JULY 2020 • VOL. 14 — NO. 7
Buckhead Reporter ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
K-pop fans cheer musicians’ Black Lives Matter activism
► Worth Knowing: A salute to 4th of July horses p18
Protests prompt calls for racial dialogue in schools and neighborhood
A neighborhood advocate steps aside, but not out P6 COMMUNITY
An Air & Space Museum at PDK? P20
Lovett School alumnus Harrison Rodriguez speaks to a huge crowd outside the Governor’s Mansion on West Paces Ferry Road June 7, drawing attention to prejudice in private schools.
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Buckhead CID leader to become new Coalition president BY JOHN RUCH
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In a major shakeup in the neighborhood’s business and civic organizations, Buckhead Community Improvement District Executive Director Jim Durrett will become the new president of the Buckhead Coalition. Both group’s staffs will merge, and combine offices with two other key groups,
Livable Buckhead and the Buckhead Business Association. Durrett will retain his role as Buckhead CID executive director. At the Buckhead Coalition, he replaces founding president and former Atlanta mayor Sam Massell, whose retirement after 32 years, effective June 30, prompted the reorganization. Durrett already has another prominent See BUCKHEAD on page 23
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Many protests inspired For more about by the porace and local lice killing of policing, George Floyd see p. 15-16. have come to Buckhead over the past month, with organizers frequently citing the neighborhood’s reputation as a wealthy, White and conservative enclave as a reason to demonstrate there. And it’s having an impact, with some civic and school leaders calling for dialogue about race and racism. See PROTESTS on page 14
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Sandy Springs begins process to change possible Confederate/KKK-inspired street names BY BOB PEPALIS AND JOHN RUCH Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul and the City Council have begun the process to rename two city streets that may honor Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader. The council on June 16 approved a resolution to rename Lake Forrest Drive and Forrest Lake Drive by dropping one “R” from each. In his original proposal announced June 2, Paul had only named Lake Forrest Drive. Councilmember Andy Bauman, whose district includes much of Lake Forrest, agreed with the street name changes. “You don’t want to erase history. But then again, one person’s history is another person’s nightmare,” he said. “I think this is a good starting point and we’ll listen.” “We can never make amends for some of the things that have happened in our history. But we can start doing some things to make amends in small but meaningful ways,” said Paul. “…I think it’s very important that we send a message to our community that these things matter to us as a body.” In discussing the proposal, however, Paul also cited the position that Confederate symbols once reflected “heritage” but
must be rejected now because they have been “expropriated by groups who were focused on hate.” Historians say that the Confederacy was fundamentally racist and fought the war specifically to preserve slavery of black people. Sandy Springs must hold a public hearing to rename a road and advertise it at least 25 days in advance. All property owners affected by the change must get written notice of it. The public hearing will be at the July 21 council meeting. Lake Forrest Drive and Forrest Lake Drive are both partially located within the city limits of Atlanta. Paul has contacted Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and other city leaders about the proposal. The council also approved a resolution urging the Georgia General Assembly to pass a hate crimes bill. The city adopted its own hate crimes bill in 2019. City Attorney Dan Lee said that other governmental bodies in Georgia have asked the Georgia Municipal Association about the Sandy Springs hate crime ordinance and to get copies of it as they consider their own ordinances. The city’s moves come in response to nationwide and local protests of the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota and of many other controversial killings of black
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people around the country, including Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia. Confederate monuments and tributes are also being spotlighted for change or removal around the South. The day after the council discussion, Piedmont Healthcare announced it will permanently remove from its Piedmont Atlanta Hospital campus in Buckhead a Civil War monument that honors the “valor” of soldiers on both sides.
Lake Forrest discussion
In neighborhood discussions, the Lake Forrest renaming has received some praise as well as criticism as either political correctness or an empty gesture. The mayor discussed his own background of growing up in the South. Paul said his great-great-grandfather was captured in the wheat field of the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and died in a federal prison-of-war camp south of Philadelphia. “My grandmother ran the United Daughters of Confederacy chapter in her part of Birmingham, Alabama, all of her adult life,” he said. She told him about the heritage of the Civil War veterans. “And I have dozens, dozens of ancestors who fought on the Confederate side of the Civil War,” he said. He listened to her share the heroic stories about his ancestor. At the time, he said, he gained an appreciation for what was taught to him as a child. “As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand that there are different viewpoints, different understandings that the symbols that I grew up revering… I came to understand that those symbols had also been expropriated by groups who were focused on hate,” Paul said. “And my response for people who say this is about heritage, not hate, the fact that those symbols have been appropriated for purposes of generating hate means we had lost them as symbols of our heritage.” “And so I don’t accept that argument any longer,” he said. Gordon Jones, the senior military historian at the Atlanta History Center and a Civil War expert, said that the Confederacy was always about racism and preserving enslavement of black people and said so in its constitution. He said that looking at what politicians and soldiers said during the war and in the 40 years leading up to it — as opposed to post-war narratives — there is no doubt about its motivation. “And the central issue without which there would have been no secession — I mean, this was the issue that really split the country — was slavery,” said Jones. “So when you look at that broad context, it is very clear that slavery is the central cause of the war.” Likewise, said Jones, Confederate monuments and similar tributes are not just controversial now, but always have been, even though they “enjoyed a lot of popular support” in the South. “This is not a new story,” he said. “Monuments like this have been contested since
the day they were put up, not just by African Americans, but also, particularly in the post-war period, by U.S. veterans who have felt this was a way of sort of letting the Confederacy win after their comrades had sacrificed all this.” “I’m not for erasing history. I’m not for tearing down every monument, renaming everything that’s been named through years,” Paul said. He said it is important that the city send a message to the community that if they want a community with harmony and understanding of justice, they need to understand what these symbols mean to their neighbors, community members and people who they encounter during their daily lives. The mayor said the city can make the same simple change the Fulton School System made a few years ago when it dropped one an “R” to make Lake Forest Elementary School “forest as in trees, rather than Forrest as in names.” Councilmember John Paulson said efforts must continue. He doesn’t want the council after doing this to say, “we are good to go here.” “This is the start of an introspective look of what meaningful change can be in the city,” Paulson said. He was interested in seeing what other steps the city can make to keep social injustice and racism out of Sandy Springs. “Make this a start,” Paulson said. What complicates the road names issue is that the city can’t prove for sure that Lake Forrest was named for the Confederate general. “But knowing how Southern history has been manifesting itself across this region through the decades, 150 years, there is virtually no doubt in my mind about the origin of the name Forrest when it comes to Lake Forrest Drive,” said Paul. “It was just second nature at the time this road came into being, they would be named after people that were the leaders of the Confederacy in the South.” Bill Hardin, a professional real estate researcher in Midtown, says an investigation he did about the area 15 years ago suggests Lake Forrest might have been named for a developer or a development — possibly Forrest Adair, who partnered in the creation of such Atlanta neighborhoods as Adair Park and Druid Hills, served as a Fulton County commissioner, and co-founded what is now the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite hospital in Sandy Springs. But Hardin acknowledges he has no solid evidence for his naming theory, either, beyond cryptic notes he made during his investigation. The street’s name was changed from West Peachtree Drive to Lake Forrest in 1938, he said. If it indeed has a Nathan Bedford Forrest connection, he said, that could reflect badly on Troy Chastain, the namesake of Buckhead’s Chastain Park, who developed the area and led the name-change effort. BH
Community | 3
Fulton district attorney, sheriff races are headed to runoff
BY BOB PEPALIS Incumbents in races for Fulton County sheriff and district attorney are headed to runoff elections with challengers on Aug. 11. No Republican ran for those offices in the June 9 primary, which means the winners in the anticipated Democratic runoff should be the next Fulton County sheriff and district attorney.
Incumbent Fulton District Attorney Paul Howard faces a challenge from his former employee Fani Willis in his bid for reelection. Another former assistant district attorney in the race, Christian Wise Smith, has since endorsed Howard.
Fulton Sheriff Ted Jackson held a commanding lead over his four opponents as he also sought to stay in office. But he was short of the 50% plus one vote necessary to avoid a runoff with challenger Patrick “Pat” Labat.
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Piedmont Atlanta Hospital will remove monument over Confederate tribute concerns BY JOHN RUCH email@example.com
A Civil War monument praising the “valor” of both sides in the conflict will be permanently removed from Piedmont Atlanta Hospital campus in the wake of renewed controversy nationwide over statues and other displays honoring the Confederacy. The monument was removed from the 1968 Peachtree Road campus in 2017 for construction on a new tower and other facilities. During a previous round of Confederate controversy that year, Piedmont Healthcare said the monument would be reinstalled once construction was complete this year. But the healthcare system now says the monument will not be coming back. “Piedmont Healthcare is listening to our team through many courageous conversations to hear their concerns and to learn from their experiences related to race relations in our country and workplace,” said spokesperson John Manasso in a written statement. “Out of respect to our employees and the communities we serve, we have no intention of reinstalling the monument. While it is currently in storage, we will eventually have it removed from the Piedmont Atlanta campus.” Asked where the monument might end up, he
The monument dedicated to soldiers on both sides of the Civil War’s Battle of Peachtree Creek as it previously appeared on the Piedmont Atlanta Hospital campus.
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said, “I would say that is to be determined.” The large stone monument refers to the Battle of Peachtree Creek, which took place on what is now the hospital campus and surrounding area as the Union fought to seize Atlanta. An inscription on the monument reads, “This memorial to American valor is dedicated to the participants in the Battle of Peachtree Creek, July 20, 1864, on this, the 80th anniversary of the first of the four conflicts for the possession of Atlanta.” The monument was erected by the Atlanta Historical Society, which is now the Buckhead-based Atlanta History Center. And the History Center has a different view of such monuments today, saying they are part of the “Lost Cause” myth that downplays the role of slavery as a cause for the Civil War and the post-war “Reconciliation” period when Northern and Southern groups emphasized national unity while allowing segregation and related racist laws. The monument, like most of its kind, date to the “Jim Crow” segregation period of 1877 through the 1950s, when they were part of an effort to emphasize white supremacy, the History Center says in a “Confederate Monument Interpretation Guide” it issued in 2015 in the wake of a racist mass murder at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The History Center advocates keeping Confederate-honoring monuments in place, but adding signs to contextualize them. That tactic was adopted by the city of Atlanta following a 2017 commission on Confederate memorials. Among the monuments that received a contextual sign was another one in Buckhead, on Peachtree Battle Avenue, similarly honors the “American valor” of both sides in the Civil War and refers to the “common heritage” of warring troops. In that same program, contextual signs were added to monuments in Piedmont Park and Oakland Cemetery. One of them, the “Lion of Atlanta” sculpture at the cemetery, has been the target of recent vandalism. The renewed attention on Confederate symbols was sparked by nationwide and local protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota and several other black people in other parts of the country. The city of Sandy Springs is the midst of a proposal to rename Lake Forrest Drive, which extends into Buckhead, due to an unconfirmed theory that it is named in honor of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Sandy Springs are seeking city of Atlanta cooperation in renaming the entire street.
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Art & Entertainment | 5
Local K-pop fans cheer artists’ support for Black Lives Matter movement BY ERIN SCHILLING firstname.lastname@example.org
Na’Kia Hammock loves K-pop. The 26-year-old Sandy Springs photographer has been a fan of Korean pop music for years and said she doesn’t find many other Black K-pop fans. So when K-pop artists and fans came together to support the Black Lives Matter movement, Hammock was pleasantly shocked. “It was so unexpected, and that’s what makes it so much more amazing,” Hammock said. “We’re over here with the Black Lives Movement — angry, sad and scared — and then all of the sudden, it’s just the amount of people who showed up out of nowhere from the K-pop community to support it was just amazing.” K-pop fans and idols have made international headlines as fans have banded together to fill with K-pop photos and memes the social media hashtags that counter the BLM movement such as “#WhiteLivesMatter.” Fans of global K-pop sensation BTS, who refer to themselves as ARMY, matched the boy band’s $1 million donation to the Black Lives Matter organization in early June. Hammock said her surprise at the artist and fan’s support for BLM also comes from a yearslong controversy about Korean artists appropriating black culture. “They sample or are inspired by Black culture,” Hammock SPECIAL said. “Some things Na’Kia Hammock sports her gear from the K-pop band BTS. are pretty offensive, and yet because their fan bases are so large, they get away with doing such weird and wild things, like hair in braids or dreads or things like that.” However, Hammock said more K-pop artists are acknowledging their influence from Black culture, such as Korean-American rapper Jay Park, who posted a lengthy Instagram post in support of BLM. “Me being inspired by Black culture aside, me having Black homies aside, just as a man and a human being ... to think how helpless he felt and how inhumane he was treated ... to think what if that was my dad, or uncle or homie makes me sick to my stomach,” Park wrote in the post about the killing of George Floyd. Park’s post made ATLocal media director Robbie Atkinson an even bigger fan of the artist because of his willingness to speak up. At ATLocal, a promotion company that brings K-pop events to Atlanta, Atkinson creates videos for K-pop artists to send to local media companies. In that role, she said, she has talked to artists who have acknowledged their inspiration from Black culture. “It’s one thing to be able to align with our culture, our music, our aesthetic,” Atkinson said. “But when you can stand behind us in the face of these problems as well — and racism doesn’t just affect the Black community, but it’s also a human rights issue — that feels amazing.” Atkinson said the silence of some artists feels even more noticeable now that others are voicing their support for Black Lives Matter, but when she pointed that out online, some K-pop fans became defensive.
“I think education is a form of activism, maybe not the same as what other groups of K-pop fans are doing,” Atkinson said. “Showing them the perspective of a Black fan of K-pop. You don’t have a right to invalidate our perspective or experience just because you don’t have that same experience.” Atkinson made a video a few years ago pointing out the problems with K-pop artists appropriating Black culture, which she also said caused backlash from some fans. She said other K-pop fans sometimes dismiss concerns from Black fans, which she hopes is starting to change as artists stand with the BLM movement. ATLocal director Ashlee Rackthai said the company has turned to social media to educate its followers and employees about the BLM movement. Social media is the main way K-pop fans connect because they’re so scattered around the world, local K-pop fans said. Since K-pop fans also tend to be young people, social media platforms such as TikTok become a major connector. K-pop fans and TikTokers said they registered tickets to President Donald Trump’s recent campaign rally in Oklahoma and did not show as a prank to empty the arena, The New York Times reported. Kaylee Bolson, a 21-year-old Woodstock resident, said K-pop artists tend to do a lot of activism, such as for the LGBTQ community or during the international women’s march in January 2017. She said she’s proud of her favorite artists who have become so vocal about BLM. Bolson said the Atlanta K-pop scene is bigger than in other U.S. cities. There are speciality stores like K-Pop in USA on Buford Highway in Doraville. But fans still connect mostly through social media, such as Facebook groups and Twitter. When there are conventions or concerts in the city, Bolson said, she’ll use the platforms to meet up with fans and go together. Though Bolson said she misses concerts and seeing fellow fans in person at events, she hopes fans continue to use their voices on social media to support the BLM movement.
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Joe Earle is editorat-large at Reporter Newspapers and has lived in metro Atlanta for over 30 years. He can be reached at joeearle@ reporternewspapers.net
Neighborhood advocate steps aside
of life.” Mary Norwood, a Buckhead activist, former Atlanta City Councilmember and former mayoral candidate, described Certain as “one of the most accomplished neighborhood advocates I have ever known.” Debra Wathen has worked with Certain for a decade on the Buckhead Council of NeighSigns of change show up all around Gordon Certain’s north Buckhead home. Newer, borhoods, an organization that brings together representatives of neighborhood associations bigger houses have replaced older, smaller ones. New tall buildings loom nearby. There are from across Buckhead. Certain has served as BCN’s secretary and plans to continue in that more people, more cars, more of just about everything else, except maybe trees. “Everything role. has just mushroomed,” Certain said. “I think the world of Gordon because he works from the heart,” Wathen wrote in an email. When Certain moved into his ranch home on North Ivy Road in 1975, there was a dance “He is passionate about what he does and does an amazing job. He educates himself on ishall across the street. It was surrounded by acres of forest containing more than 500 mature sues that concern his neighborhood, as well as those that concern the Buckhead Council. If he trees. A developer bought the place and now suburban homes cover that land. These days, doesn’t know something, he asks questions until he gets a full understanding before he forms the view from Certain’s steep driveway is no longer of woods, but of side-by-side houses and opinions. For that reason, I truly respect him and what he has to say. He is also a machine! I do front yards. not know how he accomplishes all that he does.” Not all change is bad, of course. Certain expanded his house, adding Certain, who’s now 77, grew up in Florida and came to Atlanta to study space as his family grew. As north Buckhead has developed, residents have engineering at Georgia Tech. That led to a job at Lockheed-Martin, where he seen parks and playgrounds sprout throughout their neighborhood. Not worked for 31 years. Upon retirement, he decided to get involved in what was long ago, it had no public green spaces. going on around him so he became active with his neighborhood associaThere are other, perhaps less obvious, signs of change, too. The state Sution, the NBCA. “I thought I could use what I learned in business to help the preme Court sided with the neighborhood and the city to keep commercial neighborhood,” the soft-spoken Certain said. “And I did.” development from encroaching into certain residential areas. And Atlanta The BCN, an “association of associations,” got its start in 2008 as a way adopted a master plan for the area that was developed by the area’s homefor Buckhead’s neighborhoods to play a larger role in debates over developowners’ association, the North Buckhead Civic Association. ment as the community grew. When it formed, the organizations representCertain, who headed the North Buckhead association for two decades, ing Buckhead were dominated by businesses. “We just needed a voice,” Cerplayed a big part in making those good things happen. He attended city tain said. meetings, called public meetings, conducted surveys of residents and lobIn public meetings and as the editor of his neighborhood’s newsletter, bied city officials to push the homeowners’ point of view on everything Certain often provided that voice or a way for that voice to be heard. At times, from street widenings to the need for playgrounds to community planning. JOE EARLE his engineering background would show through. He regularly drew maps He regularly put in a full work week on neighborhood business, said his and built charts for the NBCA newsletter. He comes off as a numbers guy. Gordon Certain chats on the wife, Sue Certain, who says he once suggested the couple celebrate their A decade ago, for instance, after complaints about crime in Buckhead porch at his Buckhead home. wedding anniversary by going to a Buckhead community meeting. “He does flared up, Certain mapped every reported major crime in Atlanta on poster this all day long, every day, including weekends, for 20 years. It’s just who he board to show people attending the NBCA’s annual meeting that there were is. He’s just made that way,” she said one recent morning as she and Gordon sat in a sunroom more crimes elsewhere in the city. “I just thought it was inappropriate for folks to focus up at their home and listened to bird calls from the surrounding trees. here [in Buckhead] on crime,” he said. Certain joined the NBCA board in 1998, after retiring from a career as an engineer. He He still has the map, which is covered with red dots showing concentrations of crime. “I served as the group’s treasurer in 1999 and took over as its president in 2000. He held the said we’re here,” he said, pointing out the less-spotted north end of the city, then gesturing neighborhood association’s top job until May. He plans to remain on the organization’s to areas with a greater density of reported crimes. “This is hell down here. We’re in heaven.” board. He plans on staying. If he and Sue ever need to move from the house on Ivy Road, he said, Atlanta City Councilmember Howard Shook calls Certain “an unflagging supporter of they’ve reserved a spot in a condo tower on Peachtree Street. “We might end up in high-rise the neighborhood” who worked “ceaselessly to improve its safety, infrastructure and quality heaven,” he said. He paused and grinned at the thought. “Or hell.”
We aren’t perfect, but
WE ARE ONE. One world, one country, one community, one family. When one man hurts, we all hurt. When one woman loves, we all love. When one child laughs, we all laugh. We all carry a heavier burden when we divide and separate, but we thrive when we lift each other up and celebrate. Celebrate our differences. Celebrate life. Celebrate love. Celebrate best friends, old friends, new friends. Celebrate little victories right along side the big. Celebrate the opportunity to stretch
One World One Country One Community One Family
our minds and open our hearts until they hurt. We celebrate this collective we call humanity, where you don’t have to fit in to belong, where being your own true self is the most precious gift of all. WE CELEBRATE YOU.
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Perimeter Business | 11
Healthcare leaders say lessons learned in pandemic create opportunity BY BOB PEPALIS
COVID-19 safety measures increased
Healthcare leaders said in a Perimeter Center discussion that they expect the disparity of care for minority and rural residents to get worse, but they see an opportunity to use what they have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic to make positive changes. Dr. Kathleen Funk of Northside Hospital; Heather Dexter, CEO of Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital; and Brian M. Rivers, director of the Cancer Health Equity Institute at Morehouse College took part in the Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber of Commerce’s “Return to the Perimeter” virtual panel on June 9.
costs, cut revenue
tinued through August, Emory would
“We couldn’t find PPE so we had to
have suffered a $660 million loss of rev-
start looking for alternatives. Then we
All three of the panelists said the
enue, she said. In May, Emory Health-
asked our staff to reuse items not de-
additional health safety measures re-
care announced furloughs or hour cuts
signed for reuse,” Dexter said.
quired because of the coronavirus have
for many employees. Reopening plans
Testing capacity wasn’t available for
increased the cost of providing the
didn’t change based on projected and
a long time. Once testing was available,
realized losses, said Dexter.
results took a long time to come back.
Elective procedures at Emory St. Jo-
By the end of May and June some
Rivers said Morehouse School of
seph’s and Northside were stopped at
procedures resumed and for the past
Medicine made the decision to transi-
the start of the pandemic to keep per-
few weeks Emory St. Joseph’s was at
tion the platform of classroom work
sonal protective equipment available
75% of its normal volume.
more toward a virtual setting early in
for working with coronavirus patients.
For inpatient care, Dexter said the
“We went from our normal volume
hospital had to “assure the safety of our
Research came with other difficul-
down to about 20% of normal,” Dexter
patients but also assure the supplies
ties. If a researcher is not at the bench,
were available for the personal protec-
most research can’t continue. They had
tive equipment necessary for our staff.”
to create novel pathways and approach-
Emergency Department and inpa-
Times became difficult right away.
tient visits dropped 50%. If it had con-
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continued on page 13
12 | Commentary
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Commentary: A note to Atlanta on race and inclusion Editor’s note: This commentary on recent calls for dialogue about race and racism is signed by founders of several organizations that have performed prominent work in such local communities as Buford Highway, as well as groups that serve various parts of metro Atlanta. As we consider and enter into conversations about race in every facet of our lives, let us center the Black women and nonBlack women of color who have been having these conversations for years, for whom this work is not something we picked up in the last three weeks, but lifelong. These conversations with one another have been survival mechanism, sustenance and sanctuary. We urge leaders everywhere to center, amplify and value us, our work and our stories, because much of what we have experienced and the treatment we have endured can serve as cautionary lessons for what not to do. Much of what we have learned and achieved can serve as a beginning point for reimagining how we think about and approach our communities and cities. While not elected or appointed to serve our communities, we have been at the forefront of addressing the entrenched inequities and disparities of metro Atlanta resulting from its repeated failures to care for its Black residents and residents of color. We have organized and built movements, and designed and implemented solutions that are based in care and rooted in community rather than relying time and again on policing as the predominant, daily and often only mechanism of community engagement with minoritized and racialized communities. Each of us has dedicated our lives to this effort, and we do this work daily, because we must. There are no days off. Especially in Atlanta, it is our responsibility and our salvation to contend with our history, to wrestle with the legacy of the Spirit of Atlanta and the Atlanta Way, to take leave of the systems, beliefs and habits that no longer serve us well or at all, and to make a new way by making it as we go. Because we do this work daily, we are a true barometer of the state of the city and the region. We are a compass informing Atlanta where we are and guiding where we must go. We are the best prescription and pathways for healing. Individually, and occasionally together, we have seen a lot. We have been in countless rooms and at countless tables where we have been the only women, the only people of color, the only women of color. We are constantly asked to have our brains “picked,” only to have our ideas dismissed and criticized, or “borrowed” and co-opted by, and credited and well-compensated for, others. We’ve been tone-policed, gaslit and silenced. We’ve been asked to “share” our expertise for free, sign on to letters of support for grants that will go to White-led organizations or White consultants, and to serve on task forces and committees that do not listen to what we have to say, while seeing men and White women consistently lauded and compensated handsomely. We’ve been asked by “allies,” in return for the token gesture of coffee or lunch, to facilitate introductions so that they can diversify their boards, recruit donors from our communities, or create programming to make their own organizations relevant to communities of color. We’ve been asked by Atlanta’s private institutions to teach their students and provide tours of our communities for free. We’ve had to parade and perform our trauma for the mere chance of support and funding. We’ve had White women’s tears weaponized against us. And we are tired. This is what it’s like to be “welcomed” and “included” in Atlanta. Yet we persevere. Each of us, as a founder, as a creative, as an organizer, is rediscovering and reclaiming our selves through our work in ways that are personal, transformative and liberatory. We’ve all leaned hard into our own trauma, grief, anger, fear, imposter syndrome and burnout, interrogating every intention, holding ourselves accountable for every mistake and misstep. This is what doing the work means. And we persevere in doing it because we love this place, we love who we are and are becoming in this city and region, and we love the women coming along with us and after us and every day coming more into their own.
We persevere because the Band-Aids are no longer enough, Atlanta. Ask us what an Atlanta that no longer desperately needs the organizations we founded might look like. Ask us what an Atlanta without homelessness might look like, an Atlanta where Black spaces are preserved and alive with joy might look like, an Atlanta whose public spaces welcome and reflect with love, compassion and healing every person who has felt left out, unseen or wounded. Ask yourselves what an Atlanta looks like that makes the most marginalized among us, the least of these, whole. Ask us, and, because these requests require our labor and the expertise acquired through experience and refined through our work, pay us when seeking our time, our advice, our intellectual property, our insight and instruction, and our endorsement. We must hold fast to our calling and fight for one another, step by step. Not merely to listen, not to become better individuals, not to make friends with people of a different race or ethnicity, not to increase diversity hiring. Atlanta is called in this moment to apprehend and excavate White supremacy, antiBlackness, our own internalized oppression, from the roots, to dismantle systemic, institutionalized racism, to heal ourselves, to make ourselves and the places in which we live, just, at peace and whole. Neda Abghari Founder and Executive Director, The Creatives Project Liliana Bakhtiari Community Organizer and Consultant Monica Campana Co-Founder and Executive Director, Living Walls Rutu Chaudhari Founder and Executive Director, The Dharma Project Stephanie Cho Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta Nedra Deadwyler Founder and CEO, Civil Bikes Yvonne Druyeh Dodd Founder, Evi D. Consulting Nikishka Iyengar Founder and CEO, The Guild T. Lang Artistic Director, T. Lang Dance Owner and Founder, The Movement Lab ATL Makeda Lewis Social Media Manager, MINT Gallery Marian Liou Founder, We Love BuHi Tracy Murrell Founder and Chief Creative, Tracy Murrell Studios Tiffany Ray Chief Strategic Officer, Generation Infocus Martice Sutton Founder and Executive Director, Girls Going Global Malika Whitley Founder and Executive Director, ChopArt Leatrice Ellzy Wright Executive Director, Hammonds House Museum To join our discussion, please email email@example.com. BH
Commentary | 13
A call to serenity
washed-out glass jars and finding things to fill them with. I get little bursts of satisfaction when I can transfer slivered almonds from their plastic bag to an empty jar of spaghetti sauce.
This is a difficult time to write a column that I hope people turn to as a source of diversion and perhaps mild amusement. Even the spreading virus and ensuing lockdowns could be fodder for jokes about weight gain and quarantine beards and wine tours that took you from your kitchen to your bathroom to your living room. Creative types repurposed popular tunes and masterworks of art with coronavirus themes. (My favorite was “The Girl with the Purell Earring.”) I thought it was a tribute to the human spirit that in the face of a global pandemic, people found a way to laugh. Humor gets us through a lot. But there’s nothing entertaining about the current events of our nation, and I’ve been hard-pressed to find a topic of diversion. Then I came across this quote by the writer Annie Dillard: “A writer looking for subjects inquires not after what he loves best, but after what he alone loves at all.” So I thought I’d start there, first focusing on what I love, which is a lot of things, then trying to identify that
Robin Conte lives with her husband in an empty nest in Dunwoody. To contact her or to buy her column collection, “The Best of the Nest,” see robinconte.com.
thing that I, uniquely, love. Chocolate and coffee are easy to cancel out, as they are items of universal adulation. Mountains and beaches, sunsets and waterfalls — they also garner widespread admiration, being the subject of everything from screensavers to dream vacations. I am developing increasing appreciation for Mason jars, versatile little things that can be used as drinking vessels, rustic vases and storage containers and are handily equipped with imprinted lines that render them
useful as a measuring utensils to boot, but they’re making a comeback, so I’m not alone there, either. In truth, I could focus purely on glass jars, since, like the cra-
And then, suddenly, I thought of the whippoorwill. I know I’m not the only one to be enchanted by the song of a whippoorwill, yet for me it is singular in that it is the song of my own memories. The very sound carries me back to my childhood and nestles me softly down onto the old couch on the front porch of my grandparents’ house in rural New Hampshire. It was there that I learned of this bird as a herald of the night and heard its call, a piercing sound that begins at the first dusky moment of twilight when the sky melts into mystical shades of bluish gray (shades which I’m sure Benjamin Moore has a found a way to can and number). It was there that my Nono told my siblings and me a legend of a pair of starcrossed lovers who became separated, as lovers of legends are wont to become, and whose nightly calls to each other were immortalized in the whippoorwill’s repetitive trill. It was there that I would sit as the evening deepened and cooled, by then just with my siblings and our Nana, because Nono always retired early. We would sit in the comfort of her presence, watching and listening, and use the time to rest and reflect on the day that just faded and how it was spent and the promise of not much more to come but sleep and rejuvenation and the prospect of rising again. I think of the song as mine alone because it is the call of my wise and loving grandmother, as well as my own naive youth. And with it I remember the words I spoke at her funeral almost 20 years ago, when I struggled to describe her to the congregation. I admitted that my words were flat, like snapshots, and that to truly reveal the person that she was, I would have to take you with me, to her house on the hill, where you would feel serene just to be in her presence … the presence of a woman whose soul was as pure and clear as the call of a whippoorwill. Perhaps that’s why I love that bird’s call, because in reminding me of her, it calls for me to be the same.
zy lady who collects feral cats, I’ve begun inexplicably surrounding myself with
Healthcare leaders say lessons learned in pandemic create opportunity continued from page 11 es to continue their research. A lot of the patient population has
eryone coming into the hospitals gets screened.
for COVID-19 treatment. Opportunity to change healthcare model
been clinical based, Rivers said. Many
“I think unique for Morehouse
The healthcare leaders said with
processes could be converted to a virtu-
School of Medicine is that we have re-
the practices that became necessary
al platform. He said it took some adjust-
turned to campus,” Rivers said.
with the coronavirus, an opportunity
ment to move from the clinical setting
It took a lot of preventive measures
while offering the same level of integ-
to realize that, he said. “Everyone has
to be tested. We tested our entire work-
From a clinical point of view, Funk
said COVID-19 is nothing like any other
Fear has people waiting too long to
virus they’ve seen in their lifetimes —
come to the emergency department,
not only for its mortality, but also in the
challenge in finding the different ways the illness can present. Northside’s staff canvassed across
in special situations were allowed. Ev-
has been created to change the face of healthcare.
ties to increase the availability of care. “Telehealth can inexpensively bring quality care to those communities,” she said. Northside completed more than 70,000 telehealth sessions. Those included follow-ups from the emergency
“Even in the midst of this pandem-
department and surgery. The primary
ic we realized that some individuals or
care clinic took the lead, calling COV-
families have it much worse than oth-
ID-19 patients who were discharged
ers,” Rivers said.
from the emergency department.
African American, Hispanic and
“We worked really, really hard to
rural communities suffered more for
make people safe when coming into our
various reasons, he said. Poverty and
hospital,” she said.
densely populated areas make social
Emory St. Joseph’s has been working with telehealth for about 10 years, Dexter said.
the nation and the world, reaching out
Funk and Dexter both said the clean-
distancing ineffective. The pandem-
“We feel like we made more progress
to colleagues to learn more about the
ing and disinfecting process makes it
ic helped magnify the healthcare dis-
in 10 weeks than in the 10 years previ-
coronavirus. One board member had a
almost an hour to turn over a room be-
parity on a national level, Rivers said.
ous,” she said.
contact that provided the hospital sys-
tween patients. Employees and patients
He said we can’t go back to business as
Rivers said Morehouse found some
tem with an early copy of the manual
must wear face masks. Dexter said fur-
usual with how we structure health-
written by Chinese scientists on how
niture has been removed to help assure
people were having a difficult time un-
they were managing things.
“But we have to make change to be
In addition to postponing elective
Outside of the hospitals, Funk said
sure we are… meeting the needs of all,”
cases, the panelists’ institutions took
not a lot of people are wearing masks.
many other steps to try to control the
To those people who find wearing a
Funk said they continue to seek part-
spread of the coronavirus at their fa-
face mask uncomfortable, she said, it
ners in rural communities to arrange
cilities. Visitors were limited and only
is less so than being put on a ventilator
for specialists to visit these communi-
derstanding the health guidelines being issued. People were gathering in churches,
when they needed social distancing. “But we knew that message needed to be clarified,” he said.
14 | Community
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Protests prompt calls for racial dialogue in schools and neighborhood continued from page 1 City Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit, whose District 8 includes some of Buckhead’s most exclusive communities, said he attended every protest held at the Governor’s Mansion on West Paces Ferry Road. That “absolutely” had an effect on him as an elected official, he said. “The effect it had on me is, this is an issue that we have to wrestle with and have to address,” said Matzigkeit. “This is an issue [where] the police are one part of it, but that’s in a way a symptom of a much larger and deeper issue that we have to address as a city and as a country, and that’s racism.” Sam Massell, a former Atlanta mayor and recently retired president of the Buckhead Coalition, said the protesters are worth listening to and that dialogue should happen. “I’ll be the first to admit… that politicians look at numbers,” said Massell. “And so 500 marchers on the Governor’s Mansion to petition the government to do so-and-so, that’s meaningful. A thousand marchers is even more meaningful.” “Anytime you can reduce stress and tension and friction [with] conversation -- anytime you can go from confrontation to the conference table -- you have moved in the right direction,” Massell added. “It would be beneficial.” City Councilmember Howard Shook, whose District 7 includes North Buckhead, said he wants to hear ideas for police use-of-force reforms. But he ques-
tioned the protesters’ perception of Buckhead. “Well, Buckhead always has and always will have that, the image of being the rich, White part of Atlanta. I’m merely saying, there’s a whole lot more to that story than that sentence,” said Shook. “Buckhead’s always — Buckhead is Buckhead. It’s just probably always going to be easily stereotyped.” Buckhead has come a long way since it was a literal battlefront in the Civil War and the neighborhood’s majority-White demographic’s origins in the Jim Crow era. But its more recent history includes many chapters that have left some in the Black community, and the rest of Atlanta in general, not feeling so welcome. Twenty years ago, there was the gentrification of Buckhead Village’s nightclubs into a luxury shopping complex unloved by tourists and locals alike. There was Buckhead attorney Tex McIver’s notorious 2016 murder of wife Diane in what he initially claimed was a gun accident caused by his fear of phantom Black Lives Matter protesters. There was the 2018 Peachtree Hills dispute about a prominent White nationalist taking up residence and joining the civic association, the sort of thing that doesn’t seem to happen in other Atlanta neighborhoods. Then there are bigger-picture issues, like the separatist urge that rumbles from time to time about Buckhead cityhood or annexation into Sandy Springs. On the biggest stage of all has been White Buckhead candidate Mary Nor-
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wood’s razor-thin losses to Black candidates in two mayoral races fraught with racial tension for which both sides blamed the other. When Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms held a Buckhead town hall last year, she found herself reading aloud an audience criticism that her campaign had been “racially divisive.” Norwood, who now chairs the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, did not respond to a comment request about the new idea of racial dialogue. When largely peaceful George Floyd protests began Downtown May 29, they spun off looting, vandalism and arson that came to Buckhead that night. It remains unclear who and why that activity came to the neighborhood and if any political message was intended as part of it. The certainty is that the ongoing series of peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrations that have come to Buckhead since then are having impact. One of the biggest, held on June 7, zeroed in on claims of lingering prejudice and lack of diversity in the area’s elite private schools. That protest triggered what appears to be long-lasting racial dialogue at The Lovett School. And it already indirectly brought down another notorious icon of Buckhead’s public image: the OK Cafe’s artwork depicting the former segregation-era Georgia flag that contained the Confederate battle emblem. As the protest organized in the West Paces Ferry Road shopping center under the name “Buckhead for Black Lives,” the neighboring OK Cafe diner displayed a counter-message banner reading, “Lives That Matter Are Made with Positive Purpose.” In the ensuing uproar, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, the restaurant removed the flag artwork.
Private schools spotlighted “The message we sent to the people of Georgia today is a powerful one,” said Harrison Rodriguez, a recent Lovett School graduate and one of three brothers involved in organizing the protest in front of the Governor’s Mansion on West Paces Ferry Road. Among the multitude of students and alumni from Lovett, Pace Academy and the Westminster Schools were many others joining or observing, including Matzigkeit, Atlanta Board of Education member Cynthia Briscoe Brown and, according to a Sports Illustrated report, Atlanta Falcons football team coach Dan Quinn along with players and staff members. Fred Assaf, Pace’s
head of school, marched with a “Black Lives Matter” sign in hand. For organizers like the Rodriguez brothers — Blake, Franklin and Harrison — a driving motive was to address racism, prejudice and representation in the area’s private schools. In an interview before the march, Franklin and Harrison Rodriguez, who are of black and Puerto Rican background, said that their alma mater, Lovett, has made great strides. But, they said, it still has issues of tokenism, avoidance of black history and politics, and factors like lack of transportation that suppress diversity on the leafy campuses within the Southeast’s most exclusive neighborhood. “They need to do a better job making black kids comfortable,” said Franklin, who graduated two years ago and now attends Louisiana State University. “There were less than 20 black students in my class out of 170,” said Harrison, who graduated last year. The criticisms are hitting a nerve, at least at Lovett. Its history in the segregation era included a notorious rejection of Martin Luther King III as a student in the 1960s, an event detailed today on the school’s website and contrasted with its diversity efforts. Head of School Meredyth Cole said in a statement posted on the website ahead of the march that Lovett has more to do. “We don’t have all the answers, but we do know that words without action do not drive meaningful change,” she wrote. “We will be broken as a community until all members feel that they are equally safe to respectfully express differences of faith, background and thought without fear of being devalued, targeted, ridiculed or suffering retribution.” Lovett spokesperson Lindsey Wohlfrom said that in the last academic year, the student body was 22% black or people of color. Following the protest, the school held two virtual listening sessions for its community and created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee to create what the school says will be a “comprehensive plan of action.” In a June 18 letter on the school’s website, Cole and Lovett’s incoming and outgoing board chairs said the committee is “charged by the board to ensure that all families of color thrive at Lovett. The committee’s work will seek to understand issues, determine appropriate policy, and establish the indicators and measurements for which the administration will be accountable. Our BH
Community | 15
collective goal is for all members of our community to feel a true sense of belonging.” “It was great to see the huge impact we made with such a short amount of time to prepare for it,” Franklin and Harrison Rodriguez later said in an email, though they noted, “Lovett has since not issued any formal statement regarding the George Floyd killing or their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.” They said their group will continue working with the school. The Rodriguez brothers are the sons of Frank Rodriguez, better known as Frank Ski, a prominent entrepreneur, DJ and radio personality on Atlanta’s V-103. Frank said he chose Lovett for his sons “because academically what they provide is second to none.” And
they excelled in various areas, including Franklin in football, and Harrison in jazz trumpet and Mandarin Chinese. He said the school’s racial challenges revolve around limited points of view and exclusion. “Sometimes it’s subtle things,” said Frank. He recalled Franklin’s football coach warning that there’s no excuse for missing practice, including “going to your beach house or lake house. You can imagine who he’s talking to. He’s not talking to us…. You’re talking to a certain segment and you’re alienating others.” The practice of legacy admissions weakens diversity, Frank said, as does the sheer difficulty of getting to campus at a school where most students must be driven in private cars, especially those
from minority or lower-income communities. “If you think about it in the context that it took a very long time for MARTA to stop at Lenox just because of the racism… When you really want diversity, you have to work hard so that kids are able to go to [the] school,” said Frank. Wohlfrom noted that last year Lovett began a pilot program of school bus service in North Buckhead and Brookhaven, which it is expanding. However, that program was presented as a solution to campus traffic that was a controversy among neighborhood residents as well. Last year Cole had an initially positive reaction to a neighborhood idea of charging outsiders tolls to use local streets, which was later criticized by some other residents as inequitable. Franklin and Harrison did not cite
open bigotry as a Lovett problem. They said many individual teachers, students and administrators were welcoming and cited such organizations as Teens Against Prejudice. But they also spoke of tokenism in short-term volunteer service or one-off Black History Month events. And, they said, students were encouraged to avoid discussion — on the grounds of potential controversy — of momentous political events like the election of President Barack Obama or earlier Black Lives Matter protests. “That stuff was very good,” Franklin said of student volunteer opportunities in less privileged parts of town. “The issue is, that only lasts for so long in somebody’s mind who is in the Lovett bubble, [which] is what we called it.”
How race and racism shaped growth and cityhood in north metro Atlanta BY JOHN RUCH firstname.lastname@example.org
In Buckhead and Brookhaven, in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, mayors and other prominent elected officials have responded to the George Floyd protests by decrying systemic racism and calling for civic dialogues on race. According to some Atlanta historians, they won’t have far to look for subject matter. Racism, the historians say, was a driving force in making the communities majority-White and affluent, in the annexation and cityhood movements that raised them to prominence, and in the lingering segregation that they help to embody in the metro area’s housing patterns, schools and economic development. “I don’t think anything’s changed for the suburban areas. They resisted integration back then… The whole area’s still segregated,” said Ronald Bayor, a retired professor of history and sociology at Georgia Tech and author of “Race and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century Atlanta.” Race is one of many factors in Atlanta’s political and social history, he and other experts note, but early overt racism remains an enduring, underlying, systemic force that shapes where people live and work, whether intentionally or not. Bayor and others say old racist patterns continue to play out in redevelopments of places like Buford Highway and Sandy Springs’ North End, where mostly or allWhite groups seek higher-end remakes of minority areas for their own aspirations, or in separatist urges like rumblings about Buckhead leaving Atlanta. Two of the leaders involved in the political debates that led to the landmark 2005 incorporation of Sandy Springs -the inspiration for other local city forBH
mations -- agree that race was a factor, though not on whether it came predominantly from White Republican proponents or Black Democrat opponents. “It was much more complex and complicated than just race, but race was a factor.” said Rusty Paul, who fought for cityhood as a state senator and is now the city’s mayor. “...By the time cityhood really got critical mass, racism was much more subtle but still just as effective. I would not be fair [or] accurate if I didn’t acknowledge that there were issues on both sides that had racial overtones. It wasn’t everyone.” Paul added that “for reasons that I truly never understood,” race became an opposition issue, along with class and partisanship, as the cityhood was led by “very affluent, White [and] Republican” community advocates. “I think it’s going to be difficult for them to have a quote-unquote dialogue on race until they come to admit that the city was birthed in racism,” said former state Sen. Vincent Fort, who opposed Sandy Springs cityhood. He said he sympathized with arguments for more local control, but that achieving it through separatism was unnecessary and a form of coded racism based in “resentment that you had a majority-African American board [on the Fulton County Commission] making decisions.” Paul’s recent moves to establish a series of virtual dinners to discuss race and racism is a major development in local politics. Yet racial dialogue is also not new to metro Atlanta and itself can be part of the pattern of racial hierarchy. The classic form is the “Atlanta Way,” a term recently used by J.P. Matzigkeit and Howard Shook, members of the Atlanta City Council representing Buckhead, in praising or calling for peaceful protests. As described by former Georgia Tech
urban planning professor Larry Keating in his book “Atlanta: Race, Class and Urban Development,” the Atlanta Way was a political tactic established by Mayor William Hartsfield for dealing with the burgeoning Civil Rights movement of the 1950s. It involved White business and political leaders teaming with Black community leaders to negotiate gradual desegregation in exchange for avoiding direct confrontations or more radical demands. The Atlanta Way is credited for making the city relatively progressive in its time and for avoiding more severe versions of racist backlash violence that gripped other Southern cities. “But beneath this surface civility harsh facts prevail,” wrote Keating. The effect, he said, was to ensure White business elites controlled the city, with some concessions for the Black middle class, and little interest in the needs of the White middle class and the poor of either race. Continued segregation and widening income inequality are among its results, he writes. It’s a political dynamic that has continued even after decades of Black mayors leading Atlanta, according to Keating and Bayor. “It’s always been a facade. First of all, Atlanta was never ‘the city too busy to hate,’” said Bayor, using another Hartsfield-era term. “...There’s always been problems over race and I think that continues. Obviously in the [Atlanta] police department it continues.” “Taking down statues -- and I have no objections to taking down Confederate statues -- but that’s facade also. That’s how they’re covering,” Bayor said. “Things have to go on that will change the systemic racism that goes on in our society. And that’s so inbred into the system it’s going to take a while.”
Race and northern expansion
“White fear of a black-run city” dominated Atlanta politics for a hundred years after the end of the Civil War, when Black citizens got the right to vote, Bayor wrote in his book. Along with “Jim Crow” laws enforcing racial segregation, those politics shaped the development of the northside suburbs. Segregation of Black residents in less desirable areas helped to send more White residents into then largely rural northern communities. Brookhaven’s Lynwood Park neighborhood was created in 1930 by Black residents forced out of Buckhead, where many continued to work as personal servants, according to the book “Race and Ethnicity: Across Time, Space, and Discipline.” At least 15 African American communities were wiped out for White redevelopment by governments in the area in 1940-1960, according to Keating. They include Macedonia Park, razed in the 1940s and ’50s so the White Garden Hills community could have amenities at what is now Frankie Allen Park. Expansion of the northern suburbs came in the Civil Rights era and “was overtly racial at first,” writes Keating. “Affluent Whites moved to the northern suburbs to live at a distance from the city’s Blacks, whom segregation had concentrated in the near south side.” After Jim Crow, a degree of that segregation in real estate is maintained, Keating and Bayor say, through such mechanisms as restrictive zoning that inflates home prices and agents steering Black clients away from White communities. Jobs shifted north as well, with Buckhead becoming Atlanta’s financial core and Perimeter Center a Forcontinued on page 16
16 | Community
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ed annexation out of fears of higher taxes and that the White-majority tactic would fail. In one response, Sandy Springs activists wrote that they would “build up a city separate from Atlanta and your Negroes and forbid any Negroes to buy, or own, or live within our limits,” according to Princeton University history professor Kevin Kruse’s book “White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism.” When future founding mayor Eva Galambos got involved in the cityhood movement a decade later, such overt racism was gone. Like city founders who followed her in Brookhaven, Dunwoody and other metro areas, she and her allies talked about tax money going elsewhere rather than improving local streets and policing, and about corrupt or incompetent county governments that foisted unwanted developments on the community. In her 2011 autobiography “A Dream Come True,” Galambos presents Black leaders’ opposition as inexplicably mean or irrational and hinted it was itself a form of racism, culminating in the mo-
tune 500 hub. When integration exists, it is often just a temporary side effect of gentrification, according to Keating. That process is a recent dynamic in Atlanta, as White populations both return to the inner city and move to even farther suburbs, while Perimeter cities grow increasingly diverse. In the 1940s, Hartsfield attempted to annex Buckhead and some other White suburbs into Atlanta. Revenue was the public rationale, but privately he acknowledged it was also about maintaining a White majority. “Our Negro population is growing by leaps and bounds… [Black citizens] “will become a potent political force in Atlanta if our white citizens are just going to move out and give it to them,” he wrote privately to community leaders in Buckhead and Druid Hills, according to Bayor’s book. Buckhead’s annexation was accomplished in 1952, and in the 1960s, Hartsfield set his sights on Sandy Springs for the same reasons. Local residents reject-
ment cityhood supporters convinced Civil Rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis to endorse their right to vote on the plan. Fort says there was no mystery to the opposition: It was about maintaining revenue for less affluent Black communities in need. “I could sympathize with the zoning issue because I come out of that type of neighborhood protection background,” said Fort. But he believes the arguments about keeping money local and incompetent leaders were in part thinly veiled racist tropes, and that cityhood was a prelude to the “apartheid” proposal to break off north Fulton as a separate, majority-White county called Milton -which was politically viable as recently as 2011. “It is just so ironic they would charge that they were quote-unquote the victims and that their fight for the incorporation of Sandy Springs and other incorporations was a Civil Rights issue. … It’s really kind of mind-boggling,” said Fort. “Sandy Springs is a lot more diverse than the concept of it,” said Paul, suggesting there was some stereotyping of
the cityhood movement. He focused on the outcome, claiming the city today provides as much or more tax revenue to Fulton and that the recent incorporation of South Fulton shows the cityhood model is effective. “What we proved, I think, was that you can have your cake and eat it, too,” he said. Paul said that back then, he never sat down with cityhood opponents to ask about the racial issues; now he is among the leaders making that call for racial dialogue that is new to the young cities. Fort said he wonders whether it will result in significant changes like redrawing City Council districts to allow for the election of minority candidates. Bayor says that, while there is plenty to discuss, there are few models for successful integration anywhere in the U.S. “They’re all talking the talk, but let’s see if they’re walking the walk,” he said. “... It’s certainly better to have that discussion. But it’s not like we haven’t had it before.”
Stats show Buckhead is still majority-White and wealthy; police use of force is low A month of George Floyd protests frequently brought demonstrators to Buckhead, many of whom said part of the reason was the neighborhood’s status as a majorityWhite example of Atlanta income inequality -- which U.S. Census data bears out. And as local controversy erupted over the Atlanta Police killing of Rayshard Brooks, Buckhead’s Zone 2 precinct has reported few uses of force this year and no shootings.
Jim Skinner, a planner at the Atlanta Regional Commission, provided custom Census statistics for Buckhead at the Reporter’s request. The 2019 Census estimate had Buckhead’s population at 100,123. The racial breakdown was as follows, with the citywide figure in parentheses for comparison: ■ ■ ■ ■
White: 71.6% (36.2%) Black: 11.7% (51.3%) Asian: 7% (5.1%) Hispanic: 7.4% (5%)
Buckhead also differs greatly from the city as a whole on income and wealth in the form of home ownership: Median household income: $100,414 ($58,167) Average household income: $157,835 ($99,153) Per capita income: $81,684 ($44,736) Median home value: $645,461 ($336,684) Average home value: $786,967 ($463,063)
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Police use of force
APD makes it moderately easy to get use-of-force reports, providing those for Zone 2 in 2020 via an Open Records request. However, complaint reports were delayed, with APD citing resources tied up in responding to the ongoing protests. Of the 10 use-of-force reports provided, two appeared to occur outside of Zone 2. None of the remaining eight involved lethal force or the use of weapons. They ranged from throwing people to the ground to laying a hand on someone’s chest to knocking down a door for a hostage situation. Two suspects were described as having minor facial injuries after being pulled to the ground by officers. Seven of the eight reports included rulings that they were justified; the other one had no ruling either way. The knee-to-the-neck restraint infamously used by Minneapolis police during the killing of Floyd is banned by APD — though there are exceptions for deadly-force situations. APD said the use of a “neck restraint” is against their use-of-force policies for normal arrests. Neck restraints include chokeholds and other forms of pressure to the neck or throat. The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police says such neck restraints are widely prohibited. APD said it has prohibited such holds for at least 16 years. “It appears the language on neck restraints was added into our use of force policy in 2004. I don’t have information on why,” said APD spokesperson Carlos Campos. A big exception in local departments is that choking a suspect would be allowed in a situation where deadly force is permitted, basically meaning where the suspect is deemed to be an immediate threat to killing or severely injuring another person. In essence, a neck restraint is seen as a lethal tactic. The APD’s use-of-force policy addresses neck restraints in a lengthy passage: “Employees will not use neck restraints, carotid artery holds or other weaponless control techniques that are not taught or approved by the department due to the potential for serious injury or death; unless they are in an emergency situation or under exigent circumstances where it is immediately necessary to use force to prevent serious bodily injury or death and city-issued and/or authorized lethal or less-lethal weapons are inoperable, inaccessible or otherwise not available or effective.”
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In estimates based on Census surveys conducted in 2014-2018, about 8% of Buckhead households had incomes below the federal poverty level, compared to about 18% citywide. And Buckhead had an estimated 969 households that receive food stamps, compared to 31,855 citywide.
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Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoody-Sandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at email@example.com.
Thanks to COVID-19, the 2020 Dunwoody 4th of July parade was canceled. Based on past attendance, more than 2,500 participants and 32,000 spectators were left with a gaping hole in their Independence Day. Especially disappointed were the members of the Central Georgia Mounted Color Guard, the patriotic riders and horses Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoodythat carry the flags andSandy leadSprings the parade. line and writes about people whose lives inspire ContactPam her at firstname.lastname@example.org. According to parade others. Co-Chair Talmadge, when the pandemic caused participants to start pulling out even before the cancellation, the one group that was all in was the CGMCG. Though most parade-goers have a favorite float or band, the horses seem to rank high on everyone’s list. No surprise. Even people who don’t ride them like them. In fact, for more than 5,000 years we humans have not just liked them. We’ve farmed with them, worked with them, traveled with them, gone to war with them and built a country with them. Today, we mostly just love them, which is why the members of the CGMCG are passionate about sharing their equine partners with the public. The Central Georgia Mounted Color Guard was founded in 2012 as a nonprofit by two lifelong horsewomen, Ruth Wilson and Ann Harris, with the motto “Honoring Those Who Serve.” They led their first Dunwoody parade in 2014. “We love the Dunwoody parade,” said Wilson. “It was the first parade to seek us out, and we were honored and thrilled.”
4th of July Parade’s riders hold their horses for pandemic’s end
PAUL WARD PHOTOGRAPHY
The Central Georgia Mounted Color Guard leading the 2019 Dunwoody 4th of July parade. Front to back: Lisa Stacholy on Joe, Jan Stacholy on Twister, Ruth Wilson on Major, Nick Stacholy on his patriotically decorated bike. Hidden behind Major is Serina Stacholy as safety walker.
WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS BETTING ON THE WRONG TEAM… DOES YOUR WEALTH MANAGER HAVE THE RIGHT PLAYERS? WHAT DO YOU MEAN -- “THE RIGHT PLAYERS?” A recent industry survey of the top 50 independent broker-dealers highlighted the number of CFP® practitioners relative to the total licensed brokers (those selling products or giving advice) at these firms. The percentage was under 25% for most, far below our number at L&W (70%+). The majority of our advisors have multiple credentials, including CPA, JD, and other advanced designations. WHAT ELSE SHOULD FAMILIES LOOK FOR BEYOND CREDENTIALS? Deep experience. Firms with less real-life experience tend to offer the “standard prescription” or template solutions when addressing client needs. Tried and true is great, but only the experience of living with the ultimate outcome of advice develops the perspective needed to create client-centered solutions families have a right to expect. It is (borrowing the famous book title) “What They DON’T Teach You at Harvard Business School.” IS IT HARD TO FIND EXPERIENCE OUT THERE? Unfortunately, many advisors with deep experience are within the big Wall Street banks, and conflicted by business models that involve the sale of investment products. They do not adhere 100% to the fiduciary legal standard of placing the client’s interest first. (Families should never compromise regarding 100% fiduciary compliance.) Even in fiduciary firms, experienced
Bill Kring, MaryJane LeCroy, and Phillip Hamman, discuss the importance of having a team of professionals to determine the right choice for you. (Left to right: Phillip Hamman, CFA, CFP®; MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®; and Bill Kring, CFP®)
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Unlike smaller parades, Dunwoody offers a small stipend. “We really depend on that stipend,” said Wilson, who adds that the group has some small sponsors, but the riders pay all their own expenses except for their official jacket and shirts, which they give back when they leave the group. Members pay for all of their own travel costs, which are significant when hauling a horse trailer, plus all their color-coordinated, parade-specific attire and tack (such as color-coordinated saddle pads, fly caps and hoof dressings). In the case of the Dunwoody parade, it’s red, white and blue down to the glitter on the horses’ hooves. The core group consists of four members, supported by children, grandchildren and spouses, who participate as riders, safety walkers and cleanup detail. Young riders don’t carry the colors. The safety walkers keep overly excited spectators from approaching and spooking the horses. According to Wilson, as proud as they are to carry the colors, their favorite part of the Dunwoody parade is the meet-and-greet after. “Parents can’t pull their kids away. A lot of them are as excited as the kids and buy watermelon for the horses,” she said. Two years ago, at the end of the 2018 parade, Dunwoody resident Lisa Stacholy visited the meet-and-greet and asked if she and Joe, her Appaloosa, could join the team. Normally, prospects must attend desensitizing clinics at Wilson’s farm, where horses are exposed to sights and sounds they might encounter at a parade. “We look for a confident rider with a confident horse,” said Wilson. “Our clinics expose them to people, noise, smoke, flags and a shooting range that sounds like motorcycle backfire.” Since Stacholy knew Joe was unflinchable and the team needed a rider for the upcoming Alpharetta Old Soldiers Parade in August, she skipped the trial. She and Joe rode in that parade but didn’t SPECIAL carry the colors. After the 2019 parade, Lisa Stacholy and Joe get ready for the meet-and-greet with the help of Jordan Fields. On July 4, 2019, they rode in Dunwoody, her hometown, and carried the colors of the U.S.A. “Dunwoody was an indescribable feeling,” she said. “We’ve lived here since 2002. To do something so huge was a proud moment.” Even more special, her whole family participated. Her husband Jan, who grew up with horses, rode Twister, one of Wilson’s horses. Her daughter Serina was a safety walker and her son Nick followed the horses on his bike along with a Dunwoody High School classmate doing clean-up. “Our vets give so much they deserve more than a wink and a nod,” said Stacholy. “I always get choked up when someone struggles to stand and salute the flag.” Like Wilson, Stacholy loves the meet-and-greet. “Joe understands the different levels of people,” she said. “When a family approached with their special needs son in a wheelchair, Joe patiently stood there, head lowered, as they lifted their son’s hand to pet his nose. It was a magical moment when the child made the connection.” Stacholy and her teammates all hope to ride in next year’s parade. Meanwhile, they are looking for riders, helpers and sponsors. For information, go to cgmcg.org or facebook.com/CentralGeorgiaMountedColorGuard.
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A nonprofit organization is raising money to preserve photos, records and memorabilia from the former Naval Air Station in Atlanta in hopes the materials eventually will go on public display at an aviation museum at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport.
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The Inspire Aviation Foundation hopes to eventually create an Atlanta Air & Space Museum at PDK, which once was the NAS Atlanta. For now, it seeks to raise $3,500 to help preserve the history of NAS Atlanta by digitizing materials assembled over the years by members of the Naval Air Station Reunion Group, according to the foundation’s website. The archives feature photos, base programs and directories, promotional literature, engineering and architectural drawings for construction of the original World War IIera Naval Air Station, the foundation says on its website. “It’s very rare material, very precious material,” said Moreno Aguiari, a member of the Atlanta Air & Space Museum’s board of directors, who worked on WWII-era airplane news publications from his PDK office. Before it became a public airport, the Chamblee airfield, located on Clairmont Road on the Brookhaven border, had a history of military uses. Camp Gordon, a World War I
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Sandy Springs 5975 Roswell Rd Suite A-103 (404) 236-2114 NothingBundtCakes.com Expires 7/31/20. Limit one (1) coupon per guest. Coupon must be presented at time of purchase. $5 off $25 before tax. Valid only at the bakery(ies) listed. Valid only on baked goods; not valid on retail items. No cash value. Coupon may not be reproduced, transferred or sold. Internet distribution strictly prohibited. Must be claimed in bakery during normal business hours. Not valid for online orders. Not valid with any other offer.
The reunion group started annual meetings in 1960, once the air station completed its move to Marietta, Aguiari said. The group’s archives were donated to the foundation. In addition to the archive, the foundation intends to develop a ground tour of PDK airport highlighting the facility’s history, according to Aguiari and the webpage. Eventually, the foundation wants to develop the Atlanta Air & Space Museum and Educational Campus at the county-owned airport and to use the archival material in a display about Naval Air Station Atlanta. Anyone interested in donating to the archives preservation project can find further details on the website at AtlantaAirAndSpaceMuseum.org.
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Chattahoochee River NRA friends group works on fishing pier, trail study and park improvements BY BOB PEPALIS A nonprofit friends group for the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area formed relatively recently, in 2012, but its volunteers have already undertaken big projects. A kids’ fishing pier at Island Ford in Sandy Springs, a comprehensive trail study and a new stairway improving access in the Vickery Creek Unit are a few of the projects by the Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy, said board president Phillip Hodges. “The National Park Service would like for all national park units to have a friends’ group,” Hodge said, and Conservancy fills that role. The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (NRA) has a big economic impact on the nearby communities, including Sandy Springs and Dunwoody. The more than 3.4 million visitors to the park spent $152 million in those communities. That supported 2,160 jobs and created a cumulative benefit of $213 million to the local economy, a recently released National Park Service report said.
“National parks are a vital part of our nation’s economy, especially for park gateway communities, such as those along the Chattahoochee River, where millions of park visitors enjoy outdoor recreation opportunities each year,” said Acting Superintendent Ann Honious. In addition to its park project work, the Conservancy has presented education programs. “More recently we have helped with some park infrastructure improvements such as the new stairway across the covered bridge in the Vickery Creek Unit in Roswell. That was a big project,” Hodges said. “We have recently replaced the kids’ fishing pier in the Island Ford Unit where the headquarters is.” The group also funded the park’s first comprehensive trail watch study for the whole park. “Many of the trails are degraded and they need work. A lot of that work can be done through volunteers, another aspect of the Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy,” Hodges said. With the National Park Service recently reopening the Chattahoochee
River NRA to volunteers amid the pandemic, they will have a chance to get back to work. “Besides raising money for improvements, replacements or creating something new, the conservancy’s goa is to increase volunteerism, to do things like work on the trials which are well used – some might say overused – and need a lot of attention,” he said. Current projects for the volunteers include a dog waste campaign, SPECIAL which is a big isPhillip Hodges, board president of the sue in the park. He Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy. said despite what some people think, trails is not a god thing. The rains wash bagged or unbagged dog waste left on the the waste down and into the river, pollut-
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ing it. The Conservancy is working to increase the number of dog waste stations and adding “snappy new signage that we hope will help a little bit,” he said. Another big project is the replacement of the Jones Bridge Unit overlook. The third project, improving the shared-use trails in the Cochran Shoals subunit, still needs approval from the National Park Service. The shared use trails are the only places within the Chattahoochee River NRA where mountain bikes can be ridden. The Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy has added some of its own money to what Hodges called a generous grant from REI. The partnership includes Mountain Bike Atlanta, and he was waiting to hear how much that group could contribute before the project’s scope could be completed. “Out of 80 miles of trials there are only 7 miles where you can legally mountain bike. Those seven miles of trails are worn out,” Hodges said. The project was tentatively budgeted at $50,000. “It is great that the trails are open, the parking lots are open. People can get out,” Hodges said. “I can tell you the park service has been very measured and very careful. They are careful about visitor safety and employees’ safety. We do hope people will get out and enjoy the park, but just be smart, safe, and stay six feet apart. For more information, see chattahoocheeparks.org. BH
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Buckhead CID leader to become new Coalition president; staffs to merge continued from page 1 role as the main proponent of “HUB404 Atlanta GA,” a proposed park capping Ga. 400 in Buckhead, and he serves as treasurer of a nonprofit conservancy that is planning it. The changes make Durrett, already a powerful figure in the community, even more directly influential on local policy and programming than Massell, who long has been nicknamed the “mayor of Buckhead.” Durrett said in an email that the concept of mergers came from his discussions with a succession committee within the Buckhead Coalition. “What is crystal clear to me at this point is that leadership and members of all of the organizations will be able to learn and understand the missions and programs of work of each other,” Durrett said. “Mutual support will be elevated, and we will have the opportunity to engage the full Buckhead community in future efforts. That is going to make our work more effective across the board.” As for the multiple hats he will wear in the new arrangement, he said, “The challenge appeals to me. And the rest is just time management.” While sharing a nonprofit or not-forprofit structure, the four Buckhead groups cover a wide variety of purposes and goals: Buckhead Community Improvement District: A self-taxing group of property owners, with a board filled with major developers, that funds public safety, transportation and beautification projects. Buckhead Coalition: A private, invitation-only community group of 100 members who pay fees of thousands of dollars to join. The group compiles detailed information about Buckhead, provides donations and volunteers to a variety of programs, and hosts an annual lunch known for news-making speakers.
Livable Buckhead: Led by Executive DiThiry, which will continue. rector Denise Starling, a sustainability-foMassell will remain a consultant to cused nonprofit that oversees construction the Buckhead Coalition for two years. In and operation of the PATH400 multiuse a phone interview, he joked, “I have sellpath, organizes alternative commuting er’s remorse. I don’t know why I resigned. programs, consults on conservation im… I miss it already.” But more seriously, he provements like solar energy fixtures, and said, he stayed out of the succession comstudies such topics as affordable housmittee’s work but supports its decision. In ing policy. Its board a written statement, includes representahe said he “endorses tives of many promithe transformation” of nent developers. Starthe Coalition and acling also chairs two knowledged that after separate but influenmore than 30 years, “it tial Development Rewas probably time for view Committees for some changes.” special city zoning Durrett said it is districts in the neightoo soon to say what borhood, providing might change about detailed advice on dethe Buckhead Coalisigns. tion specifically beBuckhead Business yond the merger. Association: Currently Those sorts of discusSPECIAL led by president Matsions will begin after Jim Durrett. thew Thiry, an attorney, he officially begins the the BBA is a business networking group job July 1, he said. known for hosting prominent speakers The organizational change was praised throughout the year. by leaders of the various organizations. The groups have launched a joint web“All of our organizations share a comsite promoting the neighborhood at buckmon vision to make Buckhead the most headATL.com. welcoming place to live, work, shop, dine, In another tightening of the relationvisit and play,” said Ellis in the press release. ships, the Buckhead Coalition board will “No one can quite articulate that vision like have ex officio positions for the Buckhead Sam Massell, but with four organizations CID board chair, currently Thad Ellis, who committed to acting and speaking with a is a senior vice president at the real estate more unified voice, we are excited about firm Cousins Properties; and the Livable the ongoing vibrancy of Buckhead.” Buckhead board chair, currently Bob Ston“Each organization brings unique er, a retired real estate professional. In adstrengths to this exciting new working redition, Starling will be involved in Bucklationship,” said Stoner in the press release. head Coalition board meetings “to ensure “The whole is definitely going to be greater alignment and to foster cooperation and than the sum of its parts.” communication,” according to a press re“I am excited about this new arrangelease. The board already had an ex officio ment — it is a great next step for Buckhead position for the BBA president, currently and I look forward to having better coordi-
nation and collaboration between all of the organizations!” said Starling in an email. Thiry praised Massell’s “decades of leadership” and said the BBA looks forward to working with Durrett in the new role. “The Buckhead Business Association, The Buckhead Coalition, Buckhead CID and Livable Buckhead have always had a great relationship and interest in supporting each other,” Thiry said in an email. “Going forward, we will do so in a much more intentional fashion. The collaboration will provide efficiencies and opportunities. All four organizations have done a great job independently for years, and together will continue to serve the needs of the citizens and businesses of our great community.” “Sam Massell is a singular figure whose impact on Buckhead and the city of Atlanta simply cannot be replicated,” said Joe Evans, chair of the Buckhead Coalition board, in the press release. “His retirement after 32 years led us to step back and evaluate how best to marshal our collective resources in a way that builds on his legacy. We are thrilled to forge a deeper bond with the Buckhead CID, Livable Buckhead and Buckhead Business Association.” For now, the Buckhead Coalition staff will share the Livable Buckhead/CID offices on the 16th Floor of the Tower Place skyscraper, where the Coalition was already headquartered. Eventually, according to Starling, all of the combined staff will move into a new headquarters originally planned for Livable Buckhead in an unused courtyard atop the AMC Dine-In Buckhead 6 theater in the complex at Piedmont Road and Tower Place Drive. That custom-built headquarters is intended to be more accessible. Its opening was delayed by the pandemic, but the groups hope to move there in early 2021, Starling said.
CID says it supports Black Lives Matter movement BY JOHN RUCH email@example.com
The Buckhead Community Improvement District staff and board of directors said in a June 24 newsletter it “supports the Black Lives Matter movement” — a notable declaration from some of Atlanta’s most powerful figures in real estate and policing. The statement said the CID “stands in solidarity with peaceful protesters in Atlanta, across the country and around the globe who are pushing for an end to racial injustice.” The CID is a self-taxing group of commercial property owners in the central business area who pay for transportation, public safety and beautification programs, including expansions of the Atlanta Police Department surveillance camera network and private police patrols. Its all-White board of directors includes City Councilmember Howard Shook and Robin Loudermilk, an influential develop-
er who chairs the board of the Atlanta Police Foundation, which provides support to the Atlanta Police Department. Also on the board are representatives of major companies that own some properties damaged in looting that followed the first night of largely peaceful George Floyd protests in Downtown Atlanta last month. They include Robin Suggs, general manager of the Phipps Plaza mall, which was infamously looted, and Lenox Square mall, which was fortified by police and the National Guard. Executive Director Jim Durrett, who heads the CID’s currently all-White staff, said in an email that no specific changes in the way the group does business are yet planned. “I can’t visualize yet how the CID’s work might change, but we felt compelled to make a statement, to say that we accept responsibility for doing our part to address the existence and the effects of systemic racism in our society,” Durrett said. “I intend to be sure that my staff and I, and our
boards, begin with a personal commitment to anti-racism, that we monitor our behaviors and hold each other accountable.” Shook said he was unaware of the statement and could not immediately comment on it. Also on June 24, Durrett was announced as the new president of the Buckhead Coalition, another influential community organization, with the two groups to operate with merged staffs. The Black Lives Matter movement, which calls for reforms to halt police and vigilante killings of black people, began as a social media campaign after the 2013 acquittal verdict of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida. It gained prominence in the nationwide protests that followed the 2014 police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City. The movement has been a prominent part of the current national protests that followed last month’s police killing of Floyd in Min-
nesota. The CID’s full statement reads as follows and was delivered under the headline, “Buckhead CID Staff and Board of Directors Supports the Black Lives Matter Movement”: “The Buckhead Community Improvement District stands in solidarity with peaceful protesters in Atlanta, across the country and around the globe who are pushing for an end to racial injustice. “Since our establishment almost 21 years ago, we have worked to create and maintain a safe, accessible and livable urban environment for all. Our mission will not waiver. “But it’s clear that we have a long way to go. We don’t know the exact path forward, but we know that it requires listening to Black and Brown voices and others among us who have been marginalized. All of us can do better, and all of us must do better — together.”
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