“Body and Soul”: Decatur Street circa 1925

Body and Soul is a 1925 silent film by Oscar Micheaux that stars one of the original stars of black cinema, Paul Robeson, as a malevolent and scheming minister who extorts the owner of a gambling house and betrays an honest, upright girl, eventually driving them both to ruin. The film was quite forward-thinking and controversial for its time, as depicting a crooked preacher was considered quite shocking, and the film had a hard time making it past the censors.

In the following clip, Steve Bransford of Downhome Traces, the incredible video blog showcasing the history and locations of the city of Atlanta, goes through the film’s depictions of Decatur Street then and Decatur Street now. What was once the dangerous and exciting epicenter of African-American nightlife in the city of Atlanta has changed a great deal as the city continually develops. This piece offers amazing insight into Atlanta’s roots and her future:

Decatur Street is now home to high-end salons and craft beer emporiums, a far cry from its old shadiness. To learn more about its history, see our previous post, “What’s Up with Decatur Street?” or come down to the Pencil Factory Flats & Shops in historic intown and check it out for yourself.

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