Several MADSA members turned out on a chilly morning to support the Grady H.S. students who walked out as part of the nation-wide protest demanding effective gun control legislation in the wake of the Parkland, FL massacre. It seemed that the whole school, including teachers and the principal, participated in the demonstration, which they held in the Grady sports stadium. After a moment of silence a few students gave brief, eloquent speeches and then the whole group marched around the track a few times before returning to classes, well beyond the announced 17 minutes. Barbara Joye, Reid Jenkins (the photographer), Evan Seed, Lisa Ashway, Lorraine Fontana, Cecelia Cantrell and Ann Mauney were there from MADSA; Cecelia, Lorraine, Ann and I are also members of Atlanta Grandmothers for Peace, which had brought many of the supporters.
N.B.: I just learned that a group of students told one of us as we left that they were refusing to return to class, protesting the takeover of their event by the liberal Grady administration (which had persuaded most of the students not to go off-campus) and saying the purpose of the walkout was to disrupt and that's what they wanted to do! Does anyone know what happened after that? - Barbara Joye
Community radio station WRFG (89.3FM) honored MADSA member Harlon Joye (R) at its 3rd annual Americana in the Park celebration, March 4 (award presented by Frank Hamilton, L). Joye is a former union staffer, sociologist, civil rights activist, WRFG founder and the station's first manager. His program "Fox's Minstrel Show" airs Sundays 7-10pm.
Above, MADSA sent this message of solidarity, joining DSA chapters across the country. (Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins.)
THEY WON! 5% raise for all W VA state employees! But -- state legislators are threatening to pay for the increase by cutting Medicaid and other necessary programs instead of various measures urged by the teachers which would not impact working and poor people.
DSA National Director Maria Svart had sent a message urging members to take a number of actions to support the strikers, which many of us did. She added: The West Virginia strike is inspiring teachers across the country to stand up for better conditions in schools. Are you a K-12 teacher? Sign up for the National DSA Teacher Network here.
February saw MADSA members and friends coming together to exchange a wide range of information about current issues and activism, and fire up several working groups.
On Feb. 18 the latest in our series of Democratic Socialist Dialogues featured (center in photo) MADSA officer Eric Robertson, political director of Teamster Local 728 and (left) Cullen "Georgia Slim" Brown of the Industrial Workers of the World, who filled us in on U.S. labor history and current challenges for organized labor, followed by dialogue among the panelists and attendees. (At their right: moderator Speck.) Next Dialogue will take place April 22, on immigration (details TBA, watch our calendar).
On Feb. 24 our now-monthly general membership meeting attracted about 40 of our members for a high-energy two hours (but we need more participation!).
- Nate Knauf (above left) reported on the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) conference (see story below) and his Georgia Tech YDSA chapter. (Good news: Cat, arrested during a protest against the Tech police who murdered her fellow campus activist Scout Shultz in September, is back on campus, with some charges dropped but still up for "disturbing the peace.")
- Officer Erin Parks (above, right) reported on two recent events launching MADSA's new Afro-Socialist group, the Black Power Bowl (scroll down for story) and a happy hour at a POC/LGBTQ-owned restaurant on Auburn Ave. Expect more news from this group!
- Parks also announced that our first Brake Light Clinic community service project was a success, fixing 41 cars so the drivers won't be pulled over and fined, thanks to lots of volunteer energy and community support. More clinics in various locations are being planned (scroll down for story and photos).
- Milt Tambor introduced Tamara Johnson-Shealey, candidate for State Senate District 40, who spoke to us about her hope to represent people in the southern parts of the district who have been ignored, as well as the northern section. (She has addressed us before - as have other candidates for state and local office.)
- After the presentations, some break-out groups followed up on proposals for improving our chapter's functioning: upgrading our internal electronic communications; updating our bylaws; and a national "Mobilizer" model to help us better connect with our new members.
- Other groups worked on plans for future activism, including our potential for involvement in local electoral activity this year; MADSA's participation in DSA's national Medicare for All campaign; future political education events; and relaunching our LBGTQI working group (see earlier posts on our participation in Atlanta's Pride festival).
- To connect with the leaders of any of these groups: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact any of our officers. Or, attend the next general membership meeting - even if you're not a member - March 24, following the Atlanta March for Our Lives (see our FB page).
Photos: Reid Freeman Jenkins
Mathew Wolfsen joined other Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) members from Georgia at the YDSA winter conference, held Feb. 16-18 in Washington D.C. Some 350 members from more than 80 schools attended. Matthew and six others came from Ga Tech, with two recent Tech graduates, a recent Emory U. graduate and one student each from U. Ga. and U. of West Ga. During the long ride home, he sent this report. – Editor
The conference was what student activists needed. There was very clearly a stronger focus on praxis over theory: How to organize. How to branch. How to cultivate leaders. It didn’t shove theory forward. It enabled students to carry out their own politics. I loved that.
It brought real and controversial issues forward in a space that was safe for critical but fruitful and friendly discussion. With the exception of one situation that was almost entirely laughed off, no one was overtly confrontational, but rather collaborative. And, it allowed time for networking. For example, I met individuals from Colorado, West Virginia, and Indiana who I plan to keep up with.
Several Ga Tech students who were involved with the activism related to Scout Schultz’s death [at the hands of campus police] came to the conference to learn how to be more effective with their actions. In a panel about students unionizing against the administration and student government (photo, right), the panelists asked two of the Ga Tech students about the backlash they faced in organizing for a cause, and were completely shocked when they heard what they had to deal with. Other students from Pittsburgh, Savannah, Chattanooga, and San Antonio pledged their support and some even promised to travel to Atlanta to help if needed.
Overall, the conference struck a nice balance in programming with a clearly organized goal of empowering students. I enjoyed my time in DC, and I won’t forget it anytime soon. - Matthew Wolfsen
Editor's Note: According to the Washington Post, after NRA CEO Wayne LePierre warned attendees at the Conservative PAC's conference about YDSA's 100 campus chapters, our national YDSA co-chair Michelle Fisher responded: “The real red scare is the tide of blood the NRA and their lap dogs in Congress have brought to our schools. [We’re] growing because people across the country have had enough of corrupt politicians sacrificing the lives of children for the NRA’s freedom to profit. They buy their power, we build ours.”
Amazing day at our first brake light clinic! We changed over 40 people's lights and even picked up some new members. Thanks to all the awesome comrades involved in planning, fundraising, implementation and day-of work! And thanks to manager Watson of the Ingles store, who welcomed us warmly and even offered to bring us water.
More to come! - Jeb Boone and Barbara JoyeRead more
The MADSA Afro-Socialists' first event, the Black Power Bowl, drew this great crowd to a get-together at the Phillip Rush Center, Feb. 4. Attendees included South Fulton Councilman khalid kamau; MADSA officer Erin Parks; BLM and Rise Up activist Dawn O'Neal; attorney and Atlanta NAACP Vice-President Gerald Griggs; attorney and political commentator Anoa Changa; and representatives of several other organizations, educators, and small business owners. The group came together for a moment of fellowship and trivia fun. Councilman khalid explained on FB: "#SuperBowl quarterback with a multimillion-dollar #NFL contract, took a knee — not just for a game, but an entire season — and brought a national conversation about police brutality and the #BlackLivesMatter movement into the homes of Americans desperate to avoid it. And when the NFL, in retaliation, stripped him of his career, it sparked an #NFLBoycott that cost the league 2 MILLION viewers. Around the country, #NFLBlackOut parties & protests are creating networks of new activists."
Stay tuned for an announcement of our first Afro-Socialist Happy Hour! Date and location TBA.
Since 1987, Atlanta Jobs with Justice has been working as a coalition with progressive grassroots leaders across Atlanta, bringing together labor unions, community based organizations, faith based organizations, youth organizations, and individuals to lead and support campaigns for economic and social justice in our workplaces and in our communities. MADSA helped revitalize the organization after a period of transition about 10 years ago and has been a member of the coalition ever since.
On Jan. 30, MADSA members helped celebrate AJwJ's move to a new office at 420 McDonough Blvd. Coalition members announced our plans for the new year and heard about AJwJ's campaigns, including Vote With Justice, which alerts Atlantans to what's at stake in the fall elections; raising Georgia's minimum wage; expanding Medicaid; and stopping the profiling, detention and deportation of immigrants. For more info and a calendar of AJwJ events: atlantajwj.org. (L to R: Logos from AJwJ member organizations; AJwJ staff organizers Chartisia Griffin and Dee Dee Lay. Photos: Erin Parks.)
(This is a POC space only.) MADSA AfroSocialists are calling for NFL boycotters, freedom fighters, POC activists and organizers to join us for an evening of libations, celebration, and liberation as we close out this year's NFL boycott with the 1st annual Black Power Bowl. We will have members of many of metro Atlanta's leading black and POC grassroots organizations in attendance. This will be an opportunity to socialize with fellow movement builders and sign up to join the fight for racial justice.
WHERE: The event will take place in the Rush Center Annex: 358 Mell Ave., Suite B, Atlanta 30307. (Not South Fulton)
RSVP through Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/black-power-bowl-tickets-42611884293
The financial and in-kind donations of our allies would be greatly appreciated. If you'd like to contribute, please contact Erin Parks at email@example.com or make a donation at https://paypal.me/pools/c/81pgPNWWZi
Watch this page for news of an AfroSocialist happy hour, coming soon!
Some 60 new, old and soon-to-be MADSA members met at the Communication Workers of America Local 3204 hall on Jan. 28 to launch our year of activism. (Photo: Nate Knauf) Following a new, faster-moving format, in the first hour we heard information on several current campaigns we support:
- Sara Patenaude of Hate Free Decatur reported recent progress in the fight to remove a Confederate monument from Decatur square (scroll down for story).
- Bert Skellie of End the New Jim Crow told us about the campaign to end cash bail.
- MADSA member Marshall Rancifer of the Justice for All Coalition updated us on his efforts to help homeless people survive the winter despite the cruel negligence of the City of Atlanta and Central Atlanta Progress (for more info or to help Marshall click here or 678-396-5768).
- Nate Knauf reported on the thriving new Young Democratic Socialists of America group at Ga. Tech, which is planning a campaign against police violence among other activities on and off campus.
- MADSA officer Erin Parks announced plans for our new Brake Light Clinic community service/solidarity project (see calendar for details) and the first gathering of the Atlanta Afro-Socialist caucus (details TBA).