BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Fateful day remembered
Who’s the best?
The District 5 Community Council voted unanimously against the application for a special land use permit for a composting facility in Lithonia. A3
Barbara Cross was 13 years old when four of her friends were killed by a bomb at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Section B
Voting is under way in dozens of categories in the annual Best of East Metro Reader’s Choice. This year the ballot is only available online.
‘No’ vote on compost site
READERS CHOICE AWARDS www.crossroadsnews.com
EAST ATLANTA • DECATUR • STONE MOUNTAIN • LITHONIA • AVONDALE ESTATES • CLARKSTON • ELLENWOOD • PINE LAKE • REDAN • SCOTTDALE • TUCKER
Copyright © 2012 CrossRoadsNews, Inc.
February 18, 2012
Volume 17, Number 42
Stonecrest lands $100,000 LCI grant to study growth By Jennifer Ffrench Parker
The Stonecrest task force has to raise $30,000 in matching grants. DeKalb Commissioner Lee May said that it has strong commitments from the area’s businesses.
on Feb. 10, said a Stonecrest activity center will help improve the economic vitality of not only Stonecrest, but DeKalb County and the surrounding area. The Stonecrest Growth Initiative Task Force had applied for $150,000 to help plan out the area’s future. Its $100,000 award will fund a study focusing on creating strategies to improve the long-term economic viability of the Stonecrest region. Doreen Carter, the Stonecrest taskforce coordinator, said they are estatic about getting the grant. “We will create a plan that will be the
The Stonecrest area now has $100,000 to study a growth strategy for a live-workplay community anchored by the Mall at Stonecrest. The Stonecrest Activity Center, sponsored by DeKalb County government, was one of 10 groups awarded almost $800,000 in Livable Centers Initiative grants by the Atlanta Regional Commission. In DeKalb County, it was one of two groups receiving funding in this round of LCI grants. The other was the Stone Mountain CID Vision and Strategies, which received $80,000. The ARC, which announced the awards Please see LCI, page A6
Proposed law would block cell towers at schools Legislator wants to halt towers at nine DeKalb campuses By Jennifer Ffrench Parker
Parents fighting the erection of cell phone towers on nine DeKalb School System properties may get some help from state legislators. S t a te Re p. Ka r l a Drenner (D-86) told the DeKalb Delegation on Feb. 15 that she will file a bill this week that will outlaw constructing cell towers on school properties. Karla Drenner Drenner said she is introducing both state and local bills this week to halt the location of cell towers on school properties, which she says exposes vulnerable growing children to health risks. “Cell phone towers should not be placed on school property k-12,” she said. “Public schools should not be allowed to have cell phone towers.” The DeKalb School Board voted July 12, 2011, to allow T-Mobile to locate cell towers at six elementary schools, two high schools and a comprehensive school for up to 30 years. The schools are Flat Rock and Princeton elementary and MLK Jr. High in Lithonia; Briarlake and Narvie J. Harris elementary in Decatur; Smoke Rise Elementary in Stone Mountain; Jolly Elementary in Clarkston; and Lakeside High and Margaret Harris Comprehensive School in Atlanta. School Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson signed the up to 30-year lease with T-Mobile on Dec. 8. The school district has said that the first towers will be up by March. Over the life of the lease, T-Mobile will pay the school district just over $2.3 million in rent.
Opponents of DeKalb School System’s contract to allow T-Mobile to build cell phone towers at nine schools have found an ally in state Rep. Karla Drenner.
Drenner said she doesn’t believe the nine schools should be grandfathered. “Hopefully the bill will enjoin them to stop construction,” said Drenner, a five-term legislator who lives in Avondale Estates. Drenner chairs the House Environmental Health Committee and is an adjunct professor at Devry University, where she teaches Environmental Science, Principles of Ethics, and Leadership and Motivation. Since the School Board’s July vote, a growing number of parents, property owners, residents and children advocates have been calling for it to reverse its decision. Opponents of the cell towers say that the School Board did not give them time to voice
their opinions before it voted. They point to health risks to the students and to the effect of the towers on their property values. Joe Staley, who lives across the street from Margaret Harris Comprehensive School, said that not a single person in his neighborhood knew about the proposal or had any realistic opportunities to voice their opinion. “The bottom line is, I believe what you wanted was little resistance as possible and you were successful,” Staley told the board at its Dec. 5 meeting. Drenner, who has an undergraduate degree in radiation physics, said that the electronic magnetic field from cell phone towers is the issue for growing children.
“Kids are growing and therefore any potential assault, either magnetically or radio frequency-wise, can in fact create chromosome aberrations,” she said. “We need to do prudent avoidance. If it is anywhere near you, you want to avoid it. This whole notion of prudent avoidance should be exercised.” Drenner, who has two school-age children, says she knows that schools are struggling financially for money but that children have to be protected. David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators who attended the DeKalb Delegation meeting, said afterPlease see CELL TOWERS, page A5
February 18, 2012
“I am happy for them to vote on whether they wish to reduce the board from nine to seven.”
DeKalb Delegation seeks referendum on School Board reduction By Jennifer Ffrench Parker
DeKalb voters may yet get to vote on whether the DeKalb School Board will be reduced and by how many members. DeKalb House delegation members who have been gridlocked over new school districts reached a compromise Feb. 15 that could allow for a referendum and a size reduction in 2014 instead of this year. The delegation has been redrawing School Board and commission districts to account for population shifts from the 2010 Census and, for the School Board, a mandate from SB79, which passed last year, directing that the nine-member board be reduced to not more than seven districts. The DeKalb School District, which is the third largest in the state, has nearly 90,000 students and an operations budget of $775 million. The nine-member board is larger than Gwinnett County Schools’, which is the state’s largest school district. Last week, the delegation, which was facing a Feb. 15 deadline, could not agree on whether the School Board should go to five or seven members. At Wednesday’s meeting, Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, author of SB79, acknowledged that there are problems with the law, which did not provide for a referendum to remove elected officials from office and the interpretation of the size of the reduction in the School Board. She offered as a compromise, the opportunity to amend the legislation to give DeKalb citizens the chance to vote on whether the School Board should be reduced. She said Sen. Fran Millar offers a bill that suspends SB79, allows DeKalb residents to vote, and delays implementation of a smaller School Board for two years. Oliver said that Millar’s bill is contingent
Jennifer Ffrench Parker / CrossRoadsNews
Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (left) offers a comprise. Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield is at right.
on the DeKalb Delegation agreeing to a seven-member district and letting the two at-large districts go. “It offers a real opportunity for DeKalb citizens to vote,” Oliver said. “I agree with that by the way. I am happy for them to vote on whether they wish to reduce the board from nine to seven.” She said that having a referendum in November would ensure the best participation but that people in her district favor a July 31 vote and having seven districts on the November ballot. “It’s an option that is available to us,” she said. “It gives us a chance to clean up some things.” Senate Bill 79 passed the General Assembly as a general legislation with only three of the 19-member DeKalb Delegation supporting it. Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-88) pointed out that the problems have arisen because a statewide solution was being taken to a local situation. “I find it ironic that we are talking about a statewide solution to a local problem,” he
said. Mitchell said that only DeKalb residents will vote on the local issue but the General Assembly is making the decision for them and may come up with a solution they don’t like. “I am fundamentally opposed to this general bill approach,” he said. “It ought to be up to the local citizens so that they can hold folk responsible.” Rep. Pam Stephenson said that Senate Bill 79 was a general bill and has to be suspended as a general bill. She pointed out that the legal entanglement with it is that it requires the School Board to be seven members on Jan. 1, 2013. “The problem why you can’t implement it is because we have no referendum,” Stephenson said. “We can’t remove people [from office] without a referendum.” The terms of five of the DeKalb School Board members are up in 2014. Stephenson said that the problems with the Senate Bill 79 underscores the wisdom of legislators allowing people to vote before creating law.
“The people should always speak before this delegation acts,” Stephenson said. Delegation chairman Howard Mosby appointed a committee to investigate how to void or suspend SB79 and make it the work of the local delegation and not the General Assembly. He said that he understood last week’s problem with reaching an agreement. “The education of our children is one of the most important things that we as parents and we as a society do,” Mosby said. “We need to ensure that we are all being adults in this process and that we have no place for being unprofessional with one another. We are all passionate about this issue and hopefully the end result we will have something that can be great for DeKalb County.” The committee that includes Stephenson, Oliver and Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield will get the opinion of the General Assembly’s legislative counsel on how to proceed. Oliver pointed out that if the House of Representatives doesn’t pass a bill, the Senate will. She said she will research whether Senate Bill 79 could be pushed forward this year as a local bill that incorporates all the corrections. “It’s possible that we could correct 79 as a local bill if it is the wish of the House that we consider a compromise option that includes a referendum and delays the implementation of the results until 2014,” she said. “I could do the research to see if that could be a local bill.” While the bickering has been under way in the House delegation, Sen. Emanuel Jones has proposed a seven-member School Board map that has the support of a majority of the DeKalb Senate delegation. The House delegation has to consider it or a draw a map of its own.
February 18, 2012
“Why is this the only place that this can come. I just don’t believe that there is not one other place in Georgia where they can bring this facility.”
Community Council votes against composting facility permit By Jennifer Ffrench Parker
Greenco Environmental’s application for a special land use permit to operate a composting facility on the grounds of the 1,500-acre LaFarge Quarry in Lithonia got the thumbs down from the District 5 Community Council. The six members present at the meeting voted unanimously against the application, which goes next to DeKalb Planning Commission on March 6. That hearing takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the Maloof Auditorium. The DeKalb Board of Commissioners will hear the application on March 27 at 6:30 p.m. Greenco, a 4-year-old company that recycles food waste and yard trimmings into compost, is seeking to relocate from Barnesville, Ga., where it has had a checkered and contentious past. It plans to lease a 22-acre site that has been quarried and is now 110 feet below surface level and has a pond to help keep odors down. Company attorney Michele Battle said that unlike the Barnesville site that is 500 feet from the nearest house, the Lithonia site is more than a mile away from the nearest homes. She said the facility’s close proximity to homes and other start-up problems contributed to complaints about noxious odor in Barnesville but that the company has learned from its mistakes. Battle said that the Greenco facility is being confused with a landfill. “A landfill is burying waste and refuse,” she said. “It is just a big mound of trash.” She said Greenco is turning food waste into compost that is sold in gardening centers. The facility will operate 15 truck a day and employ 10 workers.
Jennifer Ffrench Parker / CrossRoadsNews
George Johnson, a council member, said he saw no problem with the process of making the compost. “The real concern for me is, is this the right location for it,” he said. “One thing that begs that question is the composting process. It’s a natural process but are you bringing in some extra that will offend. When you bring this next to neighborhoods, where is the assurance that you won’t be bringing offensive odors to the community.” Battle said that they are not looking to repeat their mistakes. “They are actually 100 to 150 feet below ground level. They are at a depth that is well below any homes and to the extent that there will be any smell, they will hit the people at the quarry first and will be capped at the ridge before it starts to dissipate out.” Community Council members listened to Battle and Greenco co-owner Melia Lesko and nine residents speak before voting unanimously against the application.
Gina Mangham (photo at left) asked who will monitor the composting facility. The District 5 Community Council (above) voted unanimously against Greenco’s application.
Dwayne Hartman, who lives three miles from the proposed LaFarge site. said that he is opposed to the plant. “We don’t need it. We don’t want it and we don’t support it,” he said. Hartman told the council members that he collected 376 signatures of residents opposed to the facility at Greenco’s Feb. 9 meeting at Rock Chapel Elementary School. Gina Mangham told them that the community just fought a biomass facility and already have four landfills. “Why is this the only place that this can come,” she said. “I just don’t believe that there is not one other place in Georgia where they can bring this facility.” She said the only track record for Greenco is the bad smell it has in Barnesville. “Who is going to monitor this company,” Mangham asked. “Who is going to make sure that we are protected.” Beth Bond, the only speaker who supported the facility, said that DeKalb can’t
claim to be the greenest county and turn down the composting plant. “It’s very disconcerting that we cannot establish the difference between composting and landfill,” she said. “This isn’t a dump that is going to Dwayne Hartman sit there forever. This is compost. This is a product that is going to be put into bags and taken out into the fields in Georgia to create better fruits and vegetables for you and me.” Hugh Brown, who lives within a two-mile radius of the site, said there are already nine permits for handling solid waste. “We have more than any county in Georgia,’ he said. Greenco is hosting a community meeting on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, 2152 Rock Chapel Road in Lithonia.
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February 18, 2012
Johnson, Gannon and Ellis continue to balance the “books” of DeKalb on the backs of our Police and Fire Departments.
Video games distract kids from important activity By Johnae Davis
As a student, I know that lots of children love playing video games. The issue is that children love playing un-educational games. Children can play video games all day if you allow them to. When children play video games, all of their education is not even thought of. They get addicted and all of their responsibilities fly out of their minds. That is why most children don’t finish their homework and end up not doing their chores. Then when they get their report cards, they start to feel bad and they don’t know why their grades are so
“I think children should have only 2-3 hours of playing video games because not only does it keep you from doing homework, but also it keeps you from getting any exercise.” Johnae Davis
bad. They should feel bad because instead of doing homework, they were playing video games. I have come up with a solution. We need educational games that are fun. We have educational games, but they are boring to most children. I think that if this doesn’t work, children should have a lim-
ited amount of time to play video games. I think children should have only 2-3 hours of playing video games because not only does it keep you from doing homework, but also it keeps you from getting any exercise. Like first lady Michelle Obama
says, you should get 60 minutes of exercise each day. You need to keep your mind healthy and your body healthy. When you do that, you can get a good career and you can live a long healthy life. It will be easier to reach your goals with good grades. In conclusion, video games distract children from doing the important things. I think that parents should pay attention to how much video games their children play each day. I think parents should encourage their children to do more educational things. Johnae Davis is 9 years old. She is a fourth-grader at Marbut Elementary School.
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Editors Note: Our story on St. Rep. Billy DeKalb, because we don’t raise a fuss like North All elected officials have stood by while Mitchell’s bill to form a city of DeKalb drew a lot and South DeKalb do, we are consistently ig- DeKalb has slid into the toilet! The longer they of comments this week on www.crossroadsnews. nored by the CEO and the DeKalb Delegation. been in office the bigger a slug they are in the com. Garden Once Known As DeKalb? Billy, here’s a dollar. Now go buy a clue. Here are some of them. Bunch of Carpetbaggers? – Name One – Juan Who Cares Worst idea in a long time Doesn’t address real issue This is the worst idea I’ve heard in a long Forming a City of DeKalb will not address Forgotten number one duty time. The county currently doesn’t provide ad- the real reason why the County continues to lose DeKalb Firefighters at Risk While Larry equate services to its residents, hence the recent ground to newly-formed cities. That reason is Johnson and Burrell Ellis live lifestyles of the push for cityhood and annexation...so making clear- the taxpayers in those areas want better rich and famous on our dime, free lunches n Dekalb a “city” somehow will change that?? I services, and feels that the County has done Fancy Trips? don’t think so. The only thing that will result them disservice. So-- address the real problem. So Kathie Gannon and the BOC along with from this is higher taxes, not better services. Make County services better. Inspire taxpayers Ellis slap the Citizens of DeKalb County with a Also, local services should be provided to want to be part of DeKalb, not defect. Or is 26 % INCREASE on t$axes, swipe 40 Million by LOCAL governments- not some massive improved management of County services not from Funds Intended for Parks and Greenspace behemoth of a city where residents are so far possible??? and we still can’t fund badly needed Oxygen apart they have virtually no relationship to each – Bryce Farbstein Tanks for the Fire Department. other and therefore have very little common Johnson, Gannon and Ellis continue to balinterests. ance the “books” of DeKalb on the backs of our DeKalb in the toilet – SquirtsMom So Mike Jacobs is for his new city but not Police and Fire Departments. New City of Dunfor Billy Mitchell’s new city? That’s mighty woody, soon Brookhaven or Ashford, whatever, Charter schools, too? it’s much about safety? strange. That will keep DeKalb from losing any more Johnson, Gannon, Barnes-Sutton and Ellis Tell me Billy Mitchell, do we still get to keep taxes to new cities. Rep. Mitchell, can we have the Illegal Gambling Poker Machines that blan- seem to have forgotten that their Number One charter schools in our new city? Duty is the Protection of DeKalb’s Citizens? ket your district? DeKalb County is not the largest county by Tell me Billy Mitchell do we still get to keep – Future City Resident all the sorry convenience stores selling all man- land area and we are not the largest county by population yet we have more EMPLOYEES than Central DeKalb ignored ner of dangerous CRAP to our youth? “I have unanimous support from all secBilly Mitchell why don’t you step up to the any other county and I have no Police Patrolling tions of our community that I have talked to,” plate on this crime which plagues East and my streets and Burrell Ellis has never returned the first of my EMails about crime in DeKalb, he said. South DeKalb? Billy, you obviously haven’t talked to many Benfield and Henson = WHAT ABSOLUTE nuthing but a pompus a$$ he is! people, especially in Central DeKalb. In Central PHONIES? – JerryMyer Jackson Jr
Proposed law would block cell towers at schools A1
Parents fighting the erection of cell phone towers at nine DeKalb Schools may get some help from state legislators.
DeKalb Delegation seeks referendum on School Board reduction A2 DeKalb voters may yet get to vote on whether the DeKalb School Board will be reduced and by how many members.
Council votes against composting facility
Greenco Environmental’s application for a special land use permit got the thumbs down from the District 5 Community Council.
DA lets off school board A5
Origins of observance
District Attorney Robert James says he will not assemble a special grand jury to investigate the school board.
For the past 36 years, February has been celebrated as Black History Month. It’s four weeks a year that focus on African-American culture, heritage and achievements.
Audit unearths DeKalb Schools bloat
DeKalb parents and taxpayers have been calling for a reduction of the large number of high-paying jobs at the DeKalb Schools central office and a recent audit agreed with them.
Regions Bank offering $5,000 scholarship
High school seniors can win a $5,000 college scholarship from Regions Bank. Regions will award 25 Riding Forward Scholarships based on a competitive essay.
Tuskegee Airmen in person, in film B2 Members of the Tuskegee Airmen will be at Hillcrest Church of Christ in person and on film on Feb. 24.
Documentary explores forced labor in South
“Slavery by Another Name,” a documentary that explores how forced-labor laws in the South served to perpetuate slavery long after the Civil War had ended, will be aired on WPBA Channel 30 in Atlanta.
index to advertisers
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Community Champion family sues bus company The parents of Robert Champion, the late Florida A&M drum major who died after a hazing ritual in November, filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Feb. 13 against the owner and driver of the charter bus on which Champion was attacked. Ro b e r t a n d Pa m Champion, who live in Decatur, are seeking in excess of $15,000 in Robert Champion damages. There son was a graduate of Southwest DeKalb High School, where he was also in the band. The lawsuit revealed new details about the hazing that 26-year-old Champion may have endured on the night he died on Nov. 19, 2011. It described two types of hazing. During the first, pledges of a band clique known as “Bus C” ran from the front to the back of the bus while other band members yelled, slapped, kicked and hit them, the lawsuit said. A pledge who fell could be stomped and dragged to the front of the bus to run again. In another ritual known as “the hot seat,” a pillowcase was placed over the pledge’s nose and mouth while he or she was forced to answer questions. If a pledge got a right answer, the pillowcase was removed briefly and then pulled back down over the pledge’s head as another question is asked. If a pledge answers the question wrong, the pillowcase stayed over the pledge’s head and was given another question without a chance to take a breath, the lawsuit said. During this time, the pledge is punched, slapped, kicked and hit. A fellow pledge, known as John Doe I in the lawsuit, who was hazed with Champion said band members on the bus treated Champion more brutally than others during the “Hot Seat” ritual. John Doe I tried to help Champion but was “immediately struck back down into the seat and pinned down.” The lawsuit claims that Fabulous Coach Lines’ managers knew that band members conducted hazing rituals on buses after football games but did nothing to stop them.
February 18, 2012
“I believe that these are things the school system can take care of themselves as long as someone is watching...”
DA lets off school board
they are making the appropriate DeKalb District Attorney Robprogress,” James said. ert James says he will not assemble The DA said that he has had a special grand jury to investigate extensive conversations with both the school board after a DeKalb Walker and Bowen. Superior Court grand jury called The grand jury questioned the for a special investigation. use of public funds to endorse and After its November-December promote the last special purpose presentments, the grand jury reclocal option sales tax referendum. ommended a special grand jury James said he found no laws broken to look into five general concerns, Robert James including the School Board’s influence in with regard to spending of SPLOST money. School systems can provide information the hiring and personnel evaluation process, friends and family with questionable salaries, about the SPLOST, but cannot legally lobby and senior-level personnel employed in out- for or against it. “What we’ve done is to put in place some side work that could impact job performance safeguards that are transparent and open,” or lead to double-dipping on pay. At a Feb. 10 press conference with school Walker said. The grand jurors also criticized School board chairman Dr. Eugene Walker and former chairman Tom Bowen, James said that Board members for leaking information to there are issues that have merit, but that he the media regarding former superintendent he does not believe that they deserve a full- candidate front-runner Lillie Cox, who withdrew her name from consideration after blown special grand jury investigation “I believe that these are things the school contract negotiations stalled and details of system can take care of themselves as long her potential contract were made public. Walker said they are already working as someone is watching to make sure that
Sgt. Peeler gets recognition DeKalb Police Sgt. R.B. Peeler, the officer who saved 8-year-old Erin Ingram from two pit bulls who were attacking her in 2010, was honored for his heroism on Feb. 11 at the DeKalb Police Alliance Hearts for Heroes Gala. Solicitor-General Sherry Boston and R.B. Peeler Erin, whose left arm was amputated because of the attack, presented Peeler with a plaque to recognize his valor. Peeler beat the dogs with a metal baton to get them to release Erin before shooting and killing one of the dogs. The attack took place outside Erin’s Lithonia home. It was the first time he had discharged his weapon in 12 years on the force.
Risks to growing children at issue
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ward that safety risks of cell towers have to be offset by dead zones for cell phones. “A lot of the people who complaining are using their cell phones every day and don’t want to give them up,” Schutten said. “Those cell phone towers have to go somewhere.” He said opponents need to present the research that shows that cell towers are dangerous to children and offer alternative sites for the location of towers. Drenner said the issue is not the use of cell phones. “The issue is the placement of cell phone towers,” she said. “The exposure from your cell phone to your own [adult] body is completely different. We are talking about an area that is occupied eight hours a day by the most sensitive population – growing kids.” Drenner also is questioning how that kind of commercial activity can take place on public school property. “How can a school qualify for commercial activity,” she said, adding that she is asking for an official county position on that issue. Drenner said that she does not believe the School Board members really understood what they were doing when they voted to place towers at the nine schools. “You can’t fault people for not knowing what they don’t know,” she said.
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February 18, 2012
“This funding will help us devise long-range planning that is focused on bringing jobs back to this part of DeKalb County.”
Small business owners can ‘ride to sucess’ at free seminar A CPA and a business consultant will headline the Regions Bank’s Black History Month “Ride to Success” Business Seminar on Feb. 22 in Atlanta. The seminar is cosponsored by CrossRoadsNews and the Atlanta Voice, and participants will be Erica Bracey entered into a drawing to win two Ipod Shuffles and quarter page Ads donated by both newspaper companies. Erica Bracey, a Georgia State University business consultant, and Corey D. Moody, a partner in Decatur-based Bennett & Moody
CPA will lead the seminar which takes place from 9 a.m. to noon on the third floor in the Community Room at the Southside Medical Center, at 1046 Ridge Ave in Atlanta. Registration, continental breakfast and networking Corey Moody begins at 8:30 a.m. Bracey has an M.B.A. in marketing, and her professional background includes business management and marketing positions within retail, academia, e-commerce and banking. As an entrepreneur, she has ongo-
Audit unearths DeKalb Schools bloat DeKalb parents and taxpayers have been calling for a reduction of the large number of high-paying jobs at the DeKalb Schools central office and a recent audit agreed with them. An audit of all central office jobs, done by Virginia-based Management Advisory Group, shows that DeKalb has 1,499 employees – 336.5 more jobs than most school system its size. The group proposed that DeKalb reduce its central office staff to 1,162.5 jobs. The audit of top-level positions – including principals and assistant principals – was ordered by Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson as part of her 90-day plan, which ended on Jan. 24. In its report, which was released Jan. 18, the group said there is no clear responsibility outlined for secretaries, specialists, coordinator, managers for directors which makes classification of new positions problematic. The consultants recommended job definition and salary range leveling. At a Jan. 18 press conference, Atkinson said it would take at least 30 days to review the titles, redefine them and place them in a
proper hierarchy – work that must be done before major organizational changes. Atkinson said she’s not sure how closely she’ll follow the consultant’s proposal. “This is their recommendation,” she said. “We’ll take it now and massage it.” Before the report was released, Atkinson had already made changes at toplevel positions. Marcus Turk, who was the DeKalb Schools’ chief financial officer, and former purchasing manager Uladia Taylor were reassigned from the positions last month. Atkinson also replaced the chiefs of curriculum and instruction, school leadership and operational support, and chief information officer last September. The audit also says DeKalb has 15.5 central office positions per 1,000 students. The consultants recommend 12 positions per 1,000 students. The report compared DeKalb to other school districts. Fulton County has 18.5 central office positions per 1,000 students, 5.8 in Cobb and 6.1 in Gwinnett. The second report, due March 15, will assess the rest of the district’s 15,000 positions.
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ing experience in the areas of real estate, public relations, event planning and special events. She is a member of the National Black MBA Association, South Fulton County Chamber of Commerce, GMSDC and GSU Alumni Association. Moody, who is a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor, will present the “Improving Financial Accounting with QuickBooks,” seminar, and Bracey will lead the “Writing a Business Plan/Making Your Business Credit Worthy,” session. Moody understands the needs of small business owners. His entrepreneurial spirit was stoked early when as a young boy, he made and sold popcorn and cakes to his
$5,000 Regions scholarship available High school seniors can win a $5,000 college scholarship from Regions Bank. Regions will award 25 Riding Forward Scholarships based on a competitive essay contest. High School seniors must write about the contribution of an African American hero, past or present, who created opportunities for future generations. The top 25 entries will be awarded a $5,000 college scholarship. The Regions Riding Forward Scholarship is part of a larger Regions Bank aware-
blueprint for the area’s growth,” she said. “And it will be the impetus to apply for other government funding to improve the area. That’s the real beauty of it.” DeKalb Commissioner Lee May said that getting stakeholders together made the difference in securing the grant this time. The 2012 LCI application was Stonecrest’s third. It also made applications in 2003 and 2009. “You have to show that there is participation from businesses, land owners and residents,” he said. “The Stonecrest business alliance stepping forward was key to getting this award.” The Stonecrest task force has to raise $30,000 in matching grants. May said that it has strong commitments from the area’s businesses and he is confident that the task force will have the funds. May said the county’s Planning Department will start the process of hiring a consultant to facilitate the study in the next couple of weeks. The Stone Mountain CID study will assist it in developing policies to accommodate
Salem Panola Library
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ness campaign to celebrate Black History Month. Advertisements feature youth of today being supported on a tandem bicycle by great African American heroes. The Riding Forward campaign will run through the end of February. Applications for the Regions Riding Forward Scholarship will be accepted until Feb. 29. Scholarship awards will be announced in April. For more information, visit www.regions. com/ridingforward.
Stone Mountain CID gets grant
E. Noreen Banks-Ware
friends. He has operated mail and shipping stores and is also a realtor. He and his partner Jack Bennett also have an office in Las Vegas. The Ride to Success will also cover how businesses can leave a legacy and protect their assets through many of the financial vehicles available through Regions Bank. Living trusts, annuities, savings, 401(k)s and other affordable asset protection and investment options to create multigenerational wealth will be discussed. The seminar is free to attend, but space is limited. To RSVP by noon Feb. 21, email ridetosuccess@crossroadsnews or call Jami at 404-284-1888.
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For Advertising Rates or Information, Call 404-284-1888
emerging industry sectors and to redevelop a strong industrial and freight presence in the area. It will study transportation improvements and development strategies to attract a stronger freight and logistics presence as well as emerging industries. Emory Morsberger, the CID’s president, said they are extremely pleased to receive this substantial ARC grant. “This funding will help us devise longrange planning that is focused on bringing jobs back to this part of DeKalb County,” he said. “We will continue to update our community and keep everyone tied in to our goal of creating 2,000 new jobs right here by the end of 2013.” ARC Chairman Tad Leithead said the LCI grants have helped to make many urban areas more attractive. “LCI has helped communities across metro Atlanta retool and redesign over the years, creating more places that attract residents and businesses alike,” he said. Since its launch 13 years ago, the LCI has awarded 127 communities more than $153 million to help revitalized activityand town centers through improved pedestrian, road and transit options.
February 18, 2012
RIDE TO SUCCESS A Complimentary Seminar to Bring Your Business More Financial Control
To help business owners gain more control and balance over their companies’ finances, Regions Bank, The Atlanta Voice and CrossRoadsNews are presenting Ride to Success. This complimentary seminar will provide information on a variety of topics to help you achieve more financial control than ever before, including:
• Developing a Business Plan
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• Improving Financial Accounting Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. Southside Medical Center 1046 Ridge Avenue SW Atlanta, GA 30315
RSVP Today: 404-284-1888 or via RSVP@theatlantavoice.com
© 2012 Regions Bank. The information provided at this seminar is that of each individual speaker and not those of Regions, and should not be interpreted as accounting, legal or other professional advice. Please consult your own advisor for professional advice.
February 18, 2012
“We wanted to eliminate barriers that prevented some residents from attending these events.”
Solicitor-General lauded for work with teen dating violence Proclamations are pouring in for DeKalb Solicitor-General Sherry Boston and her office’s Special Victims Unit for their efforts to bring attention to and to serve victims of domestic violence, particularly victims of teen dating violence. Since Feb. 9, DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, the DeKalb Board of Commissioners and DeKalb mayors and city councils including the Clarkston, Sherry Boston Dunwoody , Lithonia and Stone Mountain City Councils, and the Decatur City Commission,have recognized Boston in honor of February which is observed as National Teen Dating Violence Prevention & Awareness Month. Studies show that females ages 16-24 are most likely to be abused in a dating relation-
A woman signs a pledge to have healthy relationshipa at the DeKalb SolicitorGeneral’s booth at the 2012 Health & Wellness Expo at the Mall at Stonecrest in January.
ship, and that one in three young people will report experiencing some form of dating abuse in their lifetime. Abusive relationships affect adolescent development and teens who experience dating violence may suffer long-term negative behavioral and health consequences. Boston said she is seeing an increasing number of teens who are victims of assault and who have been harassed in social media. “It is so important for parents, faith and community leaders, and school officials to work together to teach our young people lessons of respect and equality in relationships,” Boston said. “I urge anyone who thinks they may be in danger from teen dating violence to call 9-1-1 or seek assistance from any number of advocacy organizations and visit websites such as www.loveisrespect.org to create a safety plan and obtain resources.”
Jennifer Ffrench Parker / CrossRoadsNews
Churchill Downs cutting ribbon Event to reconnect with outdoors Residents of Churchill Downs in Decatur will cut the ribbon on their new and improved clubhouse on Feb. 22. The community’s elderly residents and those with physical challenges now have a new drive way to get them to the clubhouse. The improvements were funded by a $5,000 grant from the Neighborhood Fund, an initiative of The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta that supports community groups in building relationships and developing leadership. Edwinett Murphy, president of the Churchill Downs Civic Association, said the clubhouse is located on a hill in the community located off Rainbow Drive. She said
it was not easily accessible to some of the senior members of the community or residents with physical challenges. “The clubhouse is utilized for the monthly community meetings as well as community activities,” Murphy said. “We wanted to eliminate barriers that prevented some residents from attending these events.” The Neighborhood Fund also funded a community coach to work with the association in program planning, enhancing volunteerism and community organizing. The ribbon cutting will begin at 5 p.m. at 3675 Citation Road. For more information, call Edwinett Murphy at 404-405-9863.
Urgent Care • Internal Medicine Kidney & Hypertension Center
Nature lovers and fitness buffs can learn more about a variety of recreational activities on Feb. 21 at the Outdoor Activity Center in Atlanta. Rue Mapp, founder of Outdoor Afro, will discuss “The Future of Partnerships to Support Diverse Outdoor Engagement” beginning at 7 p.m. Outdoor Afro is a community that reconnects African-Americans with natural spaces
and one another through recreational activities such as camping, hiking, biking, fishing, gardening and skiing, using social media to create interest and to partner with regional and national organizations that support diverse participation in the great outdoors. The Outdoor Activity Center is at 1442 Richland Road S.W. To R.S.V.P., e-mail info. email@example.com. For more information, call 404-752-5385
Seniors needed for Catch Healthy DeKalb residents ages 50 and up can volunteer for the Catch Healthy Habits Program and help make a difference in the life of a child. The program, which is sponsored by the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Agency on Aging offers seniors a fun way to make a difference in the life of a child and in their community, and improve their health at the same time. Through Catch Healthy Habits, adults can help children learn the benefits of healthy eating and physical activity. For one hour each week after school, participants will team up with children
grades K-5 to encourage healthier eating and fitness. Each class includes education about good nutrition, a healthy snack that is fun and delicious, and a half-hour of fitness activity. Catch Healthy participants will also learn more about nutrition and healthier food choices. Classes start in March at the 4th/5th Academy, 101 5th Avenue in Decatur, and at the Heards Ferry Elementary School, 1050 Heards Ferry Road NW in Atlanta. For more information, contact Mary Newton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-463-4554.
January served up record warmth • • • • • • • • • • • •
Lab & Diagnostic Tests Annual Physicals Auto Accidents Cuts, Bruises and Lacerations Diabetes Mellitus DOT Physicals Geriatric Care High Blood Pressure Early Cancer Detection Heart Disease Prevention Kidney Diseases and Prevention Kidney transplantation referrals and post transplantation follow up
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If you thought last month was warmer than usual, you were right. January 2012 was the fourth-warmest January on record for the contiguous United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the average temperature for January was 36.3 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 5.5 degrees above normal range. This makes the month not only the fourth warmest of its kind in history, but also the warmest since 2006. Michael Pigott, AccuWeather.com’s senior meteorologist, said that it has been
warmer this year mainly because of the jet stream pattern. “Generally, for the most part of the winter, it has been on a west-to-east pattern,” Pigott said in a Feb. 9 statement. “Meteorologists refer to this as a ‘zonal flow.’ Essentially, we’ve seen a lot of storms moving from west to east, and not a lot traveling northward or southward. “So anything in the Arctic is staying up there, and anything in the U.S. is staying put as well. If you have north-to-south undulations in the jet stream, you do get warmer air heading northward to the poles, and colder
‘It’s Time’ for healing, miracles, signs & wonders!!!!! It’s time to operate in the Power and Anointing of the Holy Spirit Join us for our next Prayer and Miracle Service, Saturday, Feb.25, at 9:00 a.m. in the Colonnade Room, 8010 Rockbridge Road, Lithonia, Ga. (in the DMV Shopping Center on Hwy. 124 and Rockbridge Road) For more information, call (678) 580-3310 or visit us at www.chimaindouglasministries.org. Hosted by: Chimain Douglas Ministries Invite a Friend, Relative, Co-Worker, your life will never be the same!!!
February 18, 2012
“They said they couldn’t attend prom because they couldn’t afford a dress. Once I heard that I thought about the dresses at my house.”
Plan seeks classroom victory Two makes All-American team continuous improvement for all of DeKalb Schools Superintendent our students,” she said. Dr. Cheryl Atkinson has created a The strategic plan includes five blueprint for improving schools guiding principles: and students’ success. Her “Excellence in Education n Students come first. 2017 Strategic Plan” was unveiled n Every school must believe that Feb. 13 and is posted on the school parents are our partners. district’s website. n Leadership and accountability at At a Feb. 13 school board meet- Cheryl Atkinson all levels are key to success. ing, Atkinson said the plan, which n We are not alone in this encomes in the wake of her meetings with deavor. students, parents, teachers, employees, and n Victory is in the classroom. community leaders during her first 90-day It also includes five strategic goal areas: period, focuses on the “core business,” of student achievement and success; excellence educating children. in leadership and personnel; operational She said the plan’s theme is “Victory in effectiveness; safe and orderly schools; and Every Classroom.” engaging stakeholders. “And it will take a focus, strategic, tactical To view the plan or to give feedback, plan to insure performance management and visit www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/
Prom Projects needs girls, dresses By Carla Parker
Prom season is a mere two months away and high school junior and senior girls who were planning to skip their prom because they can’t afford to buy a prom dress can change their plans. The Emerald Chapter 122 of the Smooth Ashlar Order of Eastern Star in Lithonia is giving away free prom dresses of all sizes, along with shoes and jewelry to at least 20 students who cannot afford them. The Chapter has collected dozens of new and gently-worn dress in size 4 to 3x and is holding a dress fitting on Feb. 25 in Downtown Decatur. Robyn Jones, the Worthy Matron of the fraternal organization, said they already have 60 dresses and are seeking more donations. She said girls who call now will be invited to select a dress at the Feb. 25 fitting. This is the first year the chapter is hosting the project but the idea of collecting and giving away dresses came to Jones four years ago after a conversation with some teen girls in a store. Jones said she asked the teens if they were excited about prom. “They said they couldn’t attend prom because they couldn’t afford a dress,” Jones said. “Once I heard that I thought about the dresses at my house that I could give to them.” That year, she gave dresses to the those girls from her closet but couldn’t shake the idea that there might be others she could
By Carla Parker
Two South DeKalb ball players will be headed to Chicago next month to play on the McDonald’s All-American Basketball team. Power for wards William Goodwin William Goodwin from Southwest DeKalb and Tony Parker from Miller Grove were named last week to the 2012 McDonald’s All-American Basketball Team. The two will be playing together on the East team that will take on the West team. They are the first DeKalb players to make the prestigious team since 2008 when Dunwoody’s Chris Singleton was picked and number among a select few to be so honored. The McDonald’s All-American Basketball team is made up of top high school ball players nationwide. The 8:30 p.m. game will be held at the United Center and will be televised live on ESPN. Goodwin, who averages 21.8 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, signed with the University of Memphis in November.
Through 18 games played this season he has career totals of 1,405 points and 972 rebounds. Goodwin helped the Southwest DeKalb Panthers advance to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs in 2011 averaging 18.1 points and 10.1
rebounds. Parker averages 17.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. The 6-foot 9-inch big man, hasn’t picked a college yet but he has several choices. He will also play in the Jordan Brand All-American game on April 14 in Charlotte, NC. The 7 p.m. game will be held the Time-Warner Cable Arena. Parker has played a big role in the middle for the Wolverines during the team’s threeyear run as the Class AAAA state champions. The other DeKalb players to make the McDonald’s All-American team were Decatur High’s Melvin Howard in 1983 and Kelly Cain of St. Pius X in 2007. Cedar Grove’s Dion Glover was selected in 1997, and Redan’s Portia Phillips is the only girl from the DeKalb School to be chosen. She earned that honor in 2006.
Rec Centers registering campers Kids ages 5 to 15 can register for the Camp Superstars summer camp on Feb. 18 at all 13 DeKalb County Recreation Centers. The summer camps run weekdays June 4 to Aug. 3, and will include field trips, swim lessons, arts and crafts, fun with nature, sports, health and wellness
Robyn Jones ith some of the prom dresses that are in need of teens to wear them.
help. “Prom is a special time for teenagers and everybody should be afforded the same opportunity,” she said. People with gowns to donate and girls who needs prom dresses can contact Robyn Jones at email@example.com or 404645-4145.
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clinics, team games and more. The weekly cost is $55. Space is limited and early registration is recommended. The application is available at www.dekalbcountyga.gov/parks. Registration time varies at each center. For more information, call Bernita Reese at 404-371-6273.
February 18, 2012
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PUBLIC NOTICE Ashley Cascade will be accepting applications for our Site-Based Waiting List from February 21-22, 2012. We have Authority Assisted 1,2,3 and 4 bedrooms available. Applications will be given at the YMCA (2220 Campbellton Road, Atlanta, GA 30331) February 21-22, 2012 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. To be considered you must meet the following eligibility criteria: • No felonies or drug convictions • No prior housing debts • All members of household 18-61 years of age must be gainfully employed at least thirty (30) hours per week for a legitimate business enterprise, appropriate documentation required. If you are working under 30 hours you must be attending an AHA recognized school or work program. The only individuals who are exempt from the employment criteria above are the elderly (62 and older) and individuals who are disabled. Applications will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis and waitlist will be populated in a lottery format.
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Black History Month Copyright © 2012 CrossRoadsNews, Inc.
February 18, 2012
Church bombing a vivid memory, still By Jennifer Ffrench Parker
Sept. 15, 1963, started off as a beautiful Sunday morning. It was clear and the sun was shining. Thirteen-year-old Barbara Cross and her friends were excited about the first Youth Sunday at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., where her father, the Rev. John H. Cross, had been pastor for just over a year. After Sunday school ended in the church’s basement, Barbara was on the way to the restroom with her friends when her teacher, Ella Demand, stopped her. “She gave me a clerical assignment,” Barbara said. She asked her to write a list of students who were moving up to the next class. Her friends – Denise McNair, 11, and Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robinson and Addie Mae Collins, all 14 years old – went on without her. Minutes later, there was a loud explosion. Forty-eight years after the attack, Cross, now 60 years old and living in Decatur, still tears up at the memory of that morning. “It was a horrible noise,” Cross said. “The building was shaking, and the lights went out.” She screamed and began running in the dark. “Children were running everywhere all panicky,” she said. “My heart was racing real fast.” Adults guided the children out of the darkened basement. Cross said she remembers thinking that maybe Russia or Cuba had bombed the United States. The truth was much more local, and the reason was sinister. It turned out that Ku Klux Klan members had planted 22 sticks of dynamite under the stairwell from the first floor sanctuary to the church basement, right next to the gas meter and the girls restroom. Cross said the KKK was angry about her father allowing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to hold meetings at the church; the integration of Alabama’s schools five days
Decatur resident Barbara Cross shows the display board she uses to teach students about the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., that killed four of her friends. Cross shares a message of forgiveness during Black History Month programs.
Jennifer Ffrench Parker / CrossRoadsNews
earlier; King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963; and desegregation of downtown Birmingham’s lunch counters and department store fitting rooms that April. The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, one of Birmingham’s largest black churches, counted among its members the city’s black professionals. “We had architects, doctors, lawyers, educators and business owners,” Cross said. When her father dug through the rubble, he found the bodies of her friends. They were so mutilated that they had to be identified from the clothes they were wearing. The only survivor among the girls in the restroom was Addie Mae’s 11-year-old sister,
Origins of observance For the past 36 years, February has been celebrated as Black History Month. It’s four weeks a year when the spotlight focuses on African-American culture, heritage and achievements. Some people argue that one month a year is inadequate, but in 1976 – when the Washington, D.C.-based Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History Inc. expanded the former Negro History Week observances to a monthlong celebration – the contributions of African-Americans were largely ignored in this country. Harvard-educated Carter G. Woodson, who founded the association in 1915, initiated Negro History Week in 1926 to focus on the contributions of blacks in the development of America. At the time, the contributions of African-Americans had been largely left out of textbooks and the media. Woodson, who is called “the Father of Black History,” is the author of a number of books, including “The Mis-Education of the Negro,” published in 1933. That book outlines how poorly African-American children were being taught in school. It was Woodson’s hope that with the annual Black History observances, all Americans would be reminded of their ethnic roots and would develop mutual respect for each other. He picked February for the observances because it is the birth month of Frederick Douglass, who fought against slavery, and President Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves. In 2012, the theme of the month is “Black Women in American History and Culture.”
Sarah Collins, who was badly injured and lost her right eye. In addition to the deaths of the four girls, who were the subject of Spike Lee’s 1997 film “Four Little Girls,” 23 other children were injured that day. Cross later found out that she had been hit in the head by a falling light fixture. Her youngest sister Lynne, who was 4 years old, sustained a cut on her forehead, and Alma, 11, suffered a cut on her leg. Her brother Michael, who was 5, was also at church that day and had nightmares for a long time. Between 1947 and 1965, more than 50 bombings occurred in Birmingham, earning the city the nickname “Bombingham.” Among the 1963 bombings were the home
of King’s brother, A.D. William King, and the home and church of the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. The Cross family, who had received bomb threats before, didn’t spend that night at home. “We stayed with neighbors,” Cross remembers. The next day, King, his brother, Ralph David Abernathy and Dick Gregory came calling. “I opened the door, shook his hand and showed him to my parents,” Cross said, adding that it was the first time she had met the famed civil rights leader. Please see BOMBING, page B4
Woodson, the ‘Father of Black History’ Historian Carter G. Woodson was born to His first book, “The Education of the poor former slaves in New Canton, Va., on Negro Prior to 1861,” was published in 1915, the same year he co-founded the AsDec. 19, 1875. sociation for the Study of Negro Life and His parents, James and Eliza Riddle WoodHistory with Jesse E. Moorland. son, were so poor that he couldn’t attend He launched The Journal of Negro school regularly, but through self-instruction History, now The Journal of African he was able to master the fundamentals of comAmerican History, in 1916. His second mon school subjects by the time he was 17. book, “A Century of Negro Migration,” During the 1890s, Woodson hired himself out as a farm and manual laborer. He also was published in 1918. It was followed drove a garbage truck, worked in coal in 1921 by “The History of the Negro mines, and attended high school and Church” and in 1922 by the “The Negro college in Berea College, Ky. in Our History.” He earned a B.L. degree in 1903 and Carter G. Woodson At various times in his life, Woodson worked in the Philippines for the U.S. War Department taught school and was a principal. until early 1907. He also was the dean of Howard University’s School Woodson traveled to Africa, Asia and Europe and of Liberal Arts and West Virginia Collegiate Institute. In 1926, he launched Negro History Week, which briefly attended the Sorbonne in Paris, France. He received an M.A. degree in history, Romance lan- was expanded to Black History Month in 1976. guages and literature from the University of Chicago in Woodson was a sought-after speaker at schools, 1908 and earned his doctorate in history from Harvard Negro History Week events, and HBCU graduation ceremonies. In February 1935, he addressed “more than University in 1912. A prolific writer, Woodson wrote, co-wrote or edited three thousand persons” in Detroit. more than 20 books. Woodson, who never married and had no chilHe also wrote hundreds of essays in leading black dren, died of a heart attack on April 3, 1950. newspapers and created the Negro History Bulletin for He is buried at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in children and schoolteachers. Suitland-Silver Hill, Md. His most famous and enduring book – “The MisHis Washington, D.C., home has been preserved as Education of the Negro” – was published in 1933. the Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site.
February 18, 2012
“I often think that without the arts, without music, the movement would have been a bird without wings.”
Trailblazing soap opera star reflects on treatment, ‘blackness’ Pioneering actress Ellen Holly, who was the first black actor to be cast in a central role in daytime television, is offering reflections on her rocky journey on the soap opera “One Life to Live” in an open letter to fans and historians on www.blackstarimploding.com. The soap’s final episode took place last month after more than 40 years on the air. Holly, now 81, detailed her treatment on the soap opera in her 1994 autobiography, “One Life: The Autobiography of an African American Actress.” In her open letter on her new Web site, Holly said that she and Lillian Hayman, the actress who played her mother on “One Life to Live,” did not leave the show in 1985 “to go on to greener fields” as the show said. “Not so,” she writes. “We had been terminated, in secrecy, and with what we personally experienced as gratuitous brutality.” Holly, a fair-skinned African-American actress, was cast in 1968 as Carla Bernari, a black actress facing discrimination who decides to pass as a white. The trailblazing story line focusing on a black woman helped “One Life to Live” become a ratings juggernaut. The use of black actors and actresses also brought in a large and loyal black audience – one-quarter of the soap opera’s total viewership – for “One Life to Live” and the other ABC daytime soaps like “All My Children” and “General Hospital.” But Holly claims that while the show was being hailed in the press as ground breaking for both casting her in a central role and for drawing from the headlines of the turbulent 1960s, the treatment she and some of her fellow black cast mates received from show executives took a page from the playbook of daytime television’s duplicitous story lines. She said she was paid pennies to the dollar paid white stars and suffered years of overt hostility from producers. Holly’s “One Life to Live” saga began after she wrote a September 1968 piece for The New York Times called, “How Black Do You Have to Be?” that decried the rejection of fairskinned black performers as “not black enough to use” for roles on camera (commercials, soaps, and prime-time TV and films).
The Ellen Holly files: Ellen Holly was born in New York City on Jan. 16, 1931. After graduating from Hunter College where she majored in fine arts and minored in speech and drama, she made her Broadway debut opposite actor Barry Sullivan. n She played Carla Bernari, a black actress facing discrimination who decides to pass as a white, on the ABC daytime soap “One Life to Live” from 1968 to 1985. n She was the first black actress selected for entry into the Actors Studio, leading to major Broadway roles and several years at the New York Shakespeare Festival. n Her stage roles include “Tiger Tiger Burning Bright,” “Face of a Hero,” “Henry V,” “MacBeth” and “Taming of the Shrew.” n Holly’s film credits include “Take a Giant Step,” “Cops & Robbers,” “School Daze” and “10,000 Black Men Named George.” n She also guest starred in “The Defender,” “Dr. Kildare,” “The Nurses,” “Spenser for Hire” and “In the Heat of the Night.”
Ellen Holly, who played a black actress passing for white on “One Life to Live,” says she was terminated in secrecy.
Agnes Nixon, who was developing “One Life to Live” for ABC, saw the piece and cast her as Carla Bernari. Holly was originally contracted for one year but became such a huge favorite that her role lasted for 17 years. She was 54 when her role ended. She was also a regular on the daytime drama “The Guiding Light.”
“When people find out how badly I was treated, they ask why I stayed,” Holly said. “Not only was it due to the lack of options I had because of the dearth of roles offered to light-skinned African- Americans actors, but also because I was aware that my casting was a sort of experiment, one that as other black ‘firsts’ needed to succeed for others to be hired.” She continues to speak out on the obstacles faced by fair-skinned black actors and on the issue of what defines “blackness.” After her dismissal, Holly took occasional theater roles and worked until retirement as a library clerk. She shares details of her run on the show on www.blackstarimploding .com and encourages soap opera fans to contact her there.
Tuskegee Airmen in person, in film Activist remembered for kindness Members of the Tuskegee Airmen will be at Hillcrest Church of Christ in person and on film on Feb. 24. During the 7:30-to-8:30 p.m. program, participants will talk to some of the remaining Tuskegee Airmen and watch their exploits
in documentary clips. The program, which is free to attend, is sponsored by the Hillcrest Youth Ministry. The church is at 1939 Snapfinger Road in Decatur. For more information, call 404289-4573.
Satin Finish Band at airport atrium The Satin Finish Band will round out Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s Black History Month weekly music series on Feb. 24. The band will perform from 5 to 7 p.m. in the airport atrium. The program, held Fridays this month, spotlights artists from various genres, including soul, jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues. Performers included Frankie’s Blues Mission, Charles Marshall “the Jazz Ambassador,” and the Sounds of Essence. Katherine Dirga, the airport’s Art Pro-
gram manager, said the series pays tribute to African-American musicians. “As our nation celebrates the accomplishments of African-Americans, HartsfieldJackson is proud to remember the musical artists who reshaped American history through their wonderful talents,” Dirga said in a Feb. 3 statement. “We hope passengers and employees traveling through the atrium area will take a moment to enjoy these mini-concerts.” For more information, visit www .atlanta-airport.com.
Novel sheds light on turbulent era Javon Brothers, author of “A Deadly Night in the Harbor of Hospitality,” will sign copies of his historical novel on Feb. 23 at the Blue Elephant Bookshop in Decatur. The signing begins at 7 p.m. The novel, published in August, tells the true story of a 29-year-old black man, William Poole, who killed a white Navy seaman on New Year’s night 1943 in Elizabeth City, N.C. On that evening, two rac- Javon Brothers ist Southern sailors who accused Poole of an unsolved rape initiated an afternoon of bullying and beating. Poole retaliated, and that night the Ku Klux Klan and vigilante parties attempted to burn, lynch and massacre blacks in their small enclave.
Military troops were called in to prevent mass arson and devastation. The governor, J. Melville Broughton, dispatched a contingent of North Carolina state troopers to the area the next day and placed the N.C. State Guard on alert. Poole found himself wrapped up in a trial that sculpted the rest of his life. With questionable evidence and exhausted lawyers, Elizabeth City becomes the center of one of the most controversial trials in history. Brothers, who was born and raised in a semi-rural enclave on the outskirts of Elizabeth City shortly after the incident, said the story could have played out in any town in the South. He grew up hearing bits and pieces of the story. The Blue Elephant Bookshop is at 407 W. Ponce de Leon Ave. For more information, call 404-373-1565.
The late civil rights activist with,” friend Kalamu ya Salaam Ed Brown, who was an organizer said. for the pivotal Student NonvioMACE educated rural voters, lent Coordinating Committee, developed catfish farms and grocery was hailed at a Jan. 15 Atlanta stores, and promoted the Missismemorial service as man who sippi Delta Blues Festival. fought fire with a feather while Despite the many enterprises wearing asbestos gloves. MACE started, and the many black Brown, who was one of Ed Brown government officials elected from the less famous veterans of the the area, the Delta remains the movement, fought alongside John Lewis poorest region in the country. and others in the 1960s. Brown used the knowledge he gained He died on Nov. 23, 2011, after bat- in the Delta in the fight against apartheid tling cancer. in South Africa, where he represented the During the memorial service at the Carter Center, educating rural voters and Woodruff Arts Center, Lewis, now a observing elections. congressman representing Atlanta’s 5th His experiences fed his fascination with District, said Brown had a beautiful heart African art. He became an expert as both coland loved people. lector and a promoter as a co-owner of the “Sometimes people come along who Harris Brown Art Gallery in Boston. love humanity, who love the world,” said As a board member of Atlanta’s High Lewis. He said he thought Brown’s smile Museum of Art, Brown helped establish the would have melted the hostility, the hate. David C. Driskell Prize for African-American Speakers remembered Brown’s benign art and art history. The prize was named after spirit and his sense of humor during a life the Howard University art professor who first dedicated to human advancement. sparked Brown’s interest. In 1960, Brown was expelled from Lewis said Brown loved what is beautiful. Louisiana State University. Authorities “I often think that without the arts, without accused him of disturbing the peace by music, the movement would have been a bird taking part in one of the first sit-ins to without wings,” Lewis said. protest segregation. He was forbidden to Brown’s brother Jamil al-Amin, formerly enroll in any college in Louisiana. H. Rap Brown, first worked with him in So Brown and his six fellow student SNCC, just before leaving for the Black Panprotesters sued and were exonerated as thers. Brown remained close to his brother, part of the Briscoe v. Louisiana case. who was convicted in 2002 of killing a FulHe later chose to attend Howard Uni- ton County sheriff two years before, despite versity in Washington, where he met future contradictory evidence. Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. Before his death, Brown traveled to the “Ed taught me that the position [a per- maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo., son held] only mattered if you committed where his brother is serving a life sentence yourself to improving the lives of others,” without parole. In a letter read at the meFranklin said. morial, al-Amin wrote that his brother “was After college, Brown moved to the Mis- fierce in kindness.” sissippi Delta, where he displayed his sense Their youngest brother, Lance Brown, of irony by naming an organization he pledged to continue Ed Brown’s struggle. directed the Mississippi Action for Com“We will take that baton he passed us and munity Empowerment, or MACE. we will love others. That is what Ed would “Mace! That’s what they sprayed us want, so that is what we will do.”
February 18, 2012
The film blows the lid off one of America’s most cherished myths – that slavery ended with the passage of the 13th Amendment.
Documentary explores forced labor in South Celebrations in Lithonia Blackmon found “Slaver y by span generations, genres that, under laws enAnother Name,” a acted specifically to documentary that intimidate blacks, explores how forcedtens of thousands of labor laws in the African-Americans South served to perwere arbitrarily arpetuate slavery long rested, hit with outafter the Civil War rageous fines, and had ended, will be charged for the costs aired Feb. 26 and 27 of their own arrests. on WPBA Channel Armies of “free” black men labored without compensation in the years With no means to 30 in Atlanta. following the Civil War. The brutal system persisted until World War II. pay these ostensible Based on the Pu“debts,” prisoners were sold as forced laborlitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, ers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, the film blows the lid off one of America’s most railroads, quarries, and farm plantations. Local cherished myths – that slavery in this country governments became key providers of inmate ended with passage of the 13th Amendment. labor, while pleas for federal intervention fell It recounts how in the years following the on deaf ears. Civil War, insidious new forms of forced labor Armies of “free” black men labored without emerged in the American South, keeping huncompensation, were repeatedly bought and dreds of thousands of African-Americans in sold, and were forced through beatings and bondage, trapping them in a brutal system that would persist until the onset of World War II. Douglas Blackmon physical torture to do the bidding of white Author Douglas A. Blackmon, a former reporter for masters for decades after the official abolition of AmeriThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution and currently Atlanta can slavery. The film will air on WPBA 30 at 9 p.m. on Feb. 26 bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, sifted through original documents and personal narratives to produce and at 3 a.m. on Feb. 27. Check your cable or satellite the book, which won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non- provider for channels. For more information, visit www .slaverybyanothername.com. fiction in 2009.
Gullah Sea Islands focus of Heritage Club Fifth- through eighth-graders can learn about their culture with hands-on and interactive activities at the SankofaSpirit Heritage Club on Feb. 25. The 11 a.m.-to-1 p.m. program will focus on the Gullah Sea Islands and will include music, language, art projects and games. Pre-registration is required. Early registration is $10 until Feb. 18 and $15 until Feb. 23. To register online, visit www.sankofaspirit.com. For large groups, e-mail info@
sankofaspirit.com. The session will be held at the Georgia Hill Neighborhood Center, 250 Georgia Ave. St. S.E., Room No. 209, in Atlanta. The nonprofit SankofaSpirit is dedicated to providing cultural and educational programs and services that focus on Africa and the African diaspora. For more information, visit www.sankofaspirit.com or call 770-234-5890.
Lithonia’s youth and adults are celebrating Black History Month with performances, skits, a fashion show and a cookout between Feb. 20 and 29. The commemoration continues with a Feb. 20 youth talent showcase at the Lithonia First United Methodist Church. Young people from the Terraces at Parkview and other community members will dance, sing and play music from 3 to 6 p.m. The church is at 3099 Stone Mountain St. On Feb. 25, the Friends of the Lithonia African American Cemetery Organization will host a Community Cookout at the old Bruce Street School, across from the East DeKalb Precinct. From 2 to 4 p.m., participants can find out about the cemetery and how to volunteer to preserve the community’s history. For more information, call Corey Turner at 770-895-4305. Bruce Street East DeKalb Senior Center is hosting a Black History Program on Feb. 28 with a skit and fashion show from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The center is at 2484 Bruce St. The Lithonia Middle School students are staging a Black History Month play on Feb. 29. The school is at 2451 Randall Ave. For time and other details, call 678-875-0702.
Heritage Day Service Dr. Walter Kimbrough will be the featured speaker at the Columbia Drive United Methodist Church Black History Month Heritage Day Service and Feast on Feb. 19. Kimbrough is pastor emeritus of Atlanta’s Cascade United Methodist Church and author of “Nothing Is Impossible.” The theme for the 10 a.m. service is “Remembrance, Recollection and Reflection.” Kimbrough will speak about “Reclaiming Our Mission to the City.” The Heritage Day Service also includes a Naming Ceremony in which participants will Walter Kimbrough create their own Naming Rock in a hands-on display area. Columbia Drive United Methodist Church is at 2067 Columbia Drive in Decatur. For more information, call 404-284-4151.
February 18, 2012
“I am not going to apologize for my tears when kids are killed in a terrorist attack because of racism.”
Civil Rights Tour to revisit sites and landmarks in Alabama Black History buffs and students can visit landmarks and meet the people of the movement on the Evelyn Gibson Lowery Civil Rights Heritage Educational Tour to Alabama on March 3-4. The weekend tour journeys from Atlanta to black historical sites and landmarks in the cities of Birmingham, Marion, Selma, Whitehall, Montgomery and Tuskegee. Lowery is the wife of noted civil rights activist the Rev. Joseph Lowery. She and the SCLC/W.O.M.E.N. Inc. have constructed 13 memorials in remembrance of those who sacrificed or gave their lives to the struggle. Since 1987, she has personally hosted the tour that retraces the steps of the civil rights movement in Alabama. The tour takes off from the nonprofit’s Atlanta headquarters at 328 Auburn Ave. Monuments in Alabama include those honoring Coretta Scott King; the Rev. James Reeb; Albert Turner Sr.; Rosa Louise Parks; Viola Liuzzo; Freedom Wall Perry County; U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Marie Foster & Amelia Boynton, and Hosea Williams; Earl T. Shinhoster; Freedom Wall – Selma; the Rev. James Orange; and Jimmie Lee Jackson. This year, they also will visit the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan on Sept. 15, 1963. Four black girls – Denise McNair, 11, and Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robinson and Addie Mae Collins, all 14 years old – who were attending Sunday School in the church’s basement, were killed in the restroom, which was near where 22 sticks of dynamites were set. Tour participants can relive events that brought about dramatic change in the United States and hear the stories of the guides, including Decatur resident Barbara Cross, who was there in the 1960s. Cross was the 13-year-
The Edmund Pettus Bridge was the scene of “Bloody Sunday” on March 7, 1965.
volunteer and donation information, call 404-584-0303.
Birmingham was nicknamed “Bombingham,” because between 1947 and 1965, more than 50 bombings occurred there, including the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church attack , above.
old daughter of the Rev. John H. Cross, pastor of the church when it was bombed. The four slain girls were her friends. On March 4, the tour will join the Rev. Al Sharpton and other civil rights activists for the 47th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the March 7, 1965, crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge during which police brutally beat civil rights marchers on a 54-mile trek from Selma to Montgomery to protest discrimination and to call for voter rights.
The cost of the trip, which includes the bus ride and one-night hotel stay, is $275 for adults and $225 for students. Students under age 16 must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. For youth groups, one adult is required for every five students. Sponsorships, from $225 to $5,000, also are available. For more information, visit www.sclcwomeninc.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For membership,
Day trip to Selma Families also can take a day bus trip to Selma on March 4. The 2012 “It’s a Family Affair” Pilgrimage to Selma, Ala., commemorates the 47th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. It leaves the Mall at West End in southwest Atlanta at 6 a.m. on March 4 and returns at 9 p.m. The trip is sponsored by the Voter Empowerment Collaborative, a program of the Atlanta-based nonprofit Love in Action Ministries. Riders will worship at Shiloh Baptist Church at 11 a.m. and march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Brow Chapel AME Church at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 per person. An optional lunch at Shiloh Baptist Church is $7. For more information, call the Rev. Albert Love at 404-788-4542 or the Rev. Ward at 770-572-3782.
Survivor keeps memories of friends alive, carries on father’s legacy BOMBING,
King delivered the eulogy at the joint funeral for three of the girls. Cross said the theme of Sunday school that morning was “A Love That Forgives.” It would be 14 years before any of the four KKK members – Robert “Dynamite Bob” Chambliss, Herman Frank Cash, Thomas Blanton Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry – who were rounded up and questioned in the days after the bombing, would be brought to trial. “Back then, they didn’t prosecute white people for killing black people,” Cross said. In 1977, Chambliss was convicted of murder. He died in prison in 1985. Cash died in 1994 without being charged. Blanton was found guilty of murder in 2001; and 39 years later, on May 23, 2002, Cherry, then 73, was convicted of murder after his granddaughter testified he had bragged about the crime. Cross said the noise of the bomb going off made her a nervous wreck for years, “I would shake a lot,” she said. “I didn’t talk about it for 20 years.” Last year, when she returned to the church on a Civil Rights-Heritage Tour, visiting the church was as emotional as ever for her. Cross said it felt like the breath was being sucked out of her. “It felt like I was having a heart attack,” she said. In 2002, Cross testified at Cherry’s trial. The FBI gave her a pin for sharing the story of her friends. Cross began talking to groups in the late 1990s after Pastor George McCalep, the late pastor at Greenforest Baptist Church, acknowledged her as a survivor during a Black History Month sermon. After that, people began asking her to speak to schoolchildren, colleges, and community and church groups. Each year during February, which is observed as Black History Month, her schedule fills up. This year she is talking to more than eight groups, including students at Georgia Perimeter College, Smoke Rise Elementary and Towers High schools in DeKalb County, and Peach Chapel school in Conyers. Cross, who retired in 2004 from BellSouth after 31 years, is now a DeKalb Schools substitute teacher. She is an Advisory Board member of the SCLC/Women’s
Pledge to peace When she speaks to groups, Barbara Cross asks students and adults to pledge to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and nonviolent work by helping to make this world a better, more just place for all people: I will: n Respect all people. n Live a life of loving, not hating. n Choose patience over anger, nonviolence over force. n Actively help to promote freedom, justice and world peace.
Barbara Cross, second from right, with her family in 1963 when she was 13. The picture was taken before the bombing.
Organizational Movement for Equality Now and also serves as a tour guide with SCLC/W.O.M.E.N.’s annual Civil RightsHeritage Tour to Alabama. The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church at 1530 Sixth Ave. and 16th Street is on the tour. A kitchen now stands where the restroom in which her friends died once was. Her father remained pastor of the church until 1968 when the family relocated to Atlanta. He was associate pastor of Oakhurst Baptist Church from 1971-79, where he helped co-pastor the church that dealt with demographic changes as more African-Americans moved into DeKalb County. From there, he was assigned to Greenforest Missionary Baptist Church in 1979, where he helped recruit McCalep to become the church’s pastor. He remained a Greenforest member until his death at age 82 on Nov. 15, 2007. Cross’ presentation to students includes two display boards with a copy of the Sept. 15, 1963, church program and photographs of her father and mother, the rubble where her friends’ bodies were found, and a stained-glass window
donated to the church by the people of Wales, England, in memory of the slain girls. She also has newspaper clippings of the trials and convictions of the men who planted the dynamite. Even today, Cross chokes up at the memories of that fateful Sunday that has colored the rest of her life. “I am not going to apologize for my tears when kids are killed in a terrorist attack because of racism,” she said. Her sisters also live in DeKalb County. Cross shares her late parents’ Decatur home with Lynne. Alma, whose last name is now Barber, lives in Stone Mountain. While Cross collects books and newspaper clippings of the attack and talks often about that fateful day, Lynne won’t speak of it. Pressed, Barber, who was only 11 years old at the time of the attack, said she knew of the water hoses and dogs that were released on civil right protesters in Birmingham and Alabama’s segregationist Gov. George Wallace. She said she never dreamed anyone would bomb their church. A week before the bombing, Wallace had told The New York Times that to stop integration, Alabama needed a “few first-class funerals.” “When it happened, the [Sunday school] teacher knew immediately,” Barber remembered last week. “She said, ‘Oh my God, they bombed the church.’” Cross believes she was spared that Sunday so that she can keep the memories of her friends alive and carry on her father’s legacy. “My purpose is to talk about that message of forgiveness,” she said. “I know what it is to lose friends. I think I was spared to teach children and adults too about being kind and forgiving. There is no place for hate.”