On March 19 our second Democratic Socialist Dialogue of the quarter focused on resistance on many levels: In the electoral arena, with mayoral candidate and long-time friend of MADSA Sen. Vincent Fort; against racism and xenophobia, with Adelina Nicholls, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights; Asma Elhuni, Council on American Islamic Relations; and Elise Cohen, Jewish Voice for Peace; and MADSA’s Daniel Hanley sharing his vision for socialism and his experience organizing a workplace campaign to petition the CEO of IBM to leave President Trump’s economic council.
Over 50 people attended, including many new faces, and our Social Media team livestreamed the event.
As a community, we protested outside of the Atlanta Immigration Court March 11 to demonstrate our resistance and demand that the cities and counties we live in stop supporting Trump’s agenda by refusing to use its resources to assist in the deportation of our immigrant communities, by ceasing to detain immigrants for ICE in the Atlanta City Detention Center, and by repealing city ordinances that provide the base for “Broken Windows” policing.
This was a Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)-sponsored event, with speakers from some of the organizations led by people of color working on immigration rights here in Georgia: Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR); Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR Georgia); Project South; Jewish Voice for Peace. - Lorraine Fontana
(Photos: At right, Minnie Ruffin with sign, by Lorraine Fontana; at left, other MADSA members who joined the demonstration, by Steve Eberhardt)
Late February has been hectic, with protests on many fronts continuing throughout the Atlanta area. MADSA members and their friends joined a Showing Up for Racial Justice anti-Trump march Feb. 18; were among some 800 marching from Midtown to Lenox Square on “Not My President Day” Feb. 20; took part in the 1,000-strong march from Midtown to Woodruff/Troy Davis Park Feb. 25 to save healthcare; and no doubt were present at other rallies and some “shaming” events at the hangouts of our elected officials – or at least their staffs.
Adam Cardo; Khalil Kamau; Matthew Wolfsen and Karl Grindal from Ga. Tech; and David Littman from Athens traveled to New York for the Young Democratic Socialists' winter conference, which was bigger and better than ever.
(Photo: Adam Cardo).
When the Democratic National Committee came to our town the last weekend in February, several of our members joined an effort by the progressive wing of the party to elect Bernie supporter Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota chair. Props to Teamster Local 728’s Eric Robertson, who provided an opportunity for us to meet Charles Lenchner, co-founder of People for Bernie and a Brooklyn DSA member, among other comrades from all around the country who came to engage in the struggle at the downtown Westin Hotel (see photo).
Daniel Hanley and Evan O’Reilly called on us to join them early Saturday morning as the last skirmishes began. The corporate wing of the party prevailed in the end – with Thomas Perez, the victor, quickly making a gesture to the rest of us by appointing Ellison his deputy chair - but the fight isn’t over, as the following commentaries remind us.
In DSA we believe that to be effective, we must combine action with reflection - theory as well as practice. To help new members understand democratic socialism and to refresh long-term members' thinking about our values and analysis, the Education working group, headed by Ray Miklethun, launched a 5-week study group based on Jacobin magazine's booklet "The ABCs of Socialism," an anthology of short articles including several by DSA members. About 40 people signed up, too many to fit in one room, so the introductory session broke into two groups: one led by Minnie Ruffin (foreground, left) is shown here (photo by Reid Freeman Jenkins). We shared our very diverse stories of how we became politically active and what socialism means to us. Next week: Discussion based on reading assignments. To join: email@example.com.
More than 80 people crowded into our meeting space at the Open Door Community (ODC) Feb. 11. A majority were new and potential members. We are looking for a larger space for our April meeting. (Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins)
After ODC founder and MADSA member Ed Loring gave a heartfelt farewell (he and others are closing ODC and moving to Baltimore), Hank Stewart read an inspiring poem, “Don't Stop in a Storm,” clearly a metaphor for our challenge in the current political situation. Then, several of our members and allies reported on our activities and opportunities for local activism:
- Ruth Ann Thomas of the Atlanta Jobs with Justice coalition alerted us to Economic Justice Day at the Georgia Capitol, 10 am, Wed. Feb. 15, and plans for Atlanta's second annual May Day/International Workers Day festival Sun. April 30, followed by an action (to be determined) May 1. Volunteers are needed (contact Barbara@freejoye.com).
- Ayketa Iverson, national recruitment coordinator for the AFL-CIO Organizing Department, invited applications for union organizer jobs. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-766-5050.
- Justin Howell, deputy director for the International Rescue Committee’s Atlanta branch, described IRC’s efforts to help refugees, and the recent outpouring of community support.
- Larry Keating invited us to sign up now for “Gentrification and Equity,” the sixth annual bus and study tour of inner city neighborhoods threatened by gentrification and stadium development, March 25. We will meet with community organizers and experts for an in-depth look at what is happening to our city and the neighborhood resistance, followed by an optional action. For program details and to sign up click here.
- Two speakers highlighted important local electoral campaigns: Joe Corrado updated us on Sen. Vincent Fort’s campaign to become Atlanta’s most progressive mayor. A campaign party will take place at the Georgia Beer Garden at 7 pm, Wed. Feb. 15. MADSA member Khalid Kamau is running for a council seat in the new City of South Fulton on a very progressive platform and needs volunteer canvassers ASAP, as early voting for the March 21 election begins Feb. 27. South Fulton is the second largest city in Georgia, with the sixth largest population. Go to www.khalidCares.com
- Barbara Segal and Barbara Joye reported on the Jan. 20 “People’s Inauguration,” the first in a series of actions by the new Georgia J20 coalition to protect the human rights of vulnerable populations, demanding that our city government declare Atlanta a sanctuary city and meet 19 specific demands. As of Feb. 11, Mayor Kasim Reed had not responded to the 500 demonstrators who presented the demands on Inauguration Day. See story and photos below; for the demands and list of member organizations click here.
- Adam Cardo coordinates the Jacobin Reading Group, which holds discussions based on current articles and topics from the popular Jacobin magazine. For date, topic and place of the next meeting contact: email@example.com.
- Ray Miklethun, coordinator of MADSA’s Education Working Group, announced a new 5-week study group based on Jacobin's short anthology “The ABC’s of Socialism,” and our upcoming Democratic Socialist Dialogues (see calendar).
- Daniel Hanley reported on his courageous efforts to organize his co-workers at IBM to oppose their CEO’s membership on Trump’s business council, which contradicts the company’s official values of inclusiveness and respect for immigrants and LGBTQ people. The petition currently has 2000 signatures. (See Daniel quoted here in the NYTimes Feb. 13!)
- Dave Hayward invited us to the third annual “Our Founding Valentines” celebration of Atlanta’s LGBTQ pioneers, 6:30-9 pm, Wed. Feb. 15, at Out Front Theater, 999 Brady Ave., Atlanta 30318.
- Finally, Reid Jenkins shared the sad news that President Obama denied clemency to long-time American Indian political prisoner Leonard Peltier. For info on Peltier's case (previous to the denial) click here.
The busy day started with a demonstration of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux protest against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) that threatens a major water source and sacred sites. A crowd of about 500, including MADSA members Dani Atlanta, Barbara Joye, Daniel Hanley and Reid Jenkins, marched from a rally at Piedmont Park to another at the North Ave. MARTA station. Sierra Club lobbyist Neill Herring reminded us that the Sabal Trail pipeline under construction through our state will take gas from fracking in Alabama to Florida so utilities can compete with solar energy. Marchers pledged to continue pressure on elected officials on these and other issues. #AtlAgainstPipelines
Later, several thousand Atlantans massed and chanted for two hours in front of the south terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, protesting Trump's executive order excluding all refugees and banning citizens of seven Muslim countries from entering the U.S. Many MADSA members took part, dispersed among the crowd.The protesters carried a great variety of mostly handmade signs, ranging from irate to humorous.
"[I'm] so happy to see the increased social activism this catastrophe of an election has created," said MADSA member Lorraine Fontana in a Facebook post. ". . .This was one of the most diverse demos I'd been to re age, gender, race and nationality."
(Photos: Reid Freeman Jenkins)
MADSA members report back:
ATLANTA - Undeterred by an early afternoon downpour, at least 60,000 people turned out to show their support for social justice and women, as well as their opposition to incoming President Donald Trump and his agenda. Some media reports place the number of participants higher. Whatever the final number, it’s certainly in the running for one of the largest, if not the largest, protests to ever take place in Atlanta. In any case, it was a terrific crowd. (Photo above: Eric Robertson. Georgia NAACP President Francys Johnson addresses the crowd. Photo at right: Ashley Earles-Bennett)
Prior to stepping off, the crowd was revved up by Rep. John Lewis: “I know something about marching. We have a moral obligation to fight and never lose hope. We must vote like we never have before. . . I’m fired up! I’m ready to march! I have on my marching shoes. Let’s do it!”
Meanwhile, in an apparent attempt to shift media attention from the stunning popular repudiation of his agenda demonstrated by protest marches across the country, newly minted President Trump attacked the media, both directly and through his press secretary Sean Spicer. In a series of false allegations, Spicer accused Journalists of intentionally underestimating the crowds at President Trump’s inauguration in order to undermine him, a charge that the president himself echoed.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution carried a live feed of the march on its website throughout the afternoon.
One reason this march was so huge is because it drew people from all across North Georgia. I know because my sister-in-law and my two nieces all traveled from Athens to join the march! Avanti!
By Walter Reeves (originally posted on Daily Kos)
The March for Social Justice and Women in Atlanta was HUGE, 60,000 plus. But it wasn't the largest demonstration in Atlanta in recent history. I was there on April 19, 2006 when between 60-80,000 marched on Buford Highway organized by the Alianza de 17 de Marzo (GLAHR). Just didn't want for a second to overlook the leadership role played by the immigrants rights movement in GA for many years in showing the rest of us how to lead mass demonstrations and how to sustain grassroots organizing.
Ben Speight (comment on Facebook)
(Michelle Fisher, co-chair, Wesleyan DSA, holds up sign in Atlanta march. Photographer unknown)Read more
Some 500 people of all backgrounds and ages took to the streets for a "people's inauguration" organized by the recently-formed Georgia J20 coalition of progressive grassroots organizations led by communities most likely to be impacted by the incoming Trump administration - but long-suffering from oppressive and discriminatory policies on the state and local level as well.
We marched to the Atlanta City Hall and sent a delegation to present Mayor Kasim Reed with the coalition's list of 19 specific demands for policies and programs to protect the human rights of immigrants, religious minorities, LGBTQ people, workers, homeless people and people being displaced by gentrification, to make Atlanta a "sanctuary city" in deed as well as word.
Naturally, Metro Atlanta DSA is a member of the coalition; some 20 of our members participated in the march and rally, which were led mainly by women of color from several organizations such as Southerners for New Ground, Project South, and the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR). Barbara Segal and Barbara Joye represented MADSA in the delegation to the mayor's office. Reed's representative promised that the coalition would receive a written response in seven to 10 days (we'll see). The demands and full list of member organizations can be found at https://gaj20.wordpress.com/our-demands-2/ (Photos: Reid Freeman Jenkins, Brandon Mishaw and Steve Eberhardt)
Our very successful Jan. 15 Socialist Dialogue opened the new year and the MLK weekend with the help of a panel of young Atlanta activists from the movement for Black lives. Avery Jackson of Atlanta is Ready (standing in photo at left); Eva Dickerson of AUC Shut it Down (seated); and Asia Parks of Rise Up Georgia addressed an enthusiastic standing-room-only crowd.
The speakers reminded us of the ongoing racism of the U.S. regardless of whether Obama or Trump is in the White House, and described how they navigate the tensions between their generation of activists and old guard civil rights leaders, churches and university administrators, and they gave resounding thanks to their parents and other family members who helped them become the strong leaders they are today. They also gave advice to white allies who want to fight racism - "We can't do all we have to do and help you too. You have to do it."
Jackson asked us to consider asking the following questions as we celebrate MLK Day:
"1. what are your thoughts on the turner field deal that was signed without a CBA in the purchasing agreement? will you be testifying for a CBA on Tuesday at 12:30pm at City Council?
2. how are you honoring MLK's legacy by standing up against a black elite class that has officially sold vulnerable black communities to the mostly white private sector via neo-liberalism?
3. if MLK was growing up in the ATL of today he would likely be displaced. what would he have to say if he saw the conditions of our neighborhoods and the rapid redevelopment?"
On Inauguration Day, march from Woodruff/Troy Davis Park to Atlanta City Hall and rally for the liberation and safety of our communities with the Georgia J20 Coalition, a solidarity-building partnership of local grassroots organizations and networks, faith-based organizations, and labor unions, led by impacted communities. Demand that the city of Atlanta uphold its obligation and commitment to being a welcoming city to its diversity of residents, visitors and businesses and respect the human rights of all. For more info: https://www.facebook.com/events/369467400086579/ or call 770-457-5232. (MADSA is a coalition member.)