Volume XIX Issue 3 February 2020
MiChael Thurmond p. 24 Cedarblueprints.Com @CedarBlueprints
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BluePrints is published as the official magazine of Cedar Shoals High School. Published opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of anyone other than the staff and individual writers. BluePrints is a student-led newsmagazine published for the Cedar Shoals community to enjoy as well as to educate student journalists. Each issue is an open public forum for student expression under the guidance of a faculty adviser. The BluePrints staff is committed to reflect the mission statement set forth by Cedar Shoals High School. The staff’s goals are to provide fair, accurate news and commentaries, as well as to serve the interests of the school and Athens community. Advertising must conform to the guidelines set forth for editorials. Publication of advertisements does not indicate an endorsement by CSHS or by BluePrints. Students pictured in advertisements are not given monetary compensation. All advertising rates are available upon request from any BluePrints staff member. BluePrints is a member of the Georgia Scholastic Press Association, the Southern Interscholastic Press Association, and JEA. Corrections of errors and omissions will appear in the next issue. Submit letters to the editor to: firstname.lastname@example.org Editor-in-Chief Sachio Goodie Sports Editor Denton Redmond News Editor Stephany Gaona-Perez Managing Editor & Features Editor Tristan Lankford Viewpoints Editor Daveon Montgomery
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Table of Contents Viewpoints 4
Stephens should resign
sports 6 Stomp and shake 8 Sports classifications 16 Coach L’Dreco Thomas
Photo by Alex Soto
16 Police chief 34 Lazos Hispanos 44 Mayor Monford
18 Dr. Maurice Daniels 24 Michael Thurmond 36 Irami Osei-Frimpong
Photo and cover shot by Jackie Wright
46 Reviews Photo by Coriander McGreevy
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Antwon Stephens Should Resign
NOT PRESENT: An empty chair sits at the Feb. 6 CCSD BOE meeting that should have been Stephens’ first official monthly meeting appearance. Photo by Sachio Goodie.
n his incomplete application to fill the District 2 Clarke County Board of Education seat, Antwon Stephens made the claim that he was a Clarke County native and “Cedar Shoals High School 2014.” BluePrints Magazine uncovered that Stephens’ application was incomplete, lacking the required two letters of support, and that Stephens did not actually graduate from Cedar Shoals. As was discussed by board members who voted for Stephens, his graduation was integral to his appointment. A call for Stephens’ removal, whether by motions by the Board or by resignation, is not because he was not a high school graduate. In fact, the inclusion of a voice who was failed by the education system, specifically this county, could be valuable. The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement reports that only 44.4% of graduates are college and career ready. Moreover, Stephens says he attended Ashworth College and James Madison High School for online programs. The issue with Stephens’ current tenure on the BOE is that he earned the seat under false pretenses. Maybe Stephens did in fact leave Cedar because of health issues. He says he was diagnosed cystic fibrosis, a rare illness, at the age of 18, but health problems throughout his childhood forced him to unenroll because of attendance issues. Still, health problems
do not excuse the fact that he misled this community on his application, in his speech and in his political career. As the community scrutinizes Stephens’ political past, scandals continue to surface. Looking into Stephens’ financial reports from the 2016 Athens mayoral race, Stephens claimed that he raised over $100,000 in the only campaign disclosure he has filed on time. After BluePrints’ revelations and reporting by Flagpole and The Red & Black locally, Stephens then admitted that those documents were falsified in a Facebook post saying, “Numbers from my run for (sic) mayor of Athens were fabricated as a publicity stunt to raise awareness to the issues that I cared about in my local community and to fight for election fairness in a race where lower tier candidates were being unfairly excluded.” When BluePrints first published our report that Stephens did not graduate from Cedar, Stephens went on the defensive in the Clarke County School District Town Hall Facebook group that boasts over 2,500 members. He called our work a “hit piece,” and defended his wording of “Cedar Shoals High School 2014,” saying that he referenced the Class of 2014 because those were his peers. In his absence at his first meeting, Board
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president Dr. Lakeisha Gantt read a statement from Stephens, where he cited “sickness and stress,” stemming in part from the “vulture press.” This perception of our reporting only means that Stephens does not regret his actions, but he does regret that he got caught. It’s a response reminiscent of the end of every Scooby-Doo episode where the villain exclaims, “I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!” That same week, another member of the Board criticized our work in an interview, saying that the role of journalists is not to shape public opinion, and that we did not present the whole truth because Stephens continued his education. In fact, we included his claims that he attended National High School, James Madison High School and Ashworth College, all online schools who have declined our requests to verify Stephens’ attendance or graduation. We reported the facts, without bias, like journalists should do. We know now that The Red & Black was reporting the same story, so does the fact that Cedar Shoals students broke the news somehow change the facts? It is difficult to accept the argument that Stephens did not intentionally mislead the board on his educational background. Even if Stephens’ explanation for his wording — the fact that he grew up with the class of 2014 — is honest, he should have realized how his wording would be
interpreted. He should have been more specific, honest and transparent. Embroiled in controversy amidst a mid-contract buyout negotiation with former Superintendent Dr. Demond Means and the Cognia investigation that took place at the end of January, the BOE and the district as a whole are now further embarrassed. Why was he considered for the appointment with an incomplete application? Did Board members run a quick Google search of his name? If even one did, why did he or she not speak up? CCSD currently awaits Cognia’s feedback, possibly at risk of eventually losing our accreditation after formal complaints were filed over disputes between Dr. Means and the Board. With the publicized drama, it makes sense that the Board may have rushed the appointment of the vacant District 2 seat, disregarding any form of a vetting process for the candidates.
Additionally, Mr. Stephens views himself as a politician, and while I’m sure he wants the best for students, his tenure on the Board could just be a stepping stone towards larger positions. He already ran for mayor and Congress, however illegitimately. Before his appointment to the Board, Stephens was running for U.S. Congress, Georgia District 9, the seat currently held by Doug Collins. Constitutionally, he is ineligible to serve. He is six months too young, but he said he was prepared for a legal battle regarding the constitutionality of his eligibility. He did not specify how exactly he plans to challenge the Constitution. Stephens also failed to communicate his ineligibility to donors nationwide, and he claims to have raised over $25,000. Only Stephens knows how much money he raised. To this date, he has not filed the proper fundraising disclosure for 201920. Stephens pledged to donate $5,000 of
that he would be committing himself for mental health issues and suicidal thoughts. We take him at his word, and we hope he gets the help he says he needs. It is easy for emotions to take control when discussing the education of children. It feels especially raw in a community such as Athens where poverty and student achievement are racially skewed beyond circumstantial explanation. Still, political discourse is not always productive and beneficial. Accountability and community concern are admirable, but much of the backlash toward Stephens just tosses gasoline on the fire. He should be criticized, but adults can choose how to express those thoughts carefully. At this moment, it would be best for Stephens to step down to best demonstrate leadership in the community he wants to serve. We need accountability. We need reliability. We need someone who will represent our community positively. While Stephens’ deception is not a legal disqualifier, as Board President Dr. Lakeisha Gantt noted in the Boards’ only response to date, it should be a moral disqualifier.
We need accountability. We need reliability. We need someone who will represent our community positively.
As one online commenter and Town Hall Forum moderator Liza Jackson said, “These issues should have been avoided and probably could have been sussed out easily but it’s a lot harder to catch little stones when people are constantly throwing boulders at you.” Board members are under intense pressure, and while that should be acknowledged, it should not and will not change our reporting or the facts.
The continued scrutiny of the Board and district leaders could also add further incentive for families to move their students away from CCSD. At the age of 17 as head of the Athens Tea Party Patriots, Stephens attempted to organize a convention, but he was eventually accused of theft by deception after failing to pay the keynote speaker, Crystal Wright, $10,000 for speaking fees and travel expenses. She never received a refund or payment, and Wright called Stephens “a con artist” in an e-mail to Flagpole.
those donations to his primary competitor Devin Pandy, but Pandy announced that he would not accept those donations from Stephens, recommending that the money be returned to donors. Stephens did not drop out of his congressional race because he heard the call to serve in his school district. He dropped out because he knew he would lose. First, he would have to defeat a more experienced Pandy in the primary. After that, he would have faced a Republican in a deep red district, running for a seat he is prohibited from maintaining. That all said, the backlash toward Stephens has also been over the top at times. Stephens made mistakes, but personal backlash is unproductive and harmful. After posting his defense and explanation to Facebook, Stephens deleted comments posted to his page before announcing
There is too much drama already surrounding Stephens’ tenure on the Board. We must consider Stephens’ Tea Party convention debacle, his ongoing campaign finance investigations, his questionable decisions in raising money for an illegitimate run for Congress and his deception of the Board and the community. It’s hard to separate any one piece from the other at this point. We at BluePrints hope that Stephens can take the steps he needs to better himself. With the ongoing saga of the Cognia investigation and the tensions surrounding the superintendent contract buyout, Stephens should step down. The Board should take him at his word that he wants to get better, and they should move forward with selecting a new candidate to hold the seat until a permanent representative emerges from the election in May.
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SHAKIN by Lorelai Crook
he cheering crowds, the blasting noise of the buzzer, shoes scuffing the glossy waxed floor, chants echoing from one end of the gym to the other. Bright orange and royal blue uniforms catch spectators’ eyes as the Cedar Shoals cheerleaders stomp and shake Turner-Neathery Gymnasium with energetic dances and chants. “You can always tell when we get done with the cheer. The crowd feeds off of our energy, the players feed off of our energy and it makes the game better,” senior Dania Flint, a four-year cheerleader, said. The Cedar cheerleaders use the stomp and shake style of cheer, incorporating dance and step team aesthetics to create an exciting environment for the crowd and players. This style of cheer originated in North Carolina and Virginia in the 1970s. Historically Black Colleges and Universities such as Winston Salem
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State University use stomp and shake cheer, and many high schools use this style. But it was not always this way. Stomp and shake cheer was introduced at Cedar Shoals by former coach and current teacher Lakisha Bolton in 2003. She wanted to introduce the idea of stomp and shake cheer to the squad at one of their very first meetings to see if they would be interested in learning it. “I asked them what they would like to do. I know traditional cheer and the stomp and shake cheer style. I knew they were doing a mix of both styles at the time when I came to coach, but they were all over the place. When the first practice came they were receptive of the style,” Bolton said. Some people on the outside looking in view not only stomp and shake style as combative, but they also view Cedar Shoals negatively. This one sided perspective does not truly reflect the style or Cedar Shoals.
THE ROAR FROM ABOVE: Cedar Shoals cheerleaders stand above the court as the vibrations of their cheers rumble through the stands as the Jaguars face off with the Clarke Central Gladiators. Tensions rise as the two squads cheer side by side in the final stretch of the game. “You can always tell when we get done with the cheer. The crowd feeds off our energy, the players feed off our energy,” said Dania Flint. Photo by Alex Soto
N O I T I D A R NG UP T SHOWING OUT ON THE SIDELINE: From beginning to end the Cedar Shoals cheerleaders show up and show out at every game of the season. Their cheers motivate to the Jags in intense situations. “Stomp and shake cheer is a way for us to express ourselves and our personality while supporting our school,” senior KeAsia Hunter said. Photo by Dekovian Scott
“People see Cedar and our cheer style as aggressive, and this paints a bad picture. This is our style of cheer and it is unique,” senior cheerleader D’Nasia Clink said. Before stomp and shake cheer was popular in high schools, it was frowned upon and had negative connotations associated with the style. Some viewed it as aggressive, but this idea was anything but the truth. Many people did not understand the story behind stomp and shake, creating misconceptions about what the style is actually all about. “Stomp and shake cheerleading focuses more on trying to win the gym over another squad. Even though you are cheering for your team, you are also cheering for the clout in the gym. It’s more competitive in that way, but it’s all love,” Bolton said. Bolton grew up with cheer and already had a diverse background. When it came to stomp and shake, however, to be different was to be bad. To break the mold of what is considered normal can be dangerous. Stomp and shake cheer is not traditional, and it does not possess the cookie cutter qualities of the long established, more accepted cheer styles. Bolton remembers both a local and
general backlash toward stomp and shake.
chance to yell and dance. I do not get to do that in a classroom,” Clink said.
“People started making rules specifically targeting stomp and shake cheer. They removed the cheerleaders from the bleachers, and it was obvious that it was being targeted. The things written in the state handbook were only specific to just one style of cheer,” Bolton said.
The more that knowledge spread, the more stomp and shake became accepted. Social media platforms launched the exposure of the style, allowing for more growth in high school environments.
These targeted actions against stomp and shake did not sit well with Bolton. She and a fellow cheer coach took it upon themselves to change the perspective of those who viewed the style as belligerent. “We made it a point to join the coaches association, go to those conventions and basically defend the style. It allowed the state to see this is not just something where cheerleaders were going rogue. It’s a different style,” Bolton said. The stomp and shake cheer style is unique and acts as an outlet for students. Jaguar cheerleaders adore the style, and it gives them a way to express themselves and their love for Cedar. “It is a stress reliever. I just have the
“I think social media has really helped the style become more accepted than it was when I started. Back when I did the style there was no Facebook, no Instagram. All you had was the style. So when we did it back then it was more isolated. Social media has allowed other squads to share and see other schools doing the style,” Bolton said. Even though the style was not accepted everywhere right away, from the beginning the Cedar community accepted stomp and shake. Stomp and shake emulates the community and the culture of Cedar Shoals, bringing new aspects of cheer that reflect the current generation of students. “If we did not have stomp and shake cheer at Cedar I would still want to be a cheerleader, but only so I could introduce the style and continue it,” Clink said.
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CLASSC Cedar Shoals moves By Denton Redmond
5-A REGION 8 SMACK DOWN: Quincy Canty slams the ball in for the Jaguars. Graphic by Sachio Goodie.
Apalachee Clarke Central Eastside Greenbrier Jackson County Johnson Loganville Walnut Grove
edar Shoals athletic teams have competed in class 5-A region 8 for 16 years. Recently Georgia High School Association (GHSA) reappointed schools around the state into new classifications, moving Cedar Shoals into class 4-A region 8. The lowered classification results from lower student enrollment.
Cedar was demoted to 4-A because enrollment numbers translate into what the state department of education refers to as full-time equivalent (FTE) figures. Cedar Shoals currently has 1,382 students enrolled for the 2019-20 school year according to the GHSA database. “FTE is sort of like the census count we do as a country every few years. It gives the state a count of how many students we are serving,” master scheduler Mr. Joshua Sampson said. “Our enrollment was 1,300 and some change, so that puts us at the break-off at either high or top enrollment in 4-A. Clarke Central was like 1690, so they’re 5-A,” head football coach Leroy Ryals said. Going into 4-A means joining the company of Chestatee, East Hall, Flowery Branch, Jefferson, Madison County, and North Oconee high schools in region 8. Madison County and North Oconee are the only teams remaining in 4-A
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from 2019-20, so most 4-A teams will be playing in a new region in 2020-21. Some of the competition is familiar, however. In football, the Jaguars have played Madison County the past two years, and they haven’t played North Oconee since the 2017 season. Flowery Branch was formerly in the same region as the Jaguars and moved out in 2016-17. Now after splitting their enrollment with Cherokee Bluff, a brand new school that opened in 2018, Flowery Branch moves from 7-A all the way back down to 4-A. “Flowery Branch was in our region once before, so they’re coming back. Madison County I have a great relationship with Coach Lampe, so again, nothing new. East Hall we play a lot in the summer. So for the most part, I pretty much know everyone in the region. We haven’t played Chestatee in years,” head varsity girls basketball coach TaKesha Wall said. Friendships between coaches play a role in scheduling out of region games. Firstyear head baseball coach Josh Campbell says the change presents an opportunity to develop those relationships. “Since it’s my first year coaching in this region, I could use the coaches that I meet this year as practice as far as building relationships with coaches (for) next year,” Campbell said about building a new schedule for 2020-21. With the new classifications, Clarke Central will not be a region opponent for Jaguar athletic teams, but the rivalry will still be present.
SCHANGE down to 4-A for 2020-21 Joining the new 4-A classification with some familiar opponents, Cedar athletic programs will develop new rivalries and teams to beat. In every sport, 4-A presents tough competition. Jefferson won the state baseball championship in both 2015 and 2016, and in football they finished 2019 10-2 record with their only losses to Oconee and later Crisp County in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. In soccer the Dragons ended 18-3 in 2019, coming up short in the playoff semifinals to Westminster. East Hall and Chestatee pose a threat in Cross Country and both schools perform well in soccer. East Hall ended last season 14-4-2 losing to Jefferson in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. Chestatee ended 10-5-2, losing in the second round to Oconee. North Oconee is a threat in almost every sport. In baseball they produced one of the most dominant pitchers in college baseball in Kumar Rocker, now playing at Vanderbilt. Their football team ended 10-2 and lost to West Laurens in the second round of the playoffs. For Flowery Branch, the Falcons’ baseball team ended 16-14-2 losing in the second round of the playoffs to Cartersville. In football, they ended 6-4 losing in the first round of the postseason to Cartersville. Their 2019 the soccer team ended 7-13, and the current boys varsity basketball team was 0-25 this season. Cedar Shoals’ presence in 5-A will be missed by some teams while welcome
by others. Clarke Central head football coach David Perno sees equally strong competition replacing the Jaguars. “Our region (5-A) is probably not as strong with Cedar and Buford moving out. But you know, it doesn’t have any bearing because we lost some good teams, but Blessed Trinity comes in, Cartersville comes in, so we picked up some good teams too,” Perno said. Next year’s Classic City Championship in football will be the first game of the season for both teams.
year, but I think they should bring a little more intensity and preparation. Their minds will be in the right place because you’re opening up with the Classic City Championship,” Perno said. In addition to Cedar’s new region schedule after the Classic City Championship, the Jaguars will also play non-region opponents including Oconee County, St. Pius, and Winder-Barrow. For baseball, Campbell plans to include Central as a non-region opponent twice.
“It should make it better. You’re always going to be excited first game of the
4-A REGION 8 Cedar Shoals Chestatee
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G N I G CHAN L’DRECO THOMAS By Calvin Williams
t has only been half an hour after the final bell rang, and the students have pushed out the exit of Cedar Shoals High School. The campus is void of life, and in the gym head boys basketball coach L’Dreco Thomas patiently awaits the arrival of his team, whistle on standby.
The balls roll onto the court and all hoops are lowered to be put to use as the team goes through passing and communication drills. The gym horn blows and the team goes straight into a warm-up drill, Coach Thomas at the helm directing his players and demanding intensity. “What I expect from my players is focus and effort. I want them to be attentive and understand in these drills what they
are trying to accomplish,” Thomas said.
Having played basketball at Cedar himself, Coach Thomas teaches his team the values of supporting each other, effort and education. Thomas challenges his players to be at their best on and off the paint.
“What I want with any team is support. The younger players always tend to look up to the leaders on the team and ask questions, and you want to be humble and wait for your turn. So what I try to express to all of my players is that the little things that it takes to be on the team are important,” Coach Thomas said. “It’s important to encourage and help each other do the little things the right way so that you don’t do the big things the wrong way.” Associate varsity boys coach Grant Moro
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has spent 15 years working with Coach Thomas, both starting off their careers at Cedar with the girls basketball program. During this time, many of Thomas’ ideals have influenced Moro. “Since he took over the head basketball job he’s had high expectations for player behavior, both on and off the court. He holds the team accountable and teaches them important life lessons like communication and being on time. Our culture is one of having high standards and expecting our young men to meet that,” Moro said.
Though the basketball program is off to a 24-3 start headed into the postseason, Coach Thomas still strives to provide his student-athletes more opportunities to go to college and find a job after high school. Because of his strong connections to his student body, many of Coach Thomas’
X’S AND O’S: Coach L’Dreco Thomas advises the Jags before their 58-57 victory over Clarke Central on Jan. 2. “The Classic City rivalry is always a tense game, it always brings a large crowd adding on to the fact that it is a regional game,” Thomas said. Photo by Alex Soto.
E M A G NG THE
ALWAYS REFINING: Coach Thomas addresses the team during a time out. He believes that even blowout victories offer opportunities to improve his team. “Being a playoff contending team, all games have importance and when going against lower level teams it’s important to focus on improving our weaknesses,” said Thomas. Photo by Alexis Lemus.
former students and players often come back just to simply hold a conversation with their mentor and friend. Jeffrey Burton, head coach of the Hilsman Middle School basketball team, is one of Thomas’ former players, now working as an assistant coach for the junior varsity and varsity basketball teams at Cedar. “When I first met him I wasn’t really the best student,” Burton said, laughing. “Along the way he helped get me to a better position grade wise, and looking back, I don’t think I would be where I am if it wasn’t for him being a caring person.” After graduating from Cedar in 2009, Burton went on to play basketball at Anderson University and Gordon State College graduating with a degree in physical education, later moving back to Clarke County to take on his dreams of
becoming a coach. “I tried my best to stay away from Cedar due to their success. I wanted to work through my own failures and working with a state runner-up team I felt wouldn’t be the best for my experiences as a new Coach. Unfortunately, all the schools I contacted were full on staff. Instead of giving up, I met with Coach Thomas and he helped me get the opportunity to coach over at Hilsman and later become a coach at Cedar,” Burton said. Early in his coaching career, Thomas was already being challenged and faced hardships that would drive him toward success. Thomas’ father, working through many successful jobs and most known for helping others with early retirement, passed away in 2011. “When I got the job, my dad had just been diagnosed with stage four liver can-
cer. He would often tell me he didn’t want me to give up on my football dreams. But I told him I wanted to pursue it (basketball) and he gave me his blessing,” Thomas said. Unfortunately, his father passed away before the season started. “He never got to see me coach again, which was hard. After that I just wanted to make him and my family proud,” Thomas said, “It’s what has driven me over the years, and I want to be good at what I do, but I (also) want the kids to be the best they can be.” 5’6” sophomore Kashik Brown tried out for the basketball team as a freshman. He did not expect Coach Thomas’ invitation to join the varsity team. “I was a little surprised to be honest. Coach Thomas came up to me and told
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Record All-Time Record
me why I was on varsity. I felt like he saw a different side of me. Size doesn’t mean anything. It’s always heart over height,” Brown said.
get isn’t given to you; it’s earned,” Canty said. “You have to work hard and give everything you got. Nothing is going to be handed to you so you have to go get it.”
After making the decision to return to Cedar for his senior year over Core 4, an elite private basketball academy located in Atlanta run by former Atlanta Hawk Paul Milsap, senior forward Quincy Canty was excited to return to Cedar and practice under Coach Thomas.
Currently, Coach Thomas has led the Jags through a successful record dominating 5-A region 8 with a region record of 9-1, losing only to Buford (73-49) and Archer High (58- 43) in the regular season before falling again to Buford in the region championship. Maxpreps currently ranks the Jaguars as the 19th best team in the state with a record of 24-3. With all eyes on Thomas’ team, the key to the Jags’
“One thing that he taught us that I really think a lot about is that everything you
All-Time Region Record
success comes in the leadership of the players and their reliance on one another rather than solely on their coach. “During games most times when we’re down I’ll just stand and watch my team. You want to see if they can figure it out, and it’s taking a big risk when you do that. I don’t want it to always have to be a situation where they go and look at me. I want one of my guys to step up and be a leader in that situation. I want to see if my kids can handle adversity on their own. That’s what makes us improve together,” Thomas said.
HEART OVER HEIGHT: Coach Thomas instructs sophomore point guard Kashik Brown during the Jags’ matchup versus the Gladiators. Cedar swept the Glads again this year. “Point guards are usually pretty tall, but with Kashik, that’s never really bothered him. He’s worked as hard as everyone else and that’s something that shouldn’t go overlooked,” said Thomas. Photo by Alex Soto
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A CHANGE IN SCENERY By Corinne Register
EASTSIDE HOME: Savannah Duncan-Barnett smiles in front of the Cedar Shoals garden. She describes her experience at Cedar as a second home. “My favorite thing about Cedar is the sense of community,” said Barnett. “My drama teacher described Cedar as being its own little town in Athens, and I’ve definitely found that to be true.” Photo by Corinne Register.
rom small schools to big stages, sophomore Savannah Duncan-Barnett is already flourishing in the drama program despite it being her first year at Cedar Shoals. Acting and singing have always been passions of hers. “There’s so much that goes into making good music. It’s kind of an underappreciated art form because obviously music is appreciated, but how much depth it has is kind of looked over. I remember being really little and singing into a mop into the kitchen. I’ve always had a love for performing,” Duncan-Barnett said.
a drama class, but no program. I didn’t get to tap into that at all last year,” Duncan-Barnett said. Now having the opportunity to participate in a drama program, she participated in The One Act competition last Fall and was recognized by judges as The One Act’s outstanding actress for her role in Crimes of the Heart. “It was a pretty stressful process because for a while it felt like we didn’t really
know what we were doing. It gave me a really good opportunity to get to know the people in the drama department. That’s what I like the most about it; you’re super tight-knit with the people you work with. Everybody comes into the drama classroom and it’s like a safe space,” Duncan-Barnett said. Despite the stress that can come along with performing, her hard work definitely pays off.
Barnett was born in Toccoa, Georgia, but has lived in Athens since she was six. When she was younger, she acted in companies outside of her schools. Previously, Barnett participated in Clovers and Company, a 4-H choir program. She was a cast member of Athens Little Playhouse as well. Even though she has always thrived on stage, Barnett did not have access to an adequate drama program at prior schools she attended. “The last school I was at was a private Catholic school. It was Monsignor Donovan, and there was
CREATIVE VARIETY: Barnett showcases her talents both on stage and on a canvas. “I think it’s just the opportunity to get to know another character and put yourself in their shoes on stage, or sitting down and really zoning in on a piece of art I’m making. All of it is really therapeutic,” Barnett said. Photo by Corinne Register.
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“Savannah has an understanding of what it means to be a part of the play process and what it means to be a part of the rehearsal process. When Savannah walks up on stage, there seems to be a transition from a normal high school student to someone who understands right at that moment to take on their character and be very focused with the work at hand,” drama teacher Mrs. Rosemary Milsap said. Duncan-Barnett has found Cedar itself to be an enjoyable and refreshing experience so far. “I think public school is definitely not for everybody. Cedar is definitely not for everybody, but I’m kind of independent and can maneuver around stuff on my own and don’t really need guidance. It’s been so easy for me to make friends, and get involved with things like the drama program and find my people in general,” Barnett said. Her peers share mutual admiration toward Duncan-Barnett. “She’s such a sweetheart. One of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. Working with her in ‘Crimes Of The Heart’ was nothing but fun,” senior Daryon Redic said.
“Savannah was reliable and easy to work with. Acting with her was comfortable, and we bounced off of each other really well. I was super sick during the one act competition and she was supportive and kind throughout that process,” senior Audrey Bennett said. Barnett had not attended public school since fourth grade but decided that public high school would better prepare her for college. “I think I just kind of realized it was too small. The arts programs weren’t funded very well. It wasn’t really my fit, and I just felt like I needed to be prepared for how college is really going to be because it was really sheltered. It was really hard to find my place because I’ve always been the type to stick out like a sore thumb,” Duncan-Barnett said. Even though Barnett has found Cedar and public school to be a positive experience, she admits that both public and private options can be flawed. “With public schools in general, there are very specific standards that you have to meet. Not everyone has the same learning style, and the workload gets ridiculous sometimes. Sometimes I feel like it’s hard to feel supported as a student because the
administration changes so much. People with a lot of power within the school fall out on us sometimes, so it’s hard to feel heard and represented as a student body,” Duncan-Barnett said Aside from acting, painting is another hobby she finds time for. “It’s not something I’m necessarily pursuing in the future, but it’s a really good stress reliever but it also really helps me tap into my creative side. Because I’m so perfectionistic, I forget to acknowledge I’m also a really creative person too, but as soon as I start painting I tap back into that,” Barnett said. Throughout these creative endeavors, Duncan-Barnett hopes her future profession can reflect her passions. “I really love music, but I don’t really love the music industry. It’s so corrupted at this point; you have to water down your craft to really make it. Best case scenario, I would picture myself doing small coffee house shows, because that’s a really down to earth environment. I also want to go into a psychological field, so I was thinking I might do music therapy. I love kids, helping people and music, so I think that music therapy for kids combines all of that.”
THEATRE FAMILY: (left to right) Daryon Redic, Weenta James, Savannah Barnett, Jenn Dorcin, and Audrey Bennett pose after a performance. Barnett feels her theatre friendships are specifically unique. “I’ve got that class at the end of the day, and it’s like coming home after a long day and being able to do something I really enjoy with people who are like family to me,” said Barnett. “It’s a really safe space to sort of lay out your true self and how you’re really feeling, and channel those feelings creatively.” Photo by Illandria Ellison.
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NEW IN BLUE by Sachio Goodie
thens-Clarke County Police Chief Cleveland Spruill grew up with his mother and three siblings in public housing in Queens, New York. There, he was surrounded by gangs, drug activity and violence to the point where his family was forced to move.
The crime in Queens escalated, and at the age of fourteen, Spruill’s mother moved the family to Richmond, Virginia. There the family was still surrounded by crime. Richmond had more murders per capita than any other city in the United States in his first year living there. “The only time we saw the police come there was when somebody was going to be arrested or they were investigating some kind of crime, and it wasn’t a friendly experience,” Spruill said. These interactions exposed Spruill to the importance of trust-building between a community and its police department.
Out of high school, Spruill didn’t plan to go into law enforcement. He joined the military, part of the Third United States Infantry, even becoming a senior soloist with the Army Drill Team. Then Spruill made the decision to become a lawyer. “When I was in the Army, I kind of had a paradigm shift as far as my thinking. I started thinking, well, I got to do something with my life,” Spruill said. “I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, so I said, ‘I’m going to go to law school when I get out’ (of the military).” Spruill began taking online classes to earn his law degree until he was offered a job as a police officer in Alexandria, Virginia. He planned to work in the police force for a few years, learning about the justice system, before attending law school. 27 years later, Spruill retired from the Alexandria Police Department as Executive Deputy Chief, second in charge of the department.
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Alexandria gained international fame upon the 2000 release of “Remember the Titans” starring Denzel Washington as football Coach Herman Boone, a film showing the city’s struggles with racism and the integration of schools. Those social issues were still prevalent while Spruill served in Alexandria. “I’m used to it and accustomed to it. That’s the environment that I was in in Alexandria, where we were always forward thinking. We were always looking at disproportionality in the adult and juvenile criminal justice system and how we could address long standing social issues that cause a divide or gap,” Spruill said. The police chief of Alexandria, Earl L. Cook, was a friend of Spruill’s as well as an athlete on the “Remember the Titans” football team, and he showed no signs of leaving. Spruill realized that if he wanted to rise higher in the ranks of a police force, he would need to leave Alexandria. Spruill then became police chief of Hunters-
NEW FACE ON THE BLOCK: Spruill says that typically when someone is hired internally, they can have difficulty challenging the status quo and finding new solutions to old problems. “If you always do what you’ve always done, then you always get what you’ve always got. What does that mean? That means if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you shouldn’t expect anything to be any different. In order to accomplish something different, you have to try something different and something new,” Spruill said. Photo by Sachio Goodie.
ville, North Carolina, in Mecklenburg County, a community far different than Queens or Alexandria. Crime was low and the standard of living was high, but it was the memory of his mother who passed away in 2000 that convinced Spruill to find a new job.
and who share the same beliefs. So the more diverse we are as an organization, the more easy it is for the community to trust us and what we’re doing,” Spruill said. Spruill also addressed low level, non-violent crimes and the punishments associated with them, seeing a need for reform. He said that for those struggling with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems, incarceration and prosecution will not actually provide a benefit.
“I know that a community and people inherently trust other people who look like them and who share the same beliefs.” - Cleveland Spruill
“I think she would have said to me ‘You’re wasting your talent. God didn’t bring you out of public housing in the ghettos of New York and allow you to go through the murder capital of the United States, crime and all the stuff that’s going on there, barely getting out of school, to have you rise to be a police chief and sitting in a location where you really don’t have the opportunity to help other people, particularly other people that look like you,’” Spruill imagined his mother saying. With her influence in mind, Spruill moved again to become the new chief of police for Athens-Clarke County. Spruill says that he recognizes the importance of a diverse police force, and how inherent biases can be utilized to grow trust between the community and the police.
“You take a person who has got a drug addiction and you put them in jail for six months for some kind of petty crime. When he gets out after those six months, he’s still got the addiction.”
Spruill also acknowledges the disproportionality in the justice system. “Much of it, just like it did in Mecklenburg County, has come back to extreme poverty and hopelessness,” Spruill said. “In communities where people are born and raised in an environment where they are in despair and they don’t have aspirations or visions, [they] think that they’re never going to be able to have access to the American dream.”
“I know that a community and people inherently trust other people who look like them
Born in Brooklyn, New York City Moved to Richmond, Virginia at age fourteen, then joined Alexandria Police Department Joined the Huntersville Police Department Chief of Police in Athens, Georgia
REMEMBERING THE TITANS: Serving in the police department in Alexandria, Virginia, the remnants of racism were still apparent in the city to Spruill. Alexandria took steps toward resolving those problems during his tenure. “Even back in those early days, Alexandria was beginning to challenge the status quo and look at the racial issues, the societal issues that were causing problems within our communities.” Graphic by Sachio Goodie.
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LASTING IMPACT: Daniels is pictured with Mrs. Louise T. Hollowell, Donald Hollowell’s wife. “Really he (Daniels) always promoted students being involved on campus, being actively engaged in not just learning, but in organizations that promoted leadership on campus. That impacted me as a student as well and probably encouraged me more to know that I chose the right field,” said Angela Gay, Cedar social worker. Photos provided by Georgia Photographic Services.
DR. MAURICE DANIELS’ CONTINUED LEGACY by Melanie Frick
eing a guide and inspiration for people’s futures, Maurice Daniels, former Dean of Social Work at the University of Georgia, has led a life of social justice as a professor, author and documentary producer highlighting the lives of foot soldiers of the civil rights movement. Daniels always looked up to his parents, Eddie and Maggie Daniels, who both worked at the school that he attended growing up in Rochelle, Georgia. “They both had a tremendous influence on me not just from the standpoint of my values and principles, but also on my career,” Daniels said. “My mother was
someone who cared a great deal about the community and about social causes. My dad did as well. And so they both had a great inspiration on my interest in social work.” Daniels attended Indiana University to obtain a degree in psychology, but in his senior year, he realized that something was missing. “In my senior year, my advisor in the psychology department had (a master’s in social work). And I was talking with him about the fact that although I had a very good experience with the School of Psychology when I was completing my senior year, I was somewhat frustrated
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that I had not had an opportunity to do any community work,” Daniels said. His advisor gave him an idea of what the profession of social work was about, inspiring Daniels to seek out a master’s of social work program. Later being accepted into the social work program at San Diego State University, Daniels said that he realized after just the first day that social work is what he wanted to do. Daniels later returned to Georgia when given the opportunity to work at UGA in 1979 as an assistant professor in the School of Social Work, working his way up to become the first African-American Dean of the program.
One of Daniels’ former students in the MSW program at UGA, Derrick Gervin, who attended UGA from 1996-98, appreciates Daniels’ lasting impact. “A lot of it is just kind of through modeling, and mentoring from a distance … just being an African-American male, who is Dean of a program, who is managing a budget as large as the one that we have at the School of Social Work. That meant a lot to me, and I’m sure other students of color too,” Gervin said. Daniels is the author of numerous scholarly articles and national conference papers focusing on civil rights and social justice. In 2000, Daniels and Dr. Derrick Alridge,now a Professor at the University of Virginia in the Curry School of Education, created the Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies, a documentary and research program based at UGA. Daniels says he was inspired by civil rights attorney Donald Hollowell who represented both well known and lesser known activists in the civil rights movement. “Mr. Hollowell shared with me some of the stories and events that occurred as he represented these activists, of which I was
“One of the things that we know is that social change occurs not just because of famous people or events that we know about. It's really the efforts of a wide array of individuals and groups and communities that lead to change.” -Dr. Maurice Daniels completely unaware. His insights helped guide my interest in creating the Foot Soldier Project: to capture and tell those stories and to recognize and honor those lesser-known trailblazers who had made such a tremendous sacrifice for the cause of social justice,” Daniels said. Hollowell’s story opened Daniels’ eyes to the struggles that everyday people had throughout the civil rights movement. “One of the things that we know is that social change occurs not just because of famous people or events. It’s really the efforts of a wide array of individuals and groups and communities that lead to change,” Daniels said.
The Foot Soldier Project has published curriculum guides, and its documentaries have been shown on Georgia Public Broadcasting. While the project focuses on many of the contributors to the civil rights movement, Daniels has been responsible for five documentaries on the following people: Donald Hollowell, Horace T. Ward, Dr. Hamilton Holmes, and Mary Frances Early. Creating the documentaries takes an average of two years per film including research, travel and unexpected surprises in the process. “We have found that it’s difficult in the early stages to identify every individual
ACKNOWLEDGING THE GROUND CREW: Daniels’ latest books include “Ground Crew: The Fight to End Segregation at Georgia State” and his book about Donald Hollowell titled “Saving the Soul of Georgia: Donald Hollowell and the Struggle for Civil Rights.” “Ground Crew” covers the roles of activists in the struggle to end segregation in higher education in the state of Georgia and the NAACP’s first federal court victory for the cause in 1959. “That victory resulted in a federal injunction against racial segregation in all of George’s public colleges and universities, including Georgia State as well as the University of Georgia. This was the first case on the road to end segregation in public higher education in Georgia,” Daniels said.
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that you’d like to interview because during the research process itself, often you learn new information that sheds light on aspects of the story that you did not know. So you certainly want to pursue those perspectives that would help to tell a more full story about the subject,” Daniels said. After serving as Dean for 11 years, Daniels stepped down from the position in 2016. Daniels has kept himself busy finishing his most recent documentary and publishing another book, along with spending more time with his family. Throughout all that Daniels has already accomplished, he is still actively learning and teaching about the influential people in the world who don’t get recognized. Daniels’ latest book titled “Ground Crew: The Fight to End Segregation at Georgia State” centers around the different “ground crew” members who were able to navigate the flight to success for the civil rights movement, specifically focusing on ending segregation in higher education in Georgia. The idea for the book comes from Martin Luther King’s acceptance speech when he won a Nobel Peace Prize.
Documenting the Foot Soldiers
he documentary about Hollowell is titled, “Foot Soldier for Equal Justice; Donald Hollowell and the struggle for civil rights”. Daniels highlights Hollowell’s impact on expandin access to public transportation for African Ameri-
“Hollowell won federal court victories and those cities that ultimately made it possible for blacks to be able to ride buses and other forms of public transportation in a manner in which they were not relegated to sitting on the back of the bus.” Daniels has also written a book about Hollowell titled, “Saving the Soul of Georgia: Donald Hollowell and the Struggle for Civil Rights”. Horace T. Ward was the first African American student to apply to the University of Georgia Law School. Ward ended up suing the school with Hollowell serving as counsel. The documentary that was created on Ward was titled, “Foot Soldier for Equal Justice; Horace T. Ward and the Desegregation of the University of Georgia”, which was made into two parts. Daniels also wrote “Horace T. Ward: Desegregation of the University of Georgia, Civil Rights Advocacy, and Jurisprudence.”
In that speech, King says, “Every time I take a flight, I am always mindful of the many people who make a successful journey possible- the known pilots and the unknown ground crew … without whose labor and sacrifices the jet flights to freedom, could never have left the earth.” Dr. King’s speech resonated with Daniels because the “ground crew” reminded him of his parents and the many community leaders who were active in social justice throughout his childhood even though they weren’t a part of any formal civil rights organizations. Daniels encourages students to be committed to social justice. He says students can work toward that goal by sharing the stories of all the significant foot soldiers, suggesting that looking back at the impact that these people had in the past can help us grapple with our current struggles. “I would encourage students and others to learn from the efforts of these pioneers, of these courageous foot soldiers who fought for the cause of our democracy. And to continue the struggle because we, in my view, are still fighting for social justice in America and in the world,” Daniels said.
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Dr. Hamilton Holmes was the first African American man to attend the UGA. The documentary that Dr. Daniels made about him and his life is titled, “Hamilton Earl Holmes: The Legacy Continues”. Daniels’ most recent documentary chronicles the life of Mary Frances Early, the first African American to graduate from UGA, titled “Mary Frances Early: The Quiet Trailblazer.” UGA’s College of Education has been renamed after Mary Frances Early this month.
By Tristan Lankford
rom flipping burgers at The Varsity to practicing law for 20 years, it’s hard to believe that the majority of Donarell Green’s career has not left the two blocks between his original high school job and his current one at the Green & Green Firm off Hancock Avenue. “That’s the thing about Athens. There’s an opportunity here, and a lot of people don’t take advantage of it,” Green, a 1989 Clarke Central graduate, said. Green attributes his success to his diverse upbringing.
“There is an opportunity to be exposed to a really large cross section of our society as a whole,” Green said. “I credit my public school experience and childhood in Athens for giving me that, and it has helped me as a lawyer.” Becoming a lawyer was not a lifelong passion for Green. Saturday
IN THE COURTROOM morning cartoons originally interested him more than courtrooms or public speaking. He recalls drawing his own comic books before studying art at Morris Brown College in Atlanta after high school.
throughout law school, and even professionally,” said Donarell Green.
“I was more of a social person, and I didn’t really get involved in high school,” Green said.
“I wanted the challenge,” said Donarell, who spoke about the risk of starting his own business rather than taking the traditional route of working for another firm first. “I had faith in my hard work and God, and I felt like with those two things I could do it.”
In college, Green found his niche. “Public speaking and student government at Morris Brown exposed me to different things, and that’s when my interest in law developed,” Green said. After spending a year working odd jobs while applying to graduate school, Green was accepted to Stetson University’s law school in Central Florida. Green’s roommate at Stetson was someone he could trust and whose influence would push him further in his legal studies: his twin brother, Freddrell Green.
One year after receiving their law degrees, the Green brothers opened their practice in 1999.
KEEPING THE FAITH: “You have to have the right perspective when it comes to that, any discrimination. You just have to work hard and have faith,” said Donarell Green. Photo by Jackie Wright.
“We just kept that up (working together), throughout college,
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FAMILY VALUES: “We’re fortunate enough to actually be working in our grandfather’s, family’s building,” said Gregory Green. Photo by Jackie Wright.
On a first glance, the Green brothers look completely alike, but they are defined by distinct differences in their personalities. “He’s a little more sedentary than I am,” said Donarell. “I’m more interactive. I like to get out and talk to people, but he’s kind of more subdued and to himself. Sweetest guy, of course, but definitely more private.” Fredrell’s path to becoming a lawyer was different than Donarell’s, starting off in high school when he had heart surgery that set him back a year academically. During his first semester in graduate school, Donarell spoke with Freddrell, who was still finishing his bachelor’s degree, to shift his career from his original intent to become an Atlanta public school teacher. “I remember we were talking one night, I was like, ‘Man, you should just apply to law school. It would be cool, we would be partners and we can practice together,’” said Donarell Green. “I would like to think that I was somewhat of an inspiration for him, but he might discount that anyways.” When the firm first took flight, the duo tinkered with a wide variety of cases before they found their focus. From probate law to real estate, labor and discrimina-
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tion, the Greens took on everything that came their way. “You’re brand new, nobody knows you, so you’ve got to take cases like that to build a client base,” Donarell Green said. “They refer friends, or they come back to you if you need a lawyer again one day, or they refer family.” Gaining a community network and valuable experience allowed them to distinguish the business’ strong suit to focus on three specialities: criminal law, personal injury and family law. Their original broad-case training gives the Green brothers’ present-day work an edge over other lawyers. “We’re country lawyers, but even if you come to us with the most complicated thing, we have relationships and we can bring in specialists,” Donarell said. Even with their “rural” status because of their location in Athens, they provide benefits like the big city firms in Atlanta. The Greens compare their unique ability to gather experts for their cases to the same comic superheroes that inspired them to seek justice in their youth. “If you need to create the Avengers and in this adventure you need Ant Man, or you need Iron Man for this adventure and you’re only Spider-Man but you need
“We’ve had our disputes and we still do, but the one thing since childhood we’ve been able to accomplish is the backing up and supporting each other. That’s the big picture at the end of the day.” - Donarell Green the expertise that Iron Man brings, that Spider-Man can jump on the phone and get Iron Man in there,” Donarell said. Aside from their power to assemble, the twins have learned how to balance out their personalities effectively, showcasing strengths and diminishing weaknesses. “We do good cop and bad cop all the time,” joked Donarell, who hinted at himself being the devil’s advocate. “It gives depth to our practice, and it gives depth to the representation that we provide to clients. They get my perspective and they get his, which is different.” These differences rarely causes strife within the firm. “We’ve had our disputes and we still do, but the one thing since childhood we’ve been able to accomplish is the backing up and supporting each other. That’s the big picture at the end of the day,” said Donarell Green.
office in his house where patients would come and he’d give them their shots.”
That moment serves as a catalyst for Green Jr.’s character. “That was a lesson of strength that just stays with me to this day because he was so calm, sympathetic, and compassionate,” Donarell said.
TRADITION: The Green & Green Attorneys at Law sign stands outside the Green’s historic home on W. Hancock Avenue. Photo by Jackie Wright.
Bought from Dr. Edward Jones in 1946, Green Jr. ran The Susan Medical office until the late 1970s when former state house representative and current Dekalb County CEO Michael Thurmond leased the building for his practice. After renovating and converting the building into a law firm, the Green twins took over their grandfather’s new place following Thurmond’s departure. Donarell’s best impression of his grandfather includes a vivid childhood memory with his twin brother in the backyard of his house.
Gregory Green, the twins’ younger brother, is the firm’s senior paralegal.
“A bird nest had fallen down from the top of the house and there was this mama bird flying around going crazy because her babies were in the nest,” Donarell said.
“It was challenging in the beginning,” Gregory Green said about working alongside family. “Of course with being siblings we’ll butt heads, but it’s good though, especially when you want to try to get the best outcome.”
Because of their youth and fear of getting pecked, the twins ran inside to grab their grandfather to deal with the situation.
Successful business-mindedness runs in the Green family. Donarell Green III, the twins’ father, was the director of the Human and Economic Development Department in Athens, and their grandfather, Dr. Donarell Green Jr., was one of the first black physicians in the area.
“He just quietly got up, walked outside and put the nest back,” Donarell said. “As he was picking it up though, man, was that baby bird (pecking) at his head. He did not move one time, and me and my brother
“He (Green Jr.) was quiet and he loved his family,” said Donarell IV. “He had an
were sitting there trying to figure out what we were seeing.”
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SHARECROPPER’S SON: MICHAEL THURMOND The
MAKES HISTORY By Jackie Wright
young Michael Thurmond spent much of the 1960s in the back of his father’s pickup truck as they sold fruits and vegetables to families across East and West Athens. Decades later, Thurmond would take the same route to the same houses as he campaigned to become the first African-American elected to the Georgia House of Representatives out of a majority white district since Reconstruction. Elected in 1986 to represent House District 67, Thurmond made history, but this accomplishment took 32 years of education, networking and overcoming racial discrimination and division.
Michael’s father, Sidney Thurmond, worked in the fields in the daytime and at a poultry plant in the evening. Selling fruits and vegetables provided extra income. Vanilla Thurmond, Michael’s mother, helped in the fields and cared for her children.
Reconstruction, 1863-1877 In this period following the Civil War, Republicans gain political power. The 13th, 14th and 15th amendments are passed, giving citizenship, voting rights and equal protection under the law to African Americans. This period ends in 1877 when troops are pulled out of the South and Democrats regain power in government.
“There was nothing he wouldn’t sacrifice to send my brothers and sisters and myself to college or wherever we wanted to go. He knew that ultimately that’s what would make the difference. That’s the great equalizer in the world,” Michael said. Plessy v Ferguson, May 18, 1896 Homer Plessy challenges segregation on the grounds that it violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause in this Supreme Court case. The court holds that segregation does not violate the equal protection clause as long as the Separate but Equal doctrine is upheld.
Watching his father’s interactions with customers on the vegetable route was the beginning of the development of Thurmond’s social skills that overcame any prejudice he would face. “Some of our customers were white and some were black. As a young child, I would watch him interact with people. He would make sure he always treated them with respect, and they would treat him respectfully,” Thurmond said.
Passage of 14th Amendment, July 9, 1868 The 14th Amendment to the constitution says all people born in the United States have citizenship. Additionally it says no citizen can be denied equal protection under the law.
Still Thurmond experienced the injustices of segregated and unequal schools and facilities. Additionally, his family suffered the disadvantages of unequal job opportunities and resources. “My daddy was what we called a sharecropper,” Thurmond said. “So you work the land for the person who owned it, and you share the harvest that you generate from the land. For most of my life, we were just renters, we didn’t own the land. He subsequently bought a farm about eight miles away, but until I was 16, that’s where I was born and raised.” The Thurmonds lived in what is now known as Sandy Creek Nature Center.
Still, the Thurmonds struggled financially with nine children and unfair wages. The youngest of nine, Michael looked up to his siblings. “I would always study them,” Michael said. “One of the things I did was adopt certain characteristics from all of my brothers and sisters. I had a brother, for instance, who loved to write. And that was one of my inspirations for becoming a writer. I had a sister who was very
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smart in school, so I wanted to have good grades.” Like his sister, Michael’s father encouraged his son to learn. Sidney never had a formal education and could not read or write, but in between his jobs he helped Michael with his homework. Sidney knew the importance of education because he experienced the disadvantages of illiteracy.
Clarke Central High School, 1970 As a result of student protests, Clarke Central was founded with a new, integrated student body and identity. The red and gold colors, gladiator mascot, and school newspaper name are all born out of Burney Harris High School and Athens High School’s identities mixing together.
Brown v Board of Education, May 17, 1954 Several cases relating to segregation of schools are consolidated to challenge the Separate but Equal doctrine in the Supreme Court. Students involved in these cases had been denied admission to schools because the schools were racially segregated. The court overturned the Plessy v Ferguson case, deciding separate is inherently unequal. The court also ordered desegregation “with all deliberate speed.”
Thurmond graduates, Spring of 1971 Michael Thurmond graduates with Clarke Central’s first graduating class. In his time at CCHS, Thurmond sets a record for the 100-meter dash and is elected student body co-president.
Integration begins in CCSD, Spring 1970 In Spring of 1970, the Athens community prepares to integrate Burney-Harris High School and Athens High School. Initially, Burney-Harris high school was going to be absorbed by Athens High School, taking on its name, mascot and identity. However, black students from both high schools protest the plan.
Thurmond is born, January 5, 1953 Michael Thurmond is born to Vanilla and Sydney Thurmond
CHANGING DIRECTIONS: After graduating from Paine College with a philosophy degree, planning to enter the ministry. However, he decided to attend law school at South Carolina University. During this time Thurmond was also in the process of finishing his book, “A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History.”
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REACHING OUT: Thurmond believes in the importance of getting uncomfortable to build new relationships. “We don’t build alliances and relationships that we need. Simply because we’re afraid. You may have experienced that yourself. Sometimes you want to have a friendship, you want to engage people. You want to walk across the cafeteria and have lunch with someone else, another group, but you don’t do it and why not?” Thurmond said. Photo by Jackie Wright.
Michael spent the majority of his childhood in segregated schools. The Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case was decided in 1954, the year after Thurmond was born. This case overturned Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) and its “separate but equal” doctrine. The Brown vs. Board decision ordered desegregation “with all deliberate speed,” but it left room for predominantly southern schools to drag their feet in the integration process. Thus Thurmond did not attend a desegregated school until his senior year, 16 years after the decision. At the first integrated high school in Athens, Clarke Central High School, Thurmond was in the first graduating class. He held the position of student body co-president as well as the school’s record time for the 100-meter dash in 1971. The community’s transition toward integration was not as simple as combining bus routes. The process involved consolidating two existing high schools - all black Burney-Harris High School
and predominantly white Athens High School. Before students protested, the plan was for all of Burney-Harris to be absorbed by Athens High. Burney-Harris students were upset by the plan for integration that would sacrifice much of their school’s identity. “While (Burney-Harris students) might have agreed that Athens High School had the larger building and was therefore the more logical place to house the newly integrated student body, they did not want to adopt the school’s name, principal, faculty, colors, team mascot, or newspaper in the bargain. The situation was further complicated by the intense athletic rivalry between the two schools,” Michael wrote in his book “A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History.” While Burney-Harris students recognized they would have to make some sacrifices, they spoke up to achieve a fairer process. In April of 1970, over 100 Burney-Harris students, including Michael Thurmond,
“We were leading the effort with the consolidation when we were 17, and Clarke Central exists because we wanted to make a difference.” —Michael Thurmond 26 | Cedar BluePrints | CedarBlueprints.com
protested in the streets of Athens. Some violence and vandalism resulted on both high school campuses, and Superior Court Judge James Barrow issued an injunction against Thurmond and 12 others, ordering them to attend court. This was Thurmond’s first appearance in court, though he would later serve as an attorney. Ultimately the protest efforts were successful. Burney-Harris High School’s identity was integrated into Athens High School just as the students were. Burney-Harris High’s The Highlight newspaper and Athens High’s Thumbtack Tribune combined to become the Highlights of the Thumbtack Tribune. The Trojans and the Yellow Jackets became the Gladiators. Burney-Harris High’s blue and gold and Athens High’s red and white became Clarke Central High’s gold and red. Thurmond and his classmates’ protests led to Clarke Central High School’s creation. “We were leading the effort with the consolidation when we were 17, and Clarke Central exists because we wanted to make a difference,” Thurmond said. “These changes began the transformation to a widely diverse school system. One of the reasons we ended segregation was so that not just my generation, but more importantly the generations that came after me,
“So we evolve - not necessarily because we volunteer to do it. We evolve because we don’t have any choice but to do it." somewould times you have the —Michael Thurmond opportunity to develop relationships, friendships and partnerships with people, irrespective of race, color, creed or gender. And it has been encouraging to see that process continue.”
Thurmond’s attendance at the desegregated Clarke Central helped him build skills he would use throughout his social life, education and political career. “I had grown up in a segregated society. It was a life-changing moment, because it opened up these new experiences and new relationships. It was a historic moment, but it was also a watershed moment for me as a person,” Thurmond said.
have to correct your course. We set these goals for ourselves, but sometimes you change your mind. And you shouldn’t be afraid of doing that,” Thurmond said.
Michael went to law school at the University of South Carolina and obtained a Juris Doctor degree. Although he did not pursue ministry as he anticipated, he believes his work now has a similar impact. “I believe I’m still serving. I’m not a minister, but it is a ministry because you’re serving people, and you’re trying to lead and help them,” Thurmond said. Later he attended Harvard to complete a political executives degree.
After graduating from Clarke Central in 1971, Thurmond attended Paine College. He graduated cum laude in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religion.
During Thurmond’s time at the University of South Carolina he published his first book, “A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History.” Thurmond was first inspired to write it in his high school African-American History class.
“My goal was to be a minister, so that’s why I have a degree in philosophy. But
“My teacher was Miss Elizabeth King. One day she said, ‘Michael, if you want
a textbook, why don’t you go and write one?’ And I always said that was the moment when the idea to actually write the African-American history of Athens was born, in a classroom during my senior year,” Thurmond said. After completing his degree at Harvard, Thurmond returned to Athens as a lawyer. Then in 1982, he ran against incumbent Hugh Logan to represent District 67 in the Georgia House of Representatives. After losing by 200 votes, Thurmond argued that there were voting irregularities, but he did not take legal action. He ran a second time against Logan in 1984 and lost again. This time he filed a lawsuit claiming there were no polling places or community registration centers in black communities. Thurmond did not want to change the results of the 1984 election; rather he was fighting for fair elections. “One position I took was I don’t necessarily want to change this election. I want to make sure that future elections were conducted in a fair and impartial way. Some major changes occurred after that, and as it turned out I won the next time,” Thurmond said. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1986, and represented District 67 until 1992.
MAKING CONNECTIONS: Thurmond speaks at an Athens Rotary Club meeting on Dec. 4 2019. The Athens Rotary Club invited Thurmond and another student to attend a meeting in 1971, the spring of their senior year. “What a profound moment in time that was for me because it was the first time I’d had the opportunity to speak to white adults. I met some people who played a key role in my ultimate success as an adult,” Thurmond said. Photo by Jackie Wright.
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Thurmond’s effort to reach across party and racial lines propelled his win. At first, he was hesitant to build relationships with white voters, he said. Because District 67 was a majority white district, a win would have been near impossible without white voters. “I was trying to get elected just with the people I was most comfortable and familiar with which were African-Americans, and I couldn’t do it,” Thurmond said. “So we evolve - not necessarily because we volunteer to do it. We evolve because we don’t have any choice but to do it. I had to choose whether or not I wanted to be successful as an elected official or remain captive to my own fears and inhibitions.” The combination of a fairer election and Thurmond’s stronger campaign resulted in the first African-American representative to represent a majority white district since Reconstruction. Thurmond was also Clarke County’s first black state representative since Reconstruction. Mikaya Thurmond, Michael and his wife Zola’s daughter, grew up while her father was involved in politics. Today she works in Raleigh, North Carolina as a reporter and a weekend morning anchor for WRAL-TV. In 2008 Mikaya
graduated from the University of Georgia with a journalism degree and in 2018 she earned a master’s degree in journalism at Harvard University. Michael says his involvement in politics influenced Mikaya’s interest in journalism.
deficit and was threatened by the potential loss of accreditation. While Thurmond was superintendent, the county’s graduation rate rose from 57-percent to 62-percent, and the deficit turned into an $80 million surplus.
“She told me ‘Dad, while the cameras were focused on us, I was watching the people behind the camera.’ And so very early along, when she was seven, eight years old, she had a radio show and she enjoys writing,” Michael said.
Now Thurmond is the CEO of Dekalb County. Having experienced integration and enjoying its advantages, Thurmond is encouraged by the diversity he sees in schools now.
Thurmond’s career in politics and government has focused on improving lives through many of the same issues that Thurmond saw in his early life. While in office Michael worked to lower taxes for seniors and working families, saving over $250 million. In 1994 Governor Zell Miller appointed Michael to be the head of Georgia’s Division of Family and Children’s services. There he built the Work First Program through which nearly 100,000 families transitioned from welfare dependence to full-time jobs. From 2013 to 2015, Thurmond served as the superintendent of Dekalb County School District. When he took the role the district had a $14 million dollar
“[In Dekalb County] we have Clarkston High School, it’s one of the most diverse high schools in the world because kids from all over the world go to Clarkston. Christian, Jew, Muslim, true believers. And what I’ve learned is that kids are kids, you know, we have very similar hopes and dreams, and we’re all just as silly,” Thurmond said. While Thurmond is heartened by the diversity in many schools, he remains wary of becoming too comfortable. He hopes that the Athens community will continue to evolve. “I would hope that Athens would continue to be more sensitive to the large percentage of people living below the poverty line. Athens is a very tolerant community made up of well educated upper income neighborhoods, but we can’t overlook the fact that there’s still thousands of Athenians who live in poverty, who do not have safe housing, and sometimes go without food. It’s such a beautiful place-- to live and work and play, but there are people who still live in the shadows,” Thurmond said.
MAKING HISTORY TOGETHER: As Thurmond and his classmates played, learned, and grew together, they were laying the foundation for the Clarke County school district of today. “It was special. We made history, and it changed all of our lives. We know that we were children called to do a unique and special work to change the course of history in Clarke County,” Thurmond said.
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THE NEELY DYNASTY By Nikkia Bell
SUCCESSFUL ROOTS: The Neely Family members are all successful in their own ways. Many have attended HBCUs. “My grandmother really helped a lot to pave the way for the community and I know I can’t do what she did but I’m just trying to do a little bit of what she did and start where she left off,” said Taylor Pass. Photo by Nikkia Bell.
rowing up, Evelyn Corene Neely was a part of one of the first integrated classes at Hilsman Middle School. Later with her own children in the Clarke County School District in the 1960s, she noticed the gaps in opportunities for all students. She felt that she needed to make a difference.
Evelyn’s youngest daughter, El Wanda Neely-Pass, is proud of her family and says her own childrens’ achievements make her feel a sense of accomplishment.
“She got involved with the superintendent of schools trying to make sure that we had the same opportunities for the African-American students,” said Sheila Neely-Norman, Evelyn’s daughter.
A stay-at-home mom who was involved with the education of all children, Evelyn’s activism started in parent-teacher organizations. She was also a role model at East Friendship Baptist Church and worked at Childs Street Action Daycare before founding her own daycare.
In 2013, Evelyn Neely passed away. Services were held for her at East Friendship Baptist Church, and her legacy continues on through her family. Because of her community involvement, some people still refer to Evelyn as the unofficial Mayor of Athens. In 1980, Evelyn Neely became the first black woman to serve on the board of education in Clarke County, staying active in the community for decades. Evelyn even has a street named after her in Athens: Evelyn C. Neely Drive, located off North Avenue. “You can sit back and talk, but it’s not until you start getting out there and making changes. She was one to make changes,” Neely-Norman said.
“My mom always wanted the best for her kids, not just her kids but all kids,” El Wanda said.
Neely’s Early Years Of Learning on East Broad Street opened in 1973. Friends in the neighborhood and around the community helped her get the daycare established. After Evelyn passed away, her oldest daughter Diane directed the daycare. Later on El Wanda Neely-Pass took over that role before Neely’s Early Years Of Learning dissolved in 1996. Evelyn was also an advocate for growth throughout the community. She traveled to Washington D.C, along with Miriam Moore, Jessie Barnett, Virginia Walker, and Dr. Walter Denero to secure federal
funding for community health centers, more daycares and funds to build the Broad Street bridge at the intersection of West Broad Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway. Evelyn also fought for community recreation centers built near Baker Street to provide wholesome recreational activities for nearby kids. Both the East Athens Community Center and Park and Thomas N. Lay Park were established with Evelyn’s help. Being politically active in the 1960s meant that Evelyn was possibly in danger. Some of the the changes she worked toward irritated the local establishment as the civil rights era unfolded nationwide. When Evelyn attended political events her husband, Charlie G. Neely, Jr., stayed with their kids at home. “I used to worry about her and what was going to happen because that was the time where integration was really bad and they would have civil rights meetings at church. She would carry me to the meetings at an early age. As I got older I started seeing what differences were being made,” Sheila said. Charlie Neely served in the military, went to school and went into accounting and
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“When I would get in trouble at the daycare center on East Broad Street my mama would call my grandma to come pick me up, She’d always take me to her house and get me coffee and all types of sweets,” Pass said. “We’d go to the grocery store. Every grocery store, not just one. We’d go to Food Lion and get some greens then go to Barlow and get some meat. Then we’d go to Bell’s on the East side and then get on the bypass and go to Bell’s on the West side and then come back to the house.” Evelyn’s influence was strong enough to persuade her grandson to attend military college, even with other options.
QUALITY RATED: Sheila Neely-Norman stands outside of Rocksprings Daycare Center. The daycare is located a block away from Clarke Central High School. “We’ve managed to keep the doors open (daycare) and I think we’re doing pretty good,” said Neely-Norman. Photo by Nikkia Bell.
bookkeeping. A bookkeeper for Shiloh Baptist Church, he was a hard worker and wanted the best for his kids. People in the neighborhood knew they could depend on Charlie when they had car issues, and it was Charlie’s sharp looking 1944 Ford with white wall tires that initially attracted Evelyn’s eye after they met through mutual friends. Throughout the 1950s, Evelyn helped neighbors find better jobs and living situations, working alongside other local figures including Moore, Barnett, Walker, and Dr. Denero. The group also supported aids who helped people finish college to become teachers. Their advocacy led to the development of city buses, neighborhood health centers and new infrastructure in Athens. A community center was later built because of them: the Miriam Moore Community Service Center located on McKinley Drive. Evelyn Neely’s grandson Taylor Pass played football at Cedar Shoals High School, graduating in 2008, and he now works at the clinic that Neely founded. El Wanda, Taylor’s mom, says that Taylor reminds her of her dad. “My dad was a hard worker, he wanted the best for his kids,” said El Wanda. Pass has carried on his family’s legacy by running for an Athens-Clarke County Commission seat (District 2), losing the
race by only 13 votes. Pass appreciates his experience in the race. “When I first started I didn’t really know a lot about politics. My main reason for running was to be a positive influence for the younger generation. You don’t have to be famous to succeed,” Pass said.
“When I first started I didn’t really know a lot about politics. My main reason for running was to be a positive influence for the younger generation. You don’t have to be famous to succeed.” — Taylor Pass Taylor’s campaign was another family affair. His cousin Dr. Cshanyse Allen was his campaign manager. Dr. Allen teaches a nursing assistant and phlebotomy course at the Athens Community Career Academy. Taylor’s sister, Kisha Bailey, was Timothy Road Elementary’s teacher of the year last year, and she served as his campaign secretary. Throughout Taylor’s early contributions, his grandmother motivated him to stay active in the community. Food was the way to his heart.
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“I had other football offers, but not from places I really wanted to go. When I got offered to go to Georgia Military College, I went down to visit. My grandma basically told me ‘I think this is where you need to be,’” Pass said. After attending George Military College and Morgan College where he graduated with a degree in sociology, Pass began volunteering at Cedar Shoals High School as an assistant football coach, training some of the players in the offseason. They woke up around 5:30 a.m. to work out — the same schedule Pass followed at GMC. “In high school it’s unheard of for kids to get up that early, but seeing that motivated me. Most of them are in college now, so I think we both served each other a good purpose,” Pass said. The same influence that his grandmother Evelyn had on Taylor gets passed on through his work. “I see so many of my friends doing the same things they did in high school. Some of them are getting worse, some of them better. I just don’t want to see these kids do the same things. I try to lead them in the right direction,” Pass said. Evelyn Neely-Norman was dedicated to making sure that all children had equal opportunities and schooling. She achieved this goal by developing and securing resources and services for her community to enjoy. The impact that she had on the Athens community continues to live on throughout her family. “Martin Luther King had a dream, and I’d say my grandma had a dream,” Pass said.
: Art by Megan Wise
By Chloe Howard
ot many people can say that they have lived on two different continents by the time they are 15-years old. Junior Oluwasumisola Odeyemi went from Nigeria to South Africa to the United States all before she hit age nine. Born in the tribe Yoruba in IIe-ife, Osun state, Nigeria, Sue, as her friends call her, moved to South Africa when she was one-year old, and her seven year experience in South Africa would affect her for the rest of her life.
of xenophobia in South Africa toward Nigerians.
Sue’s parents Ebunoluwa Odeyemi and Alfred Odeyemi were born and raised in Nigeria, living there in Secunda for 30 years. “It’s a tropical, evergreen rainforest region. The environment is cool. We don’t have winters. The only seasons are wet and dry, since obviously we lived near the equator. Nigerians accept anyone. They are friendly people; they didn’t fear foreigners,” Mrs. Odeyemi said.
“People treated me differently. They spoke to me differently, even the teachers treated me differently because I came from Nigeria. My mother was a teacher, and students would torment her because she was Nigerian. And then with my dad, he also got a few comments as well. It does get to us sometimes because we were foreigners,” Sue said. Her mother explains this phenomenon by noting how South Africans may not be as accustomed to foreigners yet.
Sue Odeyemi recalls a strong sense
“South Africa is a relatively young democracy and they are just getting used to having non-South Africans living in their midst,” Mrs. Odeyemi said. As a child, Sue remembers an incident where she was physically assaulted on school grounds. When she was in grade 2, there were specific fields assigned for school children to congregate based on age. As a younger student Sue was told not to go around the fields meant for upperclassmen. Sue did not understand the issue, just wanting to play with her free time. She went to the playing field and started rolling down a hill for fun. PICTURE PERFECT MOMENT: Sue and her mother pose for a selfie in the kitchen. They enjoy time together from shopping to late night talks. “She’s like another best friend. I tell her everything and she helps me when I need it the most,” Sue Odeyemi said. Photo courtesy of Odeyemi family.
“So I remembered, I was kind of hesitant (to continue to play). It was like five minutes before the bell rang. Then this white older guy came up behind me and just shoved me. And I just started rolling
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down the hill and my left arm hit a brick wall,” Sue said. Sue’s parents were not contacted at all, and she went through the entire day holding her broken arm in pain. Her parents realized what was going on when their daughter came home. “My dad was saying ‘Get the principal now, right now before I yell.’ He asked the office people, ‘how could you send my daughter home like this?’” Sue said. They gave an uncaring response and an apology that did not address the issue, but their reaction changed once Mr. Odeymi revealed that he is a doctor. “That told us something. If he did not have a superior job, then they would not care. He would not have gotten the respect that he did. It was cool when he told them off, I’m not going to lie, but at the same time it was terrifying,” Sue said. “We didn’t really feel good about the situation. We corrected their behaviors towards my daughter. We called the principal to order who also called the teacher to order,” Dr. Odeyemi said. Moving to a different continent was a big change for Sue as she began to experience new cultures. “I had never seen a Latino person until I came here. I’d also never seen an Asian person. I had only seen white and black,” Sue said.
RADIANT IN RED: Sue poses for a portrait wearing her favorite red sweater. Her friends say she looks like Christmas. “I wear red most of the time,” Sue said. Photo by Coriander McGreevy.
Though she found Americans to be kind, Sue still experienced insensitivity and immaturity from her peers, though that treatment has lessened with age.
Sue also feels more socially accepted now that she is finally a green card holder in the United States, but this process was emotional for the Odeyemi family.
“I did get treated differently. ‘Oh my God your name is so long,’ or saying “she has the Sue touch.’ Apparently people think I came from a third world country when it’s not. We have what America has. They made fun of my accent. I experienced this until 8th grade. I feel more accepted in Cedar,” Sue said.
“We just kept getting rejected. I remember this one time my father was just like, ‘okay, we’re all going to pray together.’ We all wanted to get a green card, so we prayed for it. Personally, the thing that kind of got me is Donald Trump and his policies. Now it is probably going to make it harder for anyone to get a green card,” Sue said.
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Dr. Odeyemi explained that their eventual approval was largely based on his wife’s work on her doctorate. “(Her work) was categorized under the United States National Interest. It was an intensive and detailed process. We are currently permanent residents of the United States of America. It was an emotional process,” Dr. Odeyemi said. The age difference in terms of grade levels and schooling makes Sue younger than most of her classmates. In South Africa, Sue began the equivalent of American preschool at 3-years old. “Before I came here I was almost done with fourth grade. When I moved here I was younger than everyone else,” Sue Odeyemi said.
PROUD OF HER PARENTS: Sue is close with both of her parents, seeking wisdom and companionship from them. “I’m close to both my mom and my dad. I have a great relationship with them. I feel like I can tell them anything,” Sue said. Photo courtesy of the Odeyemi family.
“People treated me differently. They spoke to me differently, even the teachers treated me differently because I came from Nigeria.” - Sue Odeyemi The separation of ages and the grade level process is different in South Africa, and different terms are used for grade levels. Students begin in grade RR (Pre-K), followed by grade R (kindergarten), then grades 1-7. These years make up primary school, and then students move to secondary school for grades 8-12. The study of language is much more intricate in South Africa than it is in the United States. Sue understands Yoruba and speaks it a little. However, after primarily being around English language speakers it is hard for her to practice speaking Yoruba. Her parents speak Yoruba, English and a bit of Zulu.
SAY CHEESE: Taken in South Africa on her little brother’s birthday, 3-year old Sue strikes a pose. She recalls a cheerful childhood. “That was my brother’s first birthday, my father used to tell me I was a photogenic baby,” Sue said. Photo courtesy of the Odeyemi family.
“We do have different language classes offered there [South Africa], but one class that we must take is a class called Afrikaans,” Sue said. Many of her peers ask her if she had English classes in South Africa.
“We did have English classes, but I already knew English,. My parents taught me. I’m bilingual because my parents speak Yoruba and English, but really I speak a little bit of Yoruba. I’m not fluent, but I understand Yoruba. My parents are trying to teach me more Yoruba so I can respond in the language, but sometimes I won’t remember what it is. My parents have to speak more English because my younger siblings do not know as much Yoruba as I do. They are trying to make sure that we know Yoruba,” Sue said. Aside from their influence in terms of language, Sue’s parents stress that her education is important for the future. Dr. Alfred Odeyemi found a job opportunity as a dentist in South Africa, and Mrs. Odeyemi was a teacher before pursuing her doctorate in housing and community development, planning to graduate this Spring. “My dad explained to me that I didn’t want to get to a point in my life where I have to sacrifice a lot, and I know that they sacrificed so much for us. I want to give back to them in the future,” Sue said.
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Linking the Latinx COMMUNITY IN ATHENS Graphic by Ava Maddox
By Stephany Gaona-Perez
s Georgia’s Latino community grows, they make up about 9-percent of Georgia’s population. With this growth, more services such as health care are needed for the Latino community. Lazos Hispanos — or Hispanic links in English — aims to enhance the health and well-being of the Latinx community in Athens by better connecting it to health, legal and transportation services. “I believe that when people are informed they are empowered. It can also lower stress when they have accurate information,” co-founder Dr. Maria Bermudez said.
“We need access to healthcare, food, transportation, and jobs. The challenge is that by virtue of the Latinx culture and language, they run into some barriers that are unique to them,” research coordinator Alejandra Calva said. Lazos Hispanos connects the Latinx community to resources with the help of “promotoras” (promoters) who help raise community awareness of the services they are eligible for and how to use them.
Lazos Hispanos was originally created through an interdisciplinary research seed grant that their team received through the University of Georgia’s Office of the Vice President of Research. The UGA School of Social Work has hosted the program since Nov. 2017.
“This program would not be as successful as it is without the promotoras. They really are the heart and the face of everything,” Calva said.
Lazos Hispanos conducted a needs assessment to document the barriers the Latino community faces when trying to reach out for services. They found that factors like language, discrimination, costs and a lack of information hinder the Latino community from accessing necessary services.
Promotoras ideally have strong connections with the community and show leadership skills. Some are even recommended by community members. Promotoras must be interviewed first to see if they possess the qualities necessary to help the Latinx community through Lazos Hispanos.
“When interviewing a potential promotora, I look for someone who is confident, trustworthy and can keep confidential information,” Calva said. Once selected, promotoras go through a three-day training where they learn about the commitment of being a promotora, how to do volunteer work and how to provide accurate information. After the training, promotoras must pass an exam created by UGA to see if they have fully learned the skills from training.
“This program “It was an intense training, but would not be as with everything I successful as it is without the promotoras. They really are the heart and the learned, I knew that I face of everything.” wanted to be a —Alejandra Calva part of Lazos His-
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panos,” said Esther Carrillo, Lazos Hispanos Promotora of two years. Promotoras continue to learn more skills through monthly trainings. They receive information on topics such as the rights of the immigrant community, nutrition and responding to a behavioral health crisis. At their January meeting, pro-
motoras and leaders discussed the 2020 Census and voting. “In a way, we are updating ourselves through monthly trainings. We have to be aware of new and changing information,” Carrillo said.
legal help or offices. They have partnered with Aspire Clinic, Georgia Legal Services Program, Project Safe and other agencies. By partnering with Lazos His-
“Lazos Hispanos has given us a lot of insight into looking at our patient experience through the lens of a person that is not a native English speaker,” said Kristi
The monthly meetings also serve as a “check-in” where promotoras share what they have accomplished in the past month. They also share any challenges they have faced in the community. Promotoras do not just work with the Latino community on health-related questions. They see a wide variety of different cases surrounding other problems. “It’s not only health issues. I’ve spoken to victims of domestic violence. I’ve helped many people with immigration issues. When a family member is taken away to a detention center, it often leaves the family devastated. Sometimes I have to help these families, especially the children, with finding therapy,” Carrillo said. “I’ve spoken to many people about food stamps and Medicaid. People have asked me questions about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. I enjoy the satisfaction that comes with knowing that helped someone renew it,” said promotora Jazmin Méndez. Lazos Hispanos also partners up with community-based collaborators. These agencies can be health care providers,
PLANNING AHEAD: Promotora Jazmin Méndez smiles as she attends a monthly meeting on Jan. 30. “We have the opportunity to show the people that not everything [the services] is just huge costs. There are medics and people who can help you for a reduced price, it helps people recognize the areas of support that Athens has. Many people don’t know about them due to their language,” said Méndez. Photo by Stephany Gaona-Perez.
panos they reach more people who access their services. Mercy Health Center has partnered with Lazos Hispanos for two years. Mercy is a faith based and nonprofit medical center that provides primary care, dental services, behavioral health services, and counseling.
Gilleland, Director of Whole Person Care at Mercy Health Center. In 2017, 17-percent of Mercy’s patient population were Spanish speakers. In 2018, that percentage increased to 21%. “I definitely attribute that to Lazos Hispanos’ efforts and sharing with the community about us as a resource,” said Gilleland. Mendez hopes to see more community-based collaborations in the future. “I want to see more providers partner with us. It’s super important to have people who speak Spanish at these providers so that the Latinx community can feel more confident,” Méndez said.
PUTTING IN THE WORK: As of October 2019, 163 participants have been enrolled with Lazos Hispanos. 262 referrals have been made. 58 percent have been to social services (legal aid, Medicaid, financial assistance). 48 percent have been to health care (primary care, dental, specialty healthcare). “The work that the promotoras do is really unique. They’re able to create really authentic connections between the community and service providers,” said Alejandra Calva. Graphic by Megan Wise.
Lazos Hispanos is the only organization of its kind in Georgia. Founding members hope to expand to neighboring counties and cities where the Latino Community is prevalent or growing. “I’ve spoken to people from Greensboro, Winder, and Nicholson. I want to be able to help them more, ” Carrilo said.
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DYNAMIC DUO: Irami Osei-Frimpong and Asynaka Lyon, executive producer of the Black Athenians, pose in Flanigan's studio after recording a new video. Lyon has opposed common criticism Osei-Frimpong receives. "I hear a lot of ‘he's angry,’ yet he's the least angry person I know," said Lyon. Photo by Brittany Lopez.
Irami Osei-Frimpong’s IMPACT
By Brittany Lopez
nside Flanigan’s Portrait Studio, located by the Triangle Plaza near Nellie B Avenue, patrons can appreciate local artwork representing black pride. One of those paintings was inspired by a moment in time. A few years ago, now District 2 Commissioner Mariah Parker was riding her bicycle when a car cut her off. A snapshot of
her flipping off the driver went viral when she ran for county commission. Artist Broderick Flaningan painted that infamous image now proudly displayed in the studio. There inside Flanigan’s studio, University of Georgia graduate student Irami Osei-Frimpong films his weekly YouTube show “The Black Athenians.” “I feel like (the location) is a pretty good snapshot of black Athens,” Osei-Frimpong said. He chose the location to record the show to empower black low-income communities.
“We need to accept that black Athens is broke and stop trying to pretend that we aren’t.” — Irami Osei-Frimpong 36 | Cedar BluePrints | CedarBlueprints.com
“We need to accept that black Athens is broke and stop trying to pretend
that we aren’t,” Osei-Frimpong said. Osei-Frimpong uploads “The Black Athenians” to his YouTube channel “The Funky Academic” every Friday to inform his audience about issues black communities are facing such as the racial achievement gap in the education system, gentrification, property rights, and police brutality. In one recent episode titled “Athens’ Urban Renewal (Negro Removal),” Osei-Frimpong led a discussion about gentrification caused by UGA. The discussion featured Geneva Johnson Blasingame, an elder in the Athens black community. Blasingame shared her story about growing up in Linnentown, a historically black neighborhood that was displaced by the Federal Urban Renewal Program. The neighborhood was located
discourse and the analysis that he provides through his social media presence and throughout the community. Active on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, Osei-Frimpong is also a prominent member of the Clarke County School District Town Hall Facebook group, another forum where his views find an audience. As a husband and father of three, Osei-Frimpong has strong family ties. His children currently attend a Clarke County public school, and he has spoken at school board meetings.
MAKING MUSIC: Osei-Frimpong attends a San Francisco Youth Orchestra retreat with five other friends. “I played with them when I was in college at Berkeley.” Photo courtesy of Irami Osel-Frimpong. along what is currently Baxter Street near the freshman dormitories. The Linentown community was displaced in order for UGA’s Brumby Hall, Creswell Hall, and Russell Hall dormitories to be built. Through eminent domain, the city sold the properties and removed the citizens. This action contributed to gaps within the social and economic growth of the black community in Athens. According to Blasingame, many of Linentown’s former residents moved to public housing
Osei-Frimpong started his college career at the University Of California-Berkeley unsure of his major. His inspiration for
after the displacement. Osei-Frimpong acknowledges the issue of affordable housing at work here, but he also sees a broader economic justice issue.
“I’m what you call a free negro, and free negroes will get pushed back from time to time.”’ — Irami Osei-Frimpong
“So the problem with gentrification in Athens is that housing is actually pretty affordable. But we don’t have jobs that pay black people. $9 to $10 an hour will never get to a down payment, and we’ll always be in public housing,” Osei-Frimpong said. Attempting to fill a void with his show’s production, Osei-Frimpong has been outspoken about how there is not enough black representation in the media to best inform black communities.
“There’s a structural barrier to doing real black politics because there is a media desert,” Osei-Frimpong said. SOPRANO RANGE: 7th grade Osei-Frimpong plays the oboe. “I started playing in the junior high school music program. “ Photo courtesy of Irami Osel-Frimpong.
“This is my legacy to my kids. I want them to understand what the big name of freedom looks like in the United States,” Osei-Frimpong said. “As a philosophy professor, I talk through and try to get ideas about the kind of material and cultural conditions of freedom.”
An academic background in philosophy influences Osei-Frimpong’s political
his career path was a subtle one. “The guy next to me in my dorm studied philosophy. I thought he was pretty cool so I kind of just studied what he did,” Osei-Frimpong said. His forthright opinions have caused media outrage and even caused him to go viral. Conservative news website Campus Reform profiled Osei-Frimpong as an extreme leftist, a label he does not necessarily shun. “I’m what you call a free negro, and free negroes will get pushed back from time to time,” Osei-Frimpong said. Last year, UGA investigated Osei-Frimpong for his comment on Facebook stating that “some white people may have to die for black communities to be made whole in this struggle to advance to freedom.” He was referring to individuals like
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Heather Heyer, a white woman who was run over by James Alex Fields after protesting a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Initially, the situation was brought to light when Andrew Lawrence, a UGA graduate and former Campus Reform correspondent, asked the public to withhold donations from the university as a protest against Osei-Frimpong’s presence. Osei-Frimpong was charged with two violations of UGA’s student code of conduct, failing to disclose being arrested at an Occupy Wall Street protest
INTEGRITY: Osei-Frimpong protests the influence of banking lobbyists at an Occupy protest in Chicago. “Political rights don’t mean anything we don’t have economic power,” said Osei-Frimpong. Photo courtesy of Osei-Frimpong.
in 2011 and not listing the University of Chicago in the list of colleges he attended. Osei-Frimpong was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing. Osei-Frimpong’s 8,900 subscribers on YouTube and 4,600 followers on Twitter demonstrate his support and reach, and he finds ways to engage directly with CCSD students, too. “I very much see Irami embracing the role of a gadfly,” said Mr. Jesse Evans, social studies department. This school year Osei-Frimpong was a guest speaker at Evans’ government class. Osei-Frimpong centered the lesson with questions like “What is freedom?” and “What are rights?” “He’s seeking to participate in the elevation of this community’s political education and political awareness,” Evans said. At the moment Osei-Frimpong is working on finishing his doctorate in philosophy where he anticipates to graduate in the Spring of 2021. He’s also working on using his platform to get other black voices to speak out against injustice. “A freedom of information which includes a distribution of ideas also means the production of ideas,” Osei-Frimpong said.
The Color of Money Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Baradaran (2017)
This book explores the persistence of the racial wealth gap by focusing on black banks as the wealth generators in black communities. The author analyzes obstacles the black community faced that created an economic gap. “The Color of Money is one fantastic book for anyone who thinks black people have money. It’s the most readable book for anyone who wants to catch a good sense of the fight,” Osei-Frimpong said.
Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics by Lester Spence (2015)
This books opens the discussion about how neoliberalism has affected black community politics. The author analyzes politics surrounding the black community, offering an in-depth understanding of problems. “I really like that book because it actually said something about political organizing and political mobilizing,” Osei-Frimpong said. Graphic by Alex Soto.
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A DIFFERENT STORY: A collection of curricular and extracurricular history and literature books represent different cultures in the classroom. “If you tell the story of your people you give someone something to look forward to and you help them realize where they’ve come from,” said Robert Chatmon. Photo by Jackie Wright.
By Megan Wise
lthough some cultural biases are less present in modern society, they still have not completely vanished.
“19 years ago I remember walking into the Walmart on the East side and not being able to find a black doll because I wanted my daughter to have a doll that looked like her,” said Mrs. Aisha Willis, Dean of students. In February during Black History Month, schools and teachers make extra efforts to focus on African-American history. But why isn’t that always a focus? “I assume that there weren’t many African Americans sitting at the table when the curriculum was being developed,” said Mrs. Renata Elder, social studies department. Carter G. Woodson created Black History Week in the early 1900s. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History sponsored the week in 1926. Woodson first intended to make it a week but it later expanded it into a month. A full century later, educators are still expanding the subject in schools and classrooms.
“Black history has been suppressed for so long in and outside of classrooms, and nobody has been able to or taken the action to change it,” sophomore Kori Edmonds said. Cedar Shoals teachers are reaching from many different angles to incorporate black history and culture in the school curriculum. Still, they recognize that they can continue to do more. “If you don’t have an Asian, an Indian, a
“I believe that black history has been suppressed for so long in and outside of classrooms and nobody has been able to or taken the action to change it.” — Kori Edmonds
Native-American, a black, an African, and European, you’re missing out,” said Mr. Robert Chatmon, social studies department. “And if you don’t have everybody in the room then you only hear one story and it’s the same story you are going to hear every time and that’s not fair.” Chatmon says that black history and culture should be implemented all year round along with considerations for all cultures. “Do you only stop at a red light in February? Do you only get a blood transfusion in February? No, you do those things year round,” Chatmon said. “I look at how decisions are made from different countries, different cultures, different viewpoints and then I implement that and ask the class ‘if we were in a different country, what do you think the outcome would be? What if we were a difference race — what would you think the outcome would be?’” American government teacher Mr. Jesse Evans says he always tries to weave in black history and culture.
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“When I teach students about diplomacy treaties, economic and military humanitarian aid and sanctions, I do that by using the example of Haiti,” said Evans. “I talk about how black people got to Haiti, we talk about how they were slaves that were brought over by French colonists and then they overthrew the French while slavery was still happening in the United States.” Research suggests that teachers around the country need to reflect more on finding creative ways to make their lessons and classrooms better reflect the diversity of the students inside them. According to an analysis by the National Museum of African American History and Culture titled ‘The Status of Black History in U.S. Schools and Society,’ on average, only one to two lessons, eight-to-nine-percent of total class time in a year, are devoted to black history. “I believe that it’s kind of like Christmas. If you give a child gifts all year round then they just feel like it’s a part of their lives. In a way
“Everyone needs to see themselves, everyone needs to read about themselves, everyone needs to hear or see a point of view of their culture.” — Aisha Willis it is the same way with culture and history. It should be something that happens all the time so that it becomes a part of our lives,” Willis said.
New York Times article, ‘Can Biology Class Reduce Racism’ that I sent to the biology teacher in the school. It goes into the ways that teachers can teach toward the elimination of racism in our society.” In a study at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, researchers found that after students were enrolled in an ethnic studies program at a high school with a high dropout rate, attendance rose by 21-percent and grade-point averages rose by 1.4 points. “Everyone needs to see themselves, everyone needs to read about themselves, everyone needs to hear or see a point of view of their culture,” Willis said.
Evans believes that teachers, himself included, should try to incorporate a broader focus on diverse cultures in their lessons.
“It (black history) inspires people. It shows them that they can achieve what at one point they were told that they couldn’t,” Chatmon said.
“We have a lot of power over how we teach. I think that every single class could always read more and more of black history and racial topics,” Evans said. “There was a
When Black History Month does come around, critics say that students tend to learn about the same few people and events like Martin Luther King Jr., Fredrick Douglas,
I KNOW YOU: A representation of the famous, well known black figures that inspire students to accomplish anything. (L-to-R) Ruby Bridges, Barack Obama, Jesse Owens, Sojourner Truth, Thurgood Marshall, Maya Angelou, Stevie Wonder, Fredrick Douglas, George Washington Carver, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Muhummad Ali, Jackie Robinson, and Harriet Tubman. “We talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. We say you matter but the way we show you that you matter is by showing you someone that looks like you,” said Mrs. Willis. Graphic by Tory Ratajczak.
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A DIFFERENT STORY: Mr. Chatmon facilitates a discussion during an AP Macroeconomics class. He believes that all classrooms can better welcome all cultures. “If you tell the story of your people you give someone something to look forward to and you help them realize where they’ve come from,” said Mr. Chatmon. Photo by Jackie Wright.
the Montgomery bus boycott and broadly about slavery. “The curriculum should dig deeper and not just scratch the surface of black history by occasionally mentioning Harriet Tubman or Sojourner Truth,” Edmonds said. Freshman Ikeoluwa Ojo believes that a deeper dive into black history should be applied in the classroom. “When we do learn about black people it is always the same few black people,” said Ojo. “Teachers mainly teach about black people as if they didn’t exist before slavery.” Willis finds ways to include different cultures in her British Literature class through supplemental readings. “We are reading “Frankenstein.” I will try and find a poem by an African American or African about being afraid,” Willis said. “Not only do I do that during Black History Month I do it throughout the whole year. I find Latino and Asian content also.” Within the social studies department, a broader focus on multiculturalism challenges traditional and typical lesson plans. “There needs to be a balance in the social studies curriculum. Not just focusing on one race, but inclusive of all students,” Elder said.
“When I am teaching I talk about different cultures because every person in this school comes from something different, so they need to be included in this as well,” Chatmon said. “From a culture standpoint you are dealing with different people everyday and you need to understand where they came
“From a culture standpoint you are dealing with different people everyday and you need to understand where they came from. You need to listen to their story.” — Robert Chatmon from. You need to listen to their story.” Willis agrees that students would benefit from a curriculum that is more inclusive, but she thinks the ultimate responsibility rests with teachers themselves. “It’s important for Clarke County to provide these opportunities, but if they aren’t providing these opportunities then it’s time for the teachers to stand up and make sure all
students are included,” Willis said. Amidst these ongoing efforts and conversations around curriculum, Black History Month still offers an opportunity to shine more light on specific topics, individuals and events. “During Black History Month I jump in and I try to help plan events,” said Evans. “I created a lesson for Black History Month (last year) for advisement. It included free screenings of ‘Black Panther.’ I used it as an incentive for students to participate in this lesson to see what we did in the community that involved the local government and community activism.” This February, Edmonds wants to see a greater representation and respect for black history among her peers. “People will post a quote that MLK or Rosa Parks once said and claim it as ‘celebrating black history month’ when in reality it should be so much more,” Edmonds said. “Black history should be more of a movement.” And inside Mr. Evans’ classroom? “Human history is black history,” Evans said.
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Two is Better Than One
TEAMING UP: Mr. Derricotte and Mr. Carter pose for a picture together outside of Cedar Shoals. “It’s been a pleasure working with Mr. Derricotte, I consider him a personal friend beyond work, I have a lot of trust in him, a lot of confidence with what he brings to the table,” said Carter. Photo by Coriander McGreevy.
By Ellie Crane
oth Aaron Carter and Antonio Derricotte were chosen to be the co-interim principals after previous Cedar Shoals principal Derrick Maxwell announced his resignation in late October. After months of adjusting to their new positions, Carter and Derricotte have implemented new policies to help students and teachers finish the 2019-2020 school year in a positive manner. In November, Carter and Derricotte had a few priorities in order to make the transition easier for students and staff. “We wanted to look at where we were in terms of what was going on already, and what Mr. Maxwell had put in place,” Derricotte said, “We wanted to reassure people that school was still going on, and we were going to try to move forward.” While the co-interims focused on the transition for students and staff, they also wanted to begin working on student behaviors and outcomes such as grades and attendance as soon as possible.
“The data actually shows that our average daily attendance is on the uptake for the past couple of weeks. Our tardies are actually down by about five-percent since the beginning of the school year,” Carter said. Even though school seems to be running smoothly, teachers and faculty still want to see continued improvement from the co-interims. “I always think a focus on culture, and togetherness, and relationship building and school spirit helps,” said Ariel Gordon, counseling department chair. Carter plans to implement Positive Behavior Intervention Systems (PBIS) in the upcoming months.
Graphic by Coriander McGreevy
“We’re really focusing on helping students become more disciplined as far as going to class on time, and being responsible for their attendance, their behavior and their grades,” Carter said. With the small but important changes that the co-interims have made, they have noticed significant progress in attendance.
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“It’s basically a school-wide incentive and reward program for students, to promote a positive culture and to try to get kids to do the right thing,” Carter said. Carter began working at Cedar Shoals as a paraprofessional in 2008. Derricotte returned to Cedar in the 2017-18 school year. Derricotte attended Cedar in the early 90s, graduating in 1995. “We were very diverse and a national school of excellence,” Derricotte said. “It’s been great to see how times have changed and the opportunities that are still here that a lot of people don’t even know
about.” After high school, Derricotte worked at Oglethorpe County High School for 16 years. He lived in Clarke County, but he never really intended to come back to Cedar. Multiple people told him that he should take the opportunity, and after a conversation with his family, he made the decision to return. “The first time somebody mentioned returning, I hadn’t really thought about it, so I started doing a little bit of research and finding more out about the school,” Derricotte said. Mr. Carter’s career path began with his first job at Cedar Shoals as a paraprofessional, and after five positions within Cedar in between, he was offered the co-interim principal title along with Derricotte. “I’ve always believed that my work ethic and what I bring to the table will speak for itself. It’s been an interesting journey, but I have enjoyed it,” Carter said.
Graphic by Coriander McGreevy
With their impending plans, they want to take time to focus on everyone within the Cedar community. “We’re going to continue to focus on supporting teachers in good instructions so that students are learning their best, and can perform their best,” Carter said. Graphic by Ava Maddox
“EDUCATION IS THE THING THAT WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE” -Aaron Carter
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: Mr. Carter walks around the Cedar Shoals halls, making conversation with familiar students. “My ability to build relationships, connect with the community, and do what’s best for students is hopefully why I was chosen for this job,” said Carter. Photo By Coriander McGreevy.
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MAYOR By Melany Mathis
ualities of a strong leader include open-mindedness, empathy, passion and humility. Cedar Shoals junior Tykerius (TK) Monford possesses all of these qualities, and the Athens-Clarke County Mayor’s Youth Commission elected him its first youth mayor at its first official meeting last August. Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz believes Monford has many qualities that serve him as youth mayor and future leader. “TK is clearly able to view questions from multiple perspectives, which is important in a good leader. Leaders have to be able to understand those people who come from different backgrounds, and TK is able to understand that. A principal told me recently that he can turn to TK to learn the implications of administrative decisions for students, which speaks highly of TK’s connections with both adult leaders and fellow students,” Mayor
Girtz said. “My favorite part is just being able to meet new people, whether that’s from students who go to Clarke Central, Athens Academy, or even just the people in the government,” Monford said. Monford was one of the founding members of the commission, along with Cedar Shoals senior Tristan Lankford and Clarke Central seniors Alexander Robinson, Everett Vereen, Katie Grace Upchurch, and Elena Gilbertson Hall. “I was in peer leadership and Mayor Girtz, before he got sworn into his role, came and spoke to our class. He was very passionate about starting something and trying to get the youth involved. Me and some students at Clarke Central thought it would be a really great opportunity for us to get involved in our community,” Monford said.
CONNECTIONS: Monford and Mayor Girtz shake hands inside City Hall. Members of the Mayor’s Youth Commission have met the fire chief, some of the police officers, Mayor Girtz, and some of the commissioners. “We work very closely with the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government,” said Monford.” Photo by Coriander McGreevy
According to Vereen, Monford made significant contributions from the start. “Despite being the youngest out of all the students on the planning team — he was a sophomore, we were all juniors — TK always knew exactly what he was talking about and exactly what he wanted out of the Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission. Having both the will to contribute to such a project and the maturity to work productively in official settings with people like Mayor Girtz is a big testament to anyone’s ability to be a leader,” Vereen said. Monford’s responsibilities as youth mayor are to help facilitate meetings, help set the agenda ahead of time, make sure everything is running smoothly, and make sure they’re following proper protocols. BREAKING BARRIERS: Monford looks on during a Mayor’s Youth Commission meeting on Jan. 13 at Memorial Park. Monford and the commission hope to accomplish a lot this year. “I see it as a great way for us to get more involved in what’s going on in Athens. I’ve lived here my whole life but there are still some things that are kind of weird or uncomfortable for me. This was a great way for me to break through some of those barriers,” Monford said. Photo by Coriander McGreevy.
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The commission is currently focusing on city beautification, making sure that
MONFORD Art by Ava Maddox resources are distributed equally between the East and West sides, and ensuring that youth have free environments to go where they can feel safe and have fun. For Monford, one of the most important things for Athens youth to consider is that you have to be patient when it comes to change.
and keep making sure that your ideas are being heard,” Monford said.
Athens has never had an African-American mayor, so the honor of the position means something special to Monford.
Aiming to run for office in the future, whether that be mayor or congressman, Monford wants to give back to his community.
“One of my biggest role models was a lady named Evelyn Neely. She was called the ‘Mayor of East Athens’. She
“I don’t want anyone to get discouraged if they feel like a change isn’t happening immediately. Changes are very hard to make happen fast, so just to be patient.” - TK Monford
“You know that people have lots of great ideas, but sometimes it’s hard to implement that. I don’t want anyone to get discouraged if they feel like a change isn’t happening immediately. Changes are very hard to make happen fast, so just to be patient. You have to trust the process. There are lots of steps they have to go through so just making sure that we’re staying patient,
“I very much want to run for office at some level. I really want to make sure I can give back to the community that I live in. And for me, I think that East Athens needs some kind of leadership to be more prevalent in the Athens-Clarke County community,” Monford said.
was an advocate for education especially on the east side of Athens. She’s a big inspiration to me, and I really do hope that one day Clarke County will have an African-American mayor, because to me, that seems like one of the next big steps in diversity and equity in Clarke County,” Monford said.
LEARNING NEW THINGS: Monford and Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz pose for a photo outside City Hall in Athens, Georgia. “This opportunity really provides me with a great understanding of how the government works, networking skills, and just provides me with lots of personal growth because these people are asking very tough questions and I’m having to really look into myself and be able to make sure that I can respond appropriately.” Photo by Coriander McGreevy.
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The Tea by Stephany Gaona-Perez
etflix is no stranger to true crime. In recent years, Netflix has released notable documentary series such as, “Making a Murder,” “I am a Killer” and “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.” Released in Dec. 2019, “Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer” takes a different angle on true crime. The three episode mini-series tells the
story of Luca Magnotta. However, the series does not begin with the murder Magnotta committed. It begins with a YouTube video displaying animal abuse. A Facebook group was created to help find the person who uploaded the video. A search involving many people including Deanna Thompson (aka Baudi Moovan) and John Green began to find this “cat killer” long before Magnotta murdered Chinese international student Lin Jun. What makes “Don’t F**k with Cats” different from other true crime is that it does not focus on the life of the killer. The documentary omits “key details” of Magnotta’s life that could have possibly shaped his actions, instead concentrating on the group of people who began investigating long before the
authorities did. This series also focuses on the victim and his family. Other true crime series briefly mention the victims. In “Don’t F**k with Cats,” Jun’s best friend was interviewed. Even scenes of his funeral are shown, shining light on the victim’s life. “Don’t F**k with Cats” shows a different point of view on murders. It shows the people who were suspicious and focuses more on the victim. Any true crime fan will enjoy this unique documentary.
Tea Scale: 3 out of 5 Lukewarm
QUANDO RONDO - Q PAC by Nikkia Bell
uando Rondo released “Q Pac” on Jan. 10, 2020, an album name that may turn a few heads as Quando compares himself to Tupac. One song is called “Poetic Justice,” the name of one of Tupac’s most popular films.
The new album features 18 songs including “Nothing Else Matters” — a catchy track that is all fun but still reflective. Quando’s chorus goes “House by the lake, my mother straight / ayy, nothing else matters / I never said that it was easy climbing the ladder / I came a long way from the corner / yeah, that’s actual factors,” describing how well he’s doing now. Quando discusses growing up in a neighborhood prone to crime and gang activity and spending time in juvenile detention. His story makes for interesting narratives, but the album lacks diversity. A few of the songs have boring beats, and several songs are too similar. Artists have signature styles and genres, but it’s important to find ways to be creative. “Bad Vibe” stands out with a dreamy beat and hype lyrics. The song features some familiar faces: 2 Chainz and A Boogie Wit da Hoodie. Tupac is a legend, and his lyrics are unforgettable. Quando Rondo may see himself being as influential as Tupac, but he has a way to go. Quando may speak about his hardships, but Tupac went beyond music.
Tea Scale: 3 out of 5 Lukewarm
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by Melanie Frick
he game of Clue comes to life in “Knives Out,” a murder mystery movie that came out in Nov. 2019. The film leaves the audience’s jaws hanging open by the end of the 2 hour-plus film. The story takes place at Harlan Thrombey’s mansion where his body was discovered one morning with his throat slit. Thrombey just turned 85, and investigators interview family members who were at the house party the night of his death. Some believe it was suicide and some vengeance, but everybody seems to have a motive. The film is shaped a bit differently than most murder mysteries. While all the last bits and pieces come together by the end, viewers watch the main character’s death fairly early, challenging viewers to solve the mystery. This charming and intriguing movie, which scored a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, an 8/10 on IMDB and an 82% on Metacritic, definitely deserves the hype it received.
Tea Scale: 4 out of 5 Sippable
Roddy Ricch-please excuse me for being antisocial
-year old rapper, singer, composer and record producer from Compton, California, Roddy Ricch debuted in 2017 with his first album “Feed tha Streets,” signing with Bird Vision Entertainment shortly thereafter. In Dec. 2019 Ricch released his first studio album, “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial.” This 16 song album quickly rose to the top 100 Billboard chart. The album has six features, including Gunna, a Boogie, Ty Dolla $ign, Meek Mill and others. On top of the features this album explores different beats, incorporating acoustics like violin, piano and guitar. Ricch also displays his vocal range, switching from rapping in a lower tone to singing higher pitches and effortlessly harmonizing with his feature artists. The album combines rap and R&B, and the lyrics are deeper than your typical rap album, giving listeners a glimpse of Ricch’s views and feelings. After the release of “Please Excuse Me,” Ricch’s popularity and fame quickly grew. “The Box” easily became Ricch’s most popular song, taking over TikTok and Instagram and reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and remaining on the list for nine weeks. Ricch has also charted eight other songs in the last three months. Ricch credits his inspirations to range from Young Thug to Meek Mill, but those influences are hard to pick up in his music. Ricch is his own rapper, taking pieces from a variety of influences and experiences to produce his own idiosyncratic sound. “Please Excuse Me” and Ricch himself deserve every bit of hype and praise. Ricch has already reached a pedestal that artists search for all of their lives. Ricch has only been in the game three years, but he clearly is not going away.
But they are in debt and are at risk of losing their company. The girls are offered financial assistance and collaboration from Claire Luna in exchange for half of their company.
Like A Boss by Emma McElhannon
ike a Boss” was a comedic attempt at an original empowering female comedy. It is about two best friends Mia (Tiffany Haddish) and Mel (Rose Byrne) who started a makeup company that they run online and out of a small shop in Atlanta Georgia, where they make their products.
While their financial problems are gone it puts a strain on their friendship. Claire Luna (Salma Hayek) the boss of her own makeup company, makes the girls turn on each other in an attempt to get Mel&Mia to herself. The best friends have to stick together to save their company. The girls were both raised by Mia’s mom and they have been best friends since childhood, so even in the attempt to break them apart, they pull through to make it work. While the intended purpose of the movie is good, the execution was subpar. The
Tea Scale: 5 out of 5 Too hot to drink
cast was amazing overall and the lead females both have been in “chick flicks” before and were successful. The cast was full of talent, but the script seemed forced. Many jokes throughout the movie seemed as if the writers were trying too hard to make edgy and sexual jokes that were unnecessary. The premises were cliche. It was about best friends who had to work together to fix what they messed up and save their friendship, a plot that is overused. Despite the talented and funny cast, the movie was a failure at an original empowering female comedy.
Tea Scale: 4 out of 5 Sippable
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