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
(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.