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)
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.)
Dani Atlanta, Daniel Hanley and many others convened by Democracy Spring appealed to the Georgia electors' consciences Dec. 19 as they cast their votes for our president at the state capitol. Just the start of our resistance to the Trump reich. . .
Stay tuned. (Photos: Steve Eberhardt)
Some 75 DSA members, prospective members and friends enjoyed refreshments and fellowship at our "Holiday Party and Post-Election Connection" Dec. 16 in the First Existentialist Congregation sanctuary. MADSA Chair Milt Tambor reviewed our recent membership growth and introduced contact people for our working groups, inspiring many to sign up to participate. See photo at right: (l to r) Labor - Adam Cardo and - not shown - Eric Robertson; Action - Daniel Hanley; LGBTQ Issues - Travis Reid and - not shown - Barbara Segal; Social Media - Barbara Joye; and Political Education - Ray Miklethun. A new group on women's issues is also in formation. (For more info on working groups, come to our Jan. 15 Socialist Dialogue - see Calendar.)
We heard from Neil Sardana of Atlanta Jobs with Justice about that important coalition. Dougie "the Abolitionist" Hanson (see photo, left) gave a rousing call for resistance (and to tune in to his Saturday radio program, "Voices of Dissent," on WIGO). Adam Cardo promoted the Jacobin Reading Group. Milt announced a Jan. 7 fundraiser for Sen. Vincent Fort's mayoral race (Sen. Fort later joined the party). We especially enjoyed getting to know new members and friends, building the community that we will surely need in the coming months and years. (Photos: Reid Freeman Jenkins)
Dozens of friends and comrades of Eduard Loring and Murphy Davis filled the fellowship hall at Wheat St. Baptist Church Dec. 13 for a “profound thank-you” luncheon to give the founders of the Open Door Community a send-off as they prepare to close the ODC and move to Baltimore in January.
They provided MADSA with a home and meeting place for five years (Ed is a MADSA member), and distinguished themselves at the forefront of services and advocacy for Atlanta’s poor and homeless and with their prison ministry that included accompanying death row inmates and opposing the death penalty. They fought for decades for affordable housing, healthcare for all, and many other human rights issues. See Raising Our Voices, Breaking the Chain by Terry Easton, about the occupation of the Imperial Hotel. Ed and Murphy will be sorely missed. (Photos: Reid Freeman Jenkins)
In coordination with "National Day of Disruption" actions throughout the country, Atlantans demonstrated on Nov. 29 for a living wage of $15/hr and a union for low-income workers employed in jobs such as fast food, home care, and airport services. The day started with a 6 a.m. "strike line and pray-in" by clergy that State Sen. Vincent Fort (who attended all the Atlanta actions) called "very successful." A spirited group of about 50 led by Atlanta Raise Up, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Teamster Local 728 and others demonstrated at the Atlanta airport at mid-day but were aggressively dispersed by police after only eight minutes. Some 100 regrouped on Ponce DeLeon Ave. that evening, energized by drummers from the Carver High School band. Marchers who had assembled at the Open Door Community and the "Murder Kroger" parking lot converged and proceeded down the avenue to a nearby McDonalds, where 15 people were arrested for sitting down at the entrance, including a legal observer and one man carrying an IWW flag who said he had been obeying police orders to stay on the sidewalk. MADSA members Eduard Loring of the Open Door and food service worker Dani Atlanta were among those arrested. Reuters reported "scores" arrested at similar actions in other cities. Atlanta Raise up posted: "We occupied space and let Atlanta and the world know that #PovertyWagesDontFly #FightFor15
A few MADSA members made our annual November pilgrimage to Ft. Benning in Columbus, GA to protest the School of the Americas, aka School of the Assassins (officially renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), which has trained Latin American army personnel for decades, including a significant number of death squad leaders, assassins of progressive priests and nuns - including Archbishop Romero of El Salvador - and perpetrators of massacres of civilians. Fr. Roy Bourgeois (honored by MADSA at last year's Douglass-Debs dinner), who organized the first action at the gates of the base in 1990, showed up in an ironic Uncle Sam suit (photo: Reid Jenkins). We joined other SOA Watch veterans and members of a caravan from Cleveland's Interreligious Task Force for Justice who also protested the cruel imprisonment of undocumented immigrants at the nearby Stewart Detention Center. We were a token group of a few dozen, because the main SOAWatch convergence had been moved to the border between Nogales TX and Nogales MX earlier this fall (attended by MADSA member Adrian Bernal, who will be reporting in our newsletter). Member Barbara Joye was quoted in the Columbus paper.
Supporters of the Standing Rock protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline marched from CNN Center to the headquarters of Suntrust Bank, one of many large banks that fund the pipeline - Atlanta's contribution to a nationwide day of protest. Led by a group of Native Americans and activists from the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human rights (at left, Eva Morales), the crowd of about 175 placed flowers and other offerings on a symbolic altar (at right, MADSA member Lorraine Fontana offers an apple), spoke out, and sang. When a bank spokesperson finally appeared, they handed him a letter asking the banks CEO William Rogers for a meeting. Other sponsoring organizations included the National Domestic Workers' Alliance (NDWA); We Dream in Black (NDWA Atlanta Chapter); Racial Justice Action Center; Solutions Not Punishment Coalition; The Ruckus Society; Trans(forming); and Women on the Rise. Photos: Reid Freeman Jenkins