The everyday beauty of life in East Point

In intimate documentary portraits from East Point—Headland Drive and the surrounding area—photographer Rita Harper reminds us that you don’t have to be famous to have a story worth telling.

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East Point

Photograph by Rita Harper

This story is part of Atlanta magazine’s Streets Issue—a block-by-block exploration of our city and the stories it tells. Find the entire package here.

Born in Atlanta, Rita Harper is a photojournalist and documentary photographer who returns often in her work to the city of East Point, chronicling residents and street scenes there with a careful eye and a keen sense of everyday beauty. As she explains in an artist’s statement, Harper “wishes to amplify the voices and narratives of everyday, working-class Black people and people of color as a reminder that all our lives have a purpose, importance, and value. That you do not have to be famous to have a story worth telling.” This year, to complement an essay on the hip-hop history of the East Point intersection of Headland and Delowe, Atlanta magazine commissioned Harper to do what she does best: wander around the neighborhood and preserve scenes worth preserving. The photographs she created—on Headland Drive and in the surrounding area—are below.

Harper’s work has been displayed at Future Dead Artists Gallery and Mint ATL and published in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and ProPublica, among other venues and publications. Learn more at ritapharper.com.

East Point
Delowe Pawn Shop

Photograph by Rita Harper

East Point
Delowe Pawn Shop owner Tom Jernigan

Photograph by Rita Harper

Headland and Delowe is “one of the earliest landmarks of Southern hip-hop lore and history,” according to the scholar Regina Bradley. “If we didn’t know nothing else about Atlanta, we knew where Headland met Delowe.” Among the businesses at that intersection: Delowe Pawn Shop, which has been in the community for 37 years and is owned by Tom Jernigan. Nearby: the Walmart on Cleveland Avenue and the American Deli on Main Street.

East Point
Jaxson and Joshua at the Cleveland Avenue Walmart

Photograph by Rita Harper

East Point
American Deli on Main Street

Photograph by Rita Harper

East Point
East Point resident Slim

Photograph by Rita Harper

East Point
Dee with her daughter

Photograph by Rita Harper

East Point
A customer makes a purchase at Delowe Pawn Shop

Photograph by Rita Harper

East Point
Owner Doc Amin at Doc’s Cleaners, which has been in East Point for nearly three decades

Photograph by Rita Harper

East Point
Bahiya Dorsey and Angela Range, two newly hired employees at Make More Beautiful, which Harper describes as a “legendary beauty supply store” serving mostly Black women, located in the plaza at Headland and Delowe.

Photograph by Rita Harper

This article appears in our August 2022 issue.

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