Growing up in White Plain, Georgia, Hillman’s introduction to history started young as a student in school. There she learned about African-American history on a national scale.
“History began with me when I was a child in school,” Hillman said. “My teachers were always diligent in giving us Ebony magazines to create scrapbooks of blacks who were making contributions throughout the United States.”
But, a discovery of national black history sparked a curiosity about the history that was local to her in Greene County. A history that she and her teachers did not know much about.
“I developed this desire that there was something else in my community that would connect me to history, but I didn’t know any of that because it was not available to our teachers,” Hillman said.
For Hillman, that connection to history comes by way of the historical house of Dr. Calvin M. Baber, the second African-American physician in Greene County. Hillman’s desire was fulfilled when a friend of her’s notified her about the house.
“They told me that the city was going to tear the house down because it had gotten into a dilapidated state,” said Hillman. “So, I mounted an effort to save it, which was successful and began plans to restore it in 1995.”
With the house in a dilapidated state, Hillman knew she would have to be the one to restore the house. Otherwise, it would eventually be torn down.
There was nobody coming to do that, and I knew that if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done,” Hillman said.
The Dr. Calvin M. Baber historical home is Hillman’s biggest passion. She has constant inspiration to keep working because of what the house will do for the community.
“I feel that everybody should feel ownership in a community that they live in and I don’t think the majority of African-Americans know or understand the significance of who they are,” Hillman said. “And I feel that by doing this they will eventually say, ‘I am important to my community.’”
Although the house is far from finished, Hillman knows the historical significance of it. As well as its importance to the community. She will continue to work on the house until it is finished.
“This is my passion, my heart. I’m in it for the long haul, until it gets done,” Hillman said.
Anthony Walsh is a senior majoring in journalism in Grady College Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.