Friends of Concord Covered Bridge selected for “Bench by the Road” to honor former enslaved people in Cobb County

A pair of hands in shackles

The Friends of the Concord Covered Bridge issued the following announcement:

The Friends of the Concord Covered Bridge are honored to announce being selected for the Toni Morrison Society’s ‘Bench By the Road’ project to honor former enslaved residents of Cobb County. The placement in the immediate neighborhood of the Historic District will be the 33rd bench location across the world and the first in Cobb County, Georgia.

Toni Morrison, a Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize-winning African American author mused, “There is no place you or I can go, to think about…to summon the presences of or recollect the absences of slaves;…There is no suitable memorial or plaque or wreath…There’s no small bench by the road.”

“This is such an honor to be awarded the bench by the Toni Morrison Society. Outside of the statue at the Root House in Marietta, it will be the first significant acknowledgment of enslaved families who lived here,” says Pat Burns. Burns is a ‘Friends’ Board member and championed the project for the area.

While the bench will recognize all the previously enslaved people in Cobb County, the family of Matilda Ruff and her children, Calvin, Zieda and Rhoda who lived and worked in the now Historic District will be particularly named. She and her family were among the 3,819 enslaved in Cobb County, as recorded in the 1860 slave schedule and noted in the book, “First 100 Years,” by Sara Blackwell Gober Temple.

The Toni Morrison Society, founded in 1993 by Carolyn Denard, formerly a professor of English at Georgia State University and Emory University, launched the Bench by the Road Project “giving readers and scholars a reflective place to remember the enslaved, their forgotten lives, and Ms. Morrison’s writings.”

The Bench by the Road Project is the latest of several major contributions by the Friends of the Concord Covered Bridge Historic District, a local historic preservation organization, to Cobb County’s Concord Covered Bridge Historic District.