Sparta, Georgia

Broad Street, downtown Sparta.

Sparta is a small town located in middle Georgia. It’s the seat of Hancock county. A leading producer of cotton, the county was booming in the early 20th century. After the cotton crash following World War I, the county entered a long depression, losing more than a third of its population. In 2015, Sparta made national headlines when the Hancock County Board of Elections attempted to revoke the voting rights of 180 African-American residents. Today, around 1300 people remain in Sparta, of which 35% live below the poverty line. Cynthia Smith runs a thrift shop on the town’s main street. She wants to leave Sparta for better prospects, but something is holding her back. Here’s her story:

 Cynthia Smith in her thrift shop.

Cynthia Smith in her thrift shop.