H. Victoria Hargro Atkerson is an imaginative and masterful storyteller who enjoys the creative process so much that she spends eight to ten hours a day perfecting her skills. She lives between the words, sentences, paragraphs, and pages of her many stories.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia in a large close-knit family, she listened to her elders weave words into colorful, imaginative stories. It is a tradition that continues today as she sits around the family table telling stories of recent and past family histories. Her latest novel, Buttermilk Bottom, incorporates a series of family stories, neighborhood folklore, and plain old gossip… All the elements of a great story.
Childhood & Beginnings of Activism
As a child going to elementary school in Atlanta’s 4th Ward, Victoria passed by this forbidden, Buttermilk Bottom neighborhood going to and from C. W. Hill Elementary School with her friends and siblings. Many of her school mates lived there. The notorious reputation of the neighborhood prompted her parents to restrict her and her siblings from entering the crime-ridden community, a reputation that unveiled every weekend in shootings and stabbings incidents. Gunshots could be heard from Friday afternoon until late on Sundays. Despite the threats of punishment, Victoria and her siblings visited friends in the infamous neighborhood during the week because it was fun and the dirt muddy roads were filled with wild, fun-seeking children.
Before becoming a writer, Victoria attended school in Atlanta, GA., attending David T. Howard High School and Morris Brown College. While studying at Brown, she joined the peace movement and the fight for civil rights, marching with Dr. Martin L. King and hundreds of students down Atlanta’s Hunter Street, where she happily caught glimpses of her siblings in the dense crowd. Marching, participating in sit-ins, working on voter registration drives, she was an enthusiastic participant with school mates, friends, and family. She was part of a mission that young people of the era took seriously with a strong sense of commitment and devotion.
Peace Corps & Service to Community
Victoria left school during her junior year of college to join the Peace Corps. She was stationed in Brazil where she worked in the Community Development Program. While in the Peace Corps, she was able to travel to different parts of the country. She worked in Espirito Santo and in Rio de Janeiro. Her favorite city in Brazil is Salvador du Bahia because it typified for her the rich history, culture, and traditions of Africa. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, she worked in the School-to-School, the Food for Peace, Family Planning, and Community Development Programs. Victoria also worked with the local orphanage, planning and developing programs and funding throughout the year.
Following the Peace Corps, Victoria moved to Philadelphia, married, and worked with Dependent-Neglected Children and Youth for Catholic Social Services. Years later, she opened and organized a group home in Philadelphia’s Germantown for dependent girls. Retiring early from Catholic Social Services, she owned and operated a home-based travel agency, which she continues to do.
At Home in Philadelphia
Victoria continues to live in Philadelphia with her husband and family where she enjoys quilting, baking, fishing, knitting and other crafts. She is an active member of Oak Lane Presbyterian Church where she serves as an elder. At the local library, she teaches writing to children and adults. Being passionate about our history, she teaches African American History and Culture to youth in her community because she believes that our rich, diverse history is the anchor for building strong character, values, self-esteem, and positive leadership skills. She believes in active participation in the political process and is a member of many community and national organizations that support positive life experiences for people of color.