particularly sought out subjects whose families had been connected to the market for several generations.

King did all the interviewing, filming, and editing for the film herself. She says one of the most surprising things she learned in the process was the deep connection and sense of community so many customers have maintained. Many people who had been displaced by urban renewal in the 1960s or had moved to the suburbs or to other towns in Georgia still come back to the market many times a year to buy food.

“It was deeply embedded in their family histories and in their sense of tradition, especially at Christmas, New Year’s and Thanksgiving,” she says. “Those are the times the market really takes off. People will come from all over the state of Georgia to get collard greens because that’s what they did growing up.”