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
(Editor's note: MADSA was an active member of Moral Monday GA in 2014-15, as we staged weekly rallies and civil disobedience to pressure the Georgia legislature on several key issues, including the necessity to expand Medicaid. Lorraine Fontana, author of this post excerpted from a longer report on her Facebook page, was among our members who participated and accepted arrest.)
For those of us hoping the Moral Monday Georgia coalition/movement would re-emerge, this was a hopeful event. Could this be the beginning of a re-boot of MMGA? Maybe.
The definite religious, faith-based underpinnings of this gathering (after all, it was a "revival") were on display as many clergy from various religions and spiritual traditions were on hand - either to speak or to be present for the consecration at the end of the revival. I myself call it a Love Fest, as that is what I felt was most present throughout the evening - in all its forms, and offered through words, music, movement, compassionate listening and responding, hugging and laying on of hands. . . .
The Rev. Barber, NAACP Board member and leader of the Moral Monday North Carolina movement, spoke with a basic intro to the meaning of the evening (photo by Steve Eberhardt). He stated his opinion (which many of us agree with) that the policies being passed in too many Southern (and other) legislatures are "morally indefensible, constitutionally inconsistent, and economically insane." He asked "hasn't someone been hurting our brothers and sisters far too long?"- YES!Read more
MADSA members have been busy, busy, busy for the past couple of weeks, so I'm posting a few photos to let you know what's been happening.
First, we enjoyed a very interesting Socialist Dialogue on April 24 on the topic of "The Precariat: Work Without Predictability or Security," a problem many in the audience recognized from first-hand experience. Education Committee Chair Ray Miklethun (far right) and moderator Steve Wise (second from right) introduced labor lawyer Debra Schwartz (second from left), who brilliantly summarized the state of workers' legal rights in the U.S. and in Georgia by stating "they suck" and supplying specifics. Child care worker, Fight for 15 and Black Lives Matter activist Dawn O'Neal (third from left) followed by eloquently reviewing the Fight for $15 and a Union and other aspects of current workers' struggles, and Teamster Local 728's Organizing Director Ben Speight shared many insights on organizing in the current political climate and the importance of a strong labor movement. (Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins)
The May Day/International Workers' Day festival organized by Atlanta Jobs with Justice and other labor and community groups - the first such event aiming to bring together Atlanta's progressive community on that historic date - drew a good crowd despite some showers. MADSA members staffed an information table and helped portray important U.S. labor leaders whose courage and persistence enabled many achievements we take for granted, such as the eight-hour day. (See Milt Tambor's essay on the history of May Day in the Spring Equality newsletter, posted on this website.) In the photo (by Lorraine Fontana): Bob "Big Bill Haywood" Wolhueter, Adrian "Cesar Chavez" Bernal and Judy "Mother Jones" Wolhueter.
Some MADSA members joined Rise Up, Black Lives Matter and other groups in a counter-demonstration protesting the rally called by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists on Stone Mountain April 23. Only a few dozen white supremacists showed up; the anti-racist side numbered at least 100, some say 400 (there was more than one gathering, in at least three locations). Some counter-demonstrators were arrested for wearing masks and one for allegedly throwing a smoke bomb at police. See Rise Up's excellent statement about the event, including a photo of Joel Solow and Daniel Hanley, at http://www.riseupga.org/time2escalate_statement . This photo, with Rise Up leader Nelini Stamp and Misty Novitch, thanks to Steve Eberhardt.
Several MADSA members made it downtown on April 14 for the "Fight for $15 and a Union" flashmob with spirited song, dance and chants at Ga. State U's Library Plaza, followed by a rally at the nearby Grady Hospital McDonalds. (L to R: Greg Ames, Barbara Joye, Steve Gill, Daniel Hanley. Photo by Reid Freeman Jenkins.) Member and ATL Raise Up organizer Joel Solow reported: "We stood with 300 cities and 40 countries all over the world, and if you want some serious inspiration, check out the #FightFor15 hashtag on twitter to see pictures and video from around the world."
Sergio of Freedom University was among the speakers expressing solidarity at the rally. (photo: Joel Solow)
On March 24 the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights held a rally at Liberty Plaza to demand an end to deportations that are tearing immigrant families apart and to oppose the anti-immigrant bills then before the General Assembly. Barbara Joye joined other allies who spoke in support, representing MADSA. Click on "read more" to see what she said. (Photo: Gloria Tatum)Read more
Gov. Nathan Deal has announced that he will veto the so-called "Religious Liberty" bill passed by the Georgia General Assembly, after a tsunami of business and community protest against the bill for its obvious intent to enable discrimination against LGBT people. The MADSA LGBT and Allies committee had sent a letter urging the veto, signed by our officers, which became a petition. We are proud that we could contribute our bit to this victory. Many more struggles to come! To see the text of the letter, click on "read more." (Photo by Reid Freeman Jenkins was taken at the 2015 Atlanta Pride march.)Read more
(Photo: Peace by Piece staff tell us about their new community center for Peoplestown youth.)
On March 19, some 40 MADSA members and friends, including students and professors from five area universities (Ga. State, Ga. Tech, Clayton State, Emory and Clark Atlanta), drew inspiration from and expressed solidarity with inner-city Atlanta residents who are resisting displacement by gentrification and stadium development.“Resilience, Tenacity and Self-Determination in Peoplestown, Mechanicsville, Pittsburgh and Summerhill” was the fifth annual bus tour of troubled neighborhoods sponsored by MADSA. Co-sponsors were Occupy Our Homes Atlanta (OOHA) and the Peoplestown Revitalization Corporation (PRC, #peoplestownwillnotgodown).
PRC President Columbus Ward and OOHA’s Tim Franzen provided background and accompanied the buses to meetings with neighborhood activists. The tours were initiated and are coordinated by Georgia Tech Professor Emeritus and MADSA member Larry Keating, author of an excellent survey of the devastation wrought on Atlanta’s black inner-city neighborhoods in recent decades: Race, Class and Urban Expansion. MADSA is an endorser and supporter of the Turner Fields Community Benefits Coalition, which represents the neighborhoods affected by the new stadium development.Read more