MADSA’s membership meeting Sept. 24 was one of our most inspiring. We heard recollections of the Open Door Community (ODC)-led 1990 occupation of the then-abandoned Imperial Hotel, which resulted in the re-opening of the hotel for homeless people and other gains in affordable housing. Historian Charles Steffens called it “one of the most dramatic street actions in Atlanta since the student-led civil rights protests of the 1960s.” The main speaker, Terry Easton, author of Raising Our Voices, Breaking the Chain: The Imperial Hotel Occupation as Prophetic Politics, was joined by ODC founders MADSA member Ed Loring and Murphy Davis, other veterans of the occupation, and ODC board and community members. See the Summer 2016 MADSA newsletter “Equality”, posted on this website, for an article by Easton. For a copy of his book ($10 donation), contact the ODC.
Following the general discussion, MADSA members present elected officers for 2016-2017: Chair Milt Tambor, Treasurer Travis Reid, Membership Secretary Barbara Segal, Recording Secretary Barbara Joye and members t-large Adam Cardo, Cecily McMillan, and Eric Robertson. Thanks to Nomination Chair Bob Caine and outgoing officers Daniel Hanley and Greg Ames. We continue to explore ways to develop new leadership to help us grow in the years to come.
An estimated 1,000 Atlantans led by the Georgia NAACP, Black Lives Matter, #stopkillingus and allied organizations quickly organized Sept. 23 to demonstrate downtown in solidarity with the protests against police killings of Keith Scott in Charlotte, NC and Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, OK. (Crowd estimate from Atlanta Progressive News.) They marched from the Center for Civil and Human Rights to the King Center and from there to the Atlanta Police Department and jail, where to the approving flicker of lights from the cell windows they assembled peacefully until midnight for a “Midnight in America” rally. Protests continue. Above, center with DSA shirt and sign: Daniel Hanley; for right with sign, Megan Harrison. Photo: Steve Eberhardt
Members of Georgia Raise Up, Moral Monday Georgia, MADSA, the NAACP and other organizations demonstrated at our State Capitol during a National Day of Action on Monday, Sept. 12, called by Rev. William Barber's Moral Monday movement.
People of faith, workers and community activists gathered at state capitols in 25 states to deliver the “Higher Ground Moral Declaration,” which calls on governors, senators, state legislators, and candidates for office to move away from extremist politics and policies that benefit the few and move toward policies and laws that are just and fair and guarantee a better life for the majority of the people.
Lorraine Fontana (holding sign) and Ann Mauney (arm raised) were among the MADSA members who marched from Trinity Methodist Church to Liberty Plaza for a rally before a delegation delivered the Declaration to Governor Deal's office. (Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins)Read more
MADSA members celebrated Labor Day with our union brothers and sisters at the Georgia AFL-CIO's annual Labor Day picnic. Here, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) member Al Herman (left) and State Sen. Vincent Fort (right) check out the MADSA table, staffed by (left to right) Adam Cardo, Barbara Joye and Milt Tambor. (Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins)
On Saturday night, Aug.13, the Music Room, a popular venue on the trendy Edgewood Ave. strip in the Old Fourth Ward, hosted MADSA's party to celebrate member Cecily McMillan's new book and benefit the Georgia Civil Disobedience Fund.
The Emancipation of Cecily McMillan, an American Memoir (Nation Books) describes the author's difficult childhood growing up in Atlanta and Texas, her struggle to get an education, her Occupy Wall St. activism and the three months she spent in NYC's notorious Rikers Island Prison following an OWS-related arrest - which inspired her to become a fervent advocate for prisoners' rights. The event raised $1,100 for the Fund, which pays bail and legal expenses for people arrested while nonviolently protesting for justice.
Thanks to A Capella for selling many copies of the book, signed by Cecily (far left in photo), who also read passages and engaged the packed audience in a Q and A, and to the outstanding musicians who performed for us following the reading (Feat, RAHBI, Hero the Band, Loner, The Queedom and Shalom Little). Special thanks to MADSA supporters Johnnie Martinez and Brandon Ley, owners of the Joystick Game Bar and the new Georgia Beer Garden, and to Keiran Neely, owner of the Music Room who made his club available to us so generously after our first host, the Beer Garden, met with a last-minute delay of its long-anticipated opening.
The following afternoon, at the Decatur Recreation Center, we screened "She's Beautiful When She's Angry," an inspiring documentary about the 1960's Women's Liberation Movement. Betsey Miklethun, a veteran of the movement, introduced the film and Megan Harrison, a young law student, responded afterwards - pointing out, among other things, how much the film could have added had it brought the story up to the present. The audience, which included people of diverse ages, races and genders, enjoyed participating in the discussion.
Check out the calendar on this web page for future events designed to keep you plugged into activism in our area and important issues and questions facing the movement for a more just society. We are planning a special October meeting geared to welcoming new and prospective members interested in learning about democratic socialism and what our group does.
Adam Cardo, founder of Emory U. Young Democratic Socialists, a MADSA officer and member of the national DSA Anti-Racism Working Group, and Dave Littman, founder of U. GA YDS, represented us at the summer YDS conference "From Sanders to the Grassroots" Aug. 5-7 in Chevy Chase, MD. Dave led a workshop on environmental socialism at the conference. Details here.
At a July 16 gathering at the Mammal Gallery in downtown Atlanta, roughly 50 Bernie delegates, alternates, and supporters discussed plans to assert Bernie's platform at the convention, protest a rigged primary process, and bring the momentum of Bernie's political revolution home to local and state campaigns, both electoral and issue-oriented. Bernie alternate Khalid Kamau shared his plans for a CWA-funded t-shirt initiative (see photo), highlighting four areas of the Democratic platform where strategic visibility on the convention floor would be crucial, especially considering the expected suppression of Bernie delegates and confiscation of unapproved signs -- which turned out to be even more intense, violently enforced, and broadly coordinated than anticipated.
One Metro Atlanta DSA member (who authored this blog post) also announced plans to caravan to Philadelphia with at least a dozen other Atlantans for the purpose of expressing dissatisfaction and outrage towards the anti-democratic nomination process that gave general election voters the two least popular options in decades, both largely in opposition to the popular social and economic justice platform advanced by Bernie Sanders.
Bernie's delegation from Atlanta, reportedly one of the most militantly irreverent groups in attendance, shared first-hand accounts of harassment, dismissal, and even physical abuse towards Bernie delegates from Georgia and elsewhere around the country. DNC security threatened to revoke the credentials of anyone who might dispel the illusion of party unity. One member of the Georgia delegation, expressing grief at an emotional moment, was struck by a laughing Clinton delegate's cane. In one widely-circulated video, Democratic Party of Georgia chair DuBose Porter, his sons, and Clinton delegate Will Fowlkes are seen deliberately blocking several Bernie delegates with large signs (https://www.facebook.com/nusaibabaker/videos/10209917493796594/). One Atlanta delegate confirmed that Clinton delegates were given written instructions to drown out any dissenting issue-oriented chants (for a living wage or against the TPP, for instance) with Hillary-oriented chants.
July has brought a wave of outrage and mourning over the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of police, following many others local and national – Anthony Hill, Kevin Davis, Nick Thomas, Alexia Christian, to name a few, and many who remain unknown to the public – as well as sorrow for the killing of five policemen by a lone gunman in Dallas. “We want to end a race war, not start one,” read one protester’s sign. (Photo: Steve Eberhardt. Here, Friday's march led by Ga. NAACP President Rev.Francys Johnson and others.)
Five days of unrelentingly energetic and massive rallies and marches (from 1,000 to 10,000 participants) in public spaces including Centennial Park, Lenox Square (at right) and the governor’s mansion, as well as street blockages, resulted in Mayor Kasim Reed agreeing to meet with protest leaders n July 18. Organizers included Black Lives Matter, Rise Up GA, Malcom X Grassroots Movement, Atlanta University Center Shut It Down, Atlanta Black Students United, Fight for $15, Southerners on New Ground, Freedom University, the NAACP and Standing Up for Racial Justice. (Photo: Steve Eberhardt)
Five MADSA members were among some 3,000 activists from more than 40 organizations that support Bernie Sanders' campaign who came together in Chicago June 17-19 for the People's Summit - a weekend of networking, workshops and inspiring speakers, with a view to taking the "people's revolution" to the next level. One hundred DSA members attended, and a report will be posted soon on dsausa.org.
See the MADSA Facebook page for videos, photos and summaries of many of the presentations (thanks, Daniel!). Here are some highlights. Photo: Daniel Hanley, Lord Megan Harrison, Barbara Joye, Cecily McMillan, Adam Cardo. Not shown: David Littman.
National Nurses United (NNU) chair RoseAnn DeMoro told us that our struggles are connected, and we must not work in isolation, but turn out -- not just online, but in communities and in the streets -- for one another's causes. NNU, a major Bernie supporter from the labor movement, was the leading organizer and funder of the Summit.
At a regional break-out session, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi activists discussed our strategies for carrying the political revolution forward and supporting each other's struggles. Here, Yvette Carnell, Atlantan and founder of http://www.breakingbrown.com, offers her insightful perspective and requests support for her media work.
(By Barbara Joye and Lorraine Fontana)
MADSA’s latest membership meeting at the Open Door Community (ODC) featured several reports from our members and friends on some of the current activism that we support.
Ed Loring, ODC founder, opened by reading a letter announcing that the ODC will be selling its building by the end of the year, though their services to the homeless will continue to Martin Luther King’s birthday, Jan. 2017. We have greatly benefited from the hospitality and comradeship that Ed and the community have extended to us for years, so this was very sad news.
We next heard from sister Alison Johnson of the Housing Justice League, which is preserving affordable housing and preventing displacement from gentrification in neighborhoods like Peoplestown. MADSA members Tim Franzen, Greg Ames and others helped launch the League, formerly Occupy Our Homes Atlanta. See the spring issue of "Equality" for a related story. (Photo, right: Lorraine Fontana)
Sister Minnie Ruffin presented a packet of information and an expert explanation of the upcoming Opportunity School District (OSD) ballot initiative that we are urging everyone to vote against. It’s a takeover of Atlanta public schools, deceptively worded (Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins).Read more