MADSA joined others in yet another rally against the infamous "Lost Cause" monument in Decatur Square on Saturday, May 5. Member Daniel Hanley described the scene: "Liberation Lawyer Mawuli Davis, Beacon Hill Branch - NAACP, and Hate Free Decatur give ample credit to the young people and students leading the movement against symbols of white supremacy as well as institutional racism. Meanwhile, neoconfederate slavery enthusiasts heckle the youth calling for justice." At DSA's national convention, the Southern Caucus endorsed a "Tear Them Down" campaign. Photos: Daniel Hanley
A press release from Hate Free Decatur explained:
The DeKalb County commission, which owns the monument, voted to remove this symbol of white supremacy on January 23 but has not yet identified a new location for the monument. According to Mawuli Davis, President of the Beacon Hill NAACP Organizing Committee, "The refusal of other locations to take on this monument shows how successful educational outreach has been in spreading the true story of this white supremacist monument."
Coalition members have learned that the DeKalb County Commission will consider a proposal on Tuesday, May 8 to move the monument to another part of the square. Says Sara Patenaude, historian and co-founder of Hate Free Decatur, “the location of the monument on the courthouse square is just as much an expression of white supremacy as the words engraved on it.” . . .
The work to relocate the DeKalb confederate monument began last August, after the murder of Heather Heyer by white supremacists protesting the removal of a confederate monument in Charlottesville, VA. DeKalb activists gathered nearly 3,000 signatures calling for the removal of the Decatur monument, held a well-attended march in September 2017, and convened a community history panel in October 2017. The Decatur City Commission, which maintains the square where the monument is located, has also passed a resolution calling for its removal.
The DeKalb monument was erected in 1908, the same year Georgia passed a constitutional amendment denying black men the right to vote, and just two years after the white supremacist Atlanta race riots. A state law passed in 2001 updated the Georgia state flag from using the confederate battle flag to the current confederate “stars and bars” layout. This same law prevents the destruction of confederate memorials but allows for their relocation. The coalition supports Commissioner Mereda Davis-Johnson’s call for the creation of a task force to identify alternative county-owned locations for the monument. The coalition and community reject any plans to keep the monument on any portion of the Decatur Square.
MADSA members (some returning, some new) met at CWA Local 3204 for our monthly membership meeting this past Sunday (4/29). We heard reports from the membership and our coalition partners, then broke up into working groups to organize actions and events.
Shannan Reaze, director of Atlanta Jobs with Justice, distributed their annual Justice Catalog for the upcoming primary election (early voting on Mayday!), and announced several upcoming events, including the DeKalb Bus Drivers’ Campaign and the BCTGM bakery union’s efforts to save Atlanta’s Nilla Wafer factory from closure.
Photo: MADSA Chair Adam Cardo joined Atlanta Jobs with Justice's May Day effort to highlight workers's economic issues during early voting for the Georgia primaries. If you still don’t know who all is running and what all is on the primary ballot go on over to www.votewithjustice.org or catch us in these streets talking to working people. - Editor
We also proposed amendments to our bylaws for debate and voting at the next meeting. We’ll be adding the current bylaws and proposed amendments to the website shortly for everyone’s consideration.
We discussed several other matters, including a new reading group run by the Atlanta Institute for Social Research; reports from the recent anti-fascist action at Newnan, GA (scroll down for story); and the establishment of our chapter archive at Emory University. We then broke up into working groups and planned new actions and events, open to all, which will be forthcoming on this website and our various social media platforms.
-- Scott Douglas
As our member Eric Robertson said, “Big ups to the people of Newnan, Coweta County and allies from metro Atlanta for standing together against hate and fascism today. Encouraged by the energy and unity of locals who mobilized.”
An estimated 25-35 members of the National Socialist Movement and the white supremacist group League of the South demonstrated in Newnan on Saturday, April 21, partly in commemoration of Hitler’s birthday the previous day, 4/20. (top and above left left: Some of the anti-Nazi protesters. Right: NSM marches to the rally site.) Hundreds of people from across the region assembled to protest, including many Newnan residents, surrounded by hundreds of police and herded through checkpoints.
According to Gloria Tatum of Atlanta Progressive News, "ten counter-demonstrators were arrested on various charges: three on misdemeanor charges of wearing masks, one charge of pedestrian on highway, three charges of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, one misdemeanor obstruction of officers, and two charges for felony obstruction of officers." To help pay their bond and other legal expenses, donate here The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that NO Nazis were arrested.
MADSA activist Daniel Hanley was arrested but is now free. The police saw him speaking on a bullhorn, dragged him off the sidewalk, threw him to the ground and charged him with obstructing traffic! SEE HIS STORY AND PHOTO BELOW THE FLIP. Thanks to all who contributed to the bond fund.
Matthew Wolfsen tweeted during the action: “The police have decided to watch the counter protesters. None of the cops are watching the Nazis. . . ." And later: “I must say: the entire time I was there, I was more afraid of the police than the Nazis.” Police pointed assault-type weapons at the crowd, as numerous photos and videos on FB show.
After the rally, the Nazis held a "lighting" in West Georgia, featuring flaming swastikas. For photos of that bizarre scene, click here.
Below left, Newnan residents expressed their opposition to the Nazis creatively throughout the town. Below right: This signal (and others) mysteriously appeared Friday night. S
The Alliance for Black Lives and the Georgia Alliance for Social Justice joined forces to organize a Black Lives Matter rally and march dedicated to Anthony Hill, a young Black man and veteran who was killed by a police officer three years ago, whose killer was to start pre-trial procedures this Monday in the nearby Dekalb County Courthouse. The day before, we found out the start of the trial has been postponed to Monday, May 21...when there WILL be a vigil outside and a pack-the-courtroom action. The rally was always intended to remember many more Black lives that have been lost at the hands of racist, fearful and trigger-happy police - both in Georgia and nationwide. The group gathered in downtown Decatur across from Dekalb County's governmental offices, held a rally there, marched around downtown Decatur and ended at the Dekalb County Courthouse for another rally. - Lorraine Fontana. Photo: MADSA members (L to R) Lisa Ashway, Evan Seeds and Erin Parks joined the action.
Statement by the Metro Atlanta Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America on the vulgar hit piece against member Anoa Changa
Today, Atlanta NPR affiliate WABE published a baseless and racist hit piece against prominent black activist and member of the Metro Atlanta Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Anoa Changa.
In the proto-fascist milieu of contemporary American politics, it is vitally important that we lift up voices of color and support women like Anoa who stand in resolute defiance of white supremacy.
It’s wrong to disregard legitimate commentary raised on important matters of racial and social justice as simply being tools of a foreign state without consideration for the veracity and reputation of the people speaking.
Unfortunately, many that would consider themselves allies to oppressed peoples point toward foreign meddling when those most marginalized among us fight back against their oppressors. To insinuate that Russia is somehow responsible for racism in a nation built upon the whip-scarred backs of enslaved Africans is both ludicrous and sad.
The Metro Atlanta Chapter of the DSA is proud to stand with Anoa and support her crucial work in both local and national activist movements.
The smear against her is grotesque but also transparent - the ruling classes will not let go of power easily. We’re grateful to women like Anoa who put themselves at risk to stand up to the 1% and we are grateful for the opportunity to support her in that fight.
We were recently honored to host a quarterly meeting of DSA’s National Political Committee (NPC), the folks we elected in August to guide the organization’s work between conventions, plus our awesome National Director Maria Svart. This gave MADSA a chance to get to know them better and show off our chapter, which was praised highly by our guests.
We provided solidarity housing and transportation (coordinated by Jeb Boone); held a very enjoyable meet-and-greet at the Georgia Beer Garden on April 13, thanks again to owners member Johnny Martinez and Brandon Ley (photo: Michael Cole; Adam Cardo and Maria Svart on stairway); and joined our guests for dinner at Noni’s restaurant April 14 (meals organized by Jeff Ratto). Jeb live-streamed and Scott Douglas, Speck Pratt, Jeff Ratto, and Matthew Wolfsen provided closed captioning, so that DSA members everywhere with an appetite for long meetings could observe the proceedings. Michael Lavender, Adam Cardo, Reid Jenkins and others helped with rides. It was all made possible by the hospitality of our coalition partner Atlanta Jobs With Justice, who offered us their meeting room at short notice.
The meeting covered lots of business items such as finances, but included discussions of gun control, labor and electoral issues from a wide range of viewpoints. Minutes will be posted on the new national announcements page. Photos: Left, by Reid Freeman Jenkins. Rear L to R, standing: Atlanta JwJ Director Shannan Reaze; Jeb Boone; seated: Scott Douglas. Top center: Maria Svart. Clockwise from Maria: Catherine Hoffman (Detroit), Theresa Alt (Ithaca NY), Chris Maisano (NYC), Ajmal Alami (YDSA co-chair), Christian Bowe (Central NJ), Zac Echola (Red River Valley, ND), Michelle Fisher (YDSA co-chair), R.L. Stephens (Houston), Delé Balogun (Chicago), Ravi Ahmad (NYC), Allie Cohen (Knoxville), Ella Mahoney (NYC), Frances Rozi (parliamentarian). Christine Riddiough (DC) is at right of Beer Garden photo.
Member Matthew Wolfsen commented: “I had the opportunity to grab dinner with the visiting DSA’s NPC who oversee the entire organization’s direction. My thoughts were pretty simple. They are just good-hearted people. And that’s so refreshing and rare to see in a politically and nationally recognized organization.”
This demo/rally in Little Five Points, sponsored by the Georgia Coalition for Peace and Justice (MADSA is a member) and several other peace and justice groups was held April 13 in cooperation with the Coalition Against Foreign Military Bases as part of a national day of regional actions. Those who came were united in our opposition to all U.S. wars, and the use of our tax dollars to support the U.S. military machine. We want fundingfor human needs (here and abroad), not endless war. Sixteen MADSA members participated, possibly the largest contingent. Above, Lorraine Fontana holds up the Grandmothers for Peace banner, with Jim Skillman ("U.S. Tax Dollars") and Adrian Bernal (white shirt) close behind. Members Bernal (for School of the America Watch) and Reid Jenkins (for Veterans for Peace) were among the rally speakers (see photo after the flip).- Barbara Joye with thanks to Lorraine. Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins.
For more, see this video by Artemis Productions, including an interview with a young University of Alabama YDSA comrade: ttps://youtu.be/OFlD4fZwwVg
That same afternoon, a Rally for Black Lives took place in Midtown. Member Daniel Hanley sent the report published below.
Multiple DSA members joined the Alliance for Black Lives on Saturday as this newly-formed coalition marched through Midtown and through the Piedmont Park Dogwood Festival. An opening rally at Midtown MARTA station referenced the ongoing campaigns for Anthony Hill and other targets of racist violence, as well as economic inequality, demands for fair housing in Atlanta, and the connections between capitalism and racist police brutality. The organizers proposed a diversity of tactics including nonviolent disruption and voting out incumbents. This action was also aimed to build momentum toward next weekend's Rally for Black Lives in Decatur, which will call for justice for Anthony Hill, a young black veteran murdered by police in 2015. The trial of former cop Robert Olsen begins soon, years after a lengthy community organizing and direct action campaign successfully demanding indictment.Read more
March 30's membership meeting kicked off a very positive discussion of the best strategies for MADSA, with about 40 dues-paying members participating. While this is a small percentage of our total membership, it included most of the most active members and a group of new ones eager to get active - a good start. Led by officers Eric Robertson, Anat Fintzi and Adam Cardo, with help from scribe Scott Douglas (in photo), we divided into small groups for a lively and very productive SWOT exercise: brainstorming about our organization's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This led to a set of initial priorities, including improving internal communications, better ways to welcome and engage new members, and developing distinctive MADSA campaigns around local issues such as housing and public transit. Minutes will be posted soon. One important outcome: Several members took responsibility for heading up new working groups (in addition to the already operating groups on political education, LGBTQ issues and Medicare for All), so that people wanting to do more than just attend big meetings can get involved in their areas of interest.
The expanded list of working groups (still a work in progress; contact links will be added shortly):
#electoral - group for those interested in interacting w/ electoral races. Since groups will often cross-polinate on goals; they'll likely end up working w/ other working groups a lot (e.g. the #mc4a-interest working group)
#mc4a-interest - group interested in taking the message of the DSA's Medicaid for All campaign and applying that message in and around the metro atlanta area, through anything from educational initiatives to ranking/engaging politicians on their relation to MC4A
#onboarding - as new members continue to fill our ranks, this group will look to provide process/education/opportunities on how we can get new members up to speed w/ the larger organization as quickly and effectively as possible.
#digital_wg - working group that manages our technical resources and how these resources advance and connect the goals of MADSA
#education_wg - outside of just onboarding new members, this group looks into opportunities to educate the chapter and community at large on socialist theory, practice, and application.
#harassmentwg - working group that's helping codify MADSA's code of conduct such that we can provide spaces that make all feel welcome
#labor_wg - working group that's looking into opportunities for how to engage w/ labor in and around metro Atlanta
#internal_com - the 'working groups' working group, for lack of much of a better description. This group will help define the pre-existing channels of communication within MADSA, how the working groups fit into those channels, and what we'll need to have in place to ensure both transparency and inclusion in our communication.
#mutual-aid - discussing ideas where we can show solidarity with the chapter and community by raising ourselves through lifting others
#housing - discussing housing in Atlanta, opportunities to show solidarity with tenants, and all things development in the greater Atlanta area
#public-transportation - talks about MARTA, other public transport options, and initiatives we can take part in such to improve the sustainability and accessibility of transportation
#queer_wg_lgbtqqiaap - this group simultaneously works as a group for all lgbtqqiaap members to act as resources to each other as well as the larger community. This is important in building a queer socialist narrative, showing solidarity with those in the community, and recruiting in those communities.
A group of our members joined the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Southerners on New Ground, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (ASAJ) and Project South at the Capitol to help oppose SB452, a "show-us-your-papers bill on steroids" that would further terrorize immigrant communities and worsen community-police relations by mandating that police collaborate with immigration authorities (ICE). HB452 would have also rolled back the hard-won efforts to abolish cash bond in Atlanta. Happily, the General Assembly allowed the bill to die (for this year at least) by not passing it before midnight on Thursday, March 29 - "sine die," the final day of the legislative session. Above left: MADSA members (L to R) Matthew Wolfsen, Jordan French, khalid kamau, Erin Parks, Daniel Hanley and Amy Mei Willis (also with ASAJ) celebrate the victory. Above right: The coalition at the Capitol. Thanks to Daniel Hanley for this information. - Barbara Joye
MADSA members joined some 30-40,000 highly motivated students, parents, teachers and other supporters on the Atlanta March for Our Lives Saturday, March 24. We gave out all our buttons, flew the red DSA flag (thanks Josh) and proudly walked behind our banner while Daniel, on his bullhorn, led chants of "NRA and arms dealers, y'all make money off of massacres! Y'all ignore the students' voice, so we're taking to the streets to bring the noise - bring the noise, we have no choice!" as well as "Black lives matter" and "NRA, go away! Disarm the KKK! Take the cops' guns away! No more racist USA!". The students, including leaders from Chamblee H.S., Paideia and other Georgia schools as well as from Marjorie Douglas Parkland, were eloquent and inspiring, as was Rep. John Lewis. Photos: Reid Freeman Jenkins and (center) Steve Eberhardt.
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: email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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).
(MADSA is a partner of Hate Free Decatur. DSA's Southern Caucus endorsed a "Tear Them Down!" campaign for removal of Confederate monuments, at DSA's 2017 national convention, while recognizing that this is just one aspect of the larger fight against white supremacy. Below: People's Attorney Mawuli Davis addresses the DeKalb County Commission meeting while supporters stand in solidarity. Photo: Eric Voss)
Decatur, GA: On Tuesday, January 23, the DeKalb County Commission voted 6 to 1 in favor of relocating the Confederate monument from Decatur Square. The sole dissenting vote was Commissioner Nancy Jester. This is a historic moment in Georgia history, as the Commissioners affirm their commitment to stand to represent all people in DeKalb County regardless of race. The Commissioners showed that they understand the monument was erected in 1908 to celebrate the continued subjugation of black residents in DeKalb County, and that they reject the continued celebration of the men who took up arms against the United States to defend slavery and the Confederacy.
With this resolution, the County will solicit proposals for relocation of the monument to another publicly accessible space to stay within the confines of current state law OCGA 50-3-1(b), which protects Confederate symbols and monuments. This law was put into place in 2001 as a compromise measure to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state flag of Georgia but has yet to be challenged in court. This law contains specific provisions allowing for the relocation of such monuments for the purposes of preservation, protection, and interpretation. The resolution also includes plans to lobby for the repeal of the law as part of the DeKalb legislative agenda for 2018.
We commend the Commissioners who voted in favor or relocating this historic symbol of white supremacy on taking in taking a courageous stance against the continued hatred and bigotry that this monument represents.
Hate Free Decatur and our supporting organizations including Beacon Hill, Atlanta, and DeKalb County chapters of the NAACP, along with our numerous community partners, look forward to continuing the work to address the remaining systems of racial injustice within DeKalb County. We will update you as the process for relocation progresses.
With love and solidarity,
Hate Free Decatur
Powerful coalition-building at today's Power to the Polls GA, organized by Georgia Alliance for Social Justice! Our outreach team engaged local activists, distributing our free swag while discussing our local campaigns, direct services, and direct actions.
Many members of the local resistance were interested in our upcoming general meeting on Saturday (1/27): https://www.facebook.com/events/518040921892768/?event_time_id=518498195180374
- Daniel Hanley
Daniel's buttons flew off the table - "Fuck Trump" the all-out favorite (photo: Nate Knauf) - while he and Nate energetically engaged the crowds, with help from Erin Parks (above, R), Brad Lathem, Barbara Joye, Reid Jenkins. (Photo of rally crowd: Steve Eberhardt) - Editor
MADSA members continued our tradition of marching with the labor contingent in the annual MLK Day Parade and Peace March.
Veteran members welcomed many who had joined DSA during the past year and were participating for the first time, including several members of the new Young Democratic Socialists of America group from Ga. Tech (holding banner, above left).
(Above right) Josh Tuccio waved the DSA flag.
Our sister coalition, Atlanta Jobs with Justice, belted out spirited chants and songs by our side, while the Teamsters and several other unions led the way.
Photos: Reid Freeman Jenkins
MADSA members and friends had a great time at our "holiday" celebration Jan. 12, socializing and enjoying songs by Veronika Jackson (top[), Frank Hamilton and Payton Scott (bottom), despite rescheduling due to snow. It was a collective effort, with many members contributing refreshments, a slide show of our activities, and setup/cleanup labor.
Chair Adam Cardo (above, left) introduced speakers Bob Caine, who enlightened us about the venue's roots in an African American community that had built the First Existentialist Congregation building but been expelled from the area in the 1950's, and our beloved founder Milt Tambor, who announced the start of a project to archive historic MADSA documents at Emory U. (contact him at email@example.com). Caine also sadly informed us that our comrade Joe Corrado had died the previous week - no announcement yet of funeral arrangements. (Above right, photographer unknown) Some of the partygoers: (L to R) Marshall Rancifer, Shelly Berlin, Milt Tambor, Daniel Hanley, Anat Fintzi.
Photos by Reid Freeman Jenkins
Northeast Georgia DSA and the University of North Georgia's Students for a Progressive Society will be hosting Tim Faust and Josh McCall for a discussion about single payer healthcare and medicare for all.
The event will take place at the Robinson Ballroom of the Student Center at the Gainesville campus of the University of North Georgia, on January 19th at 6:30 pm. All are welcome. The event will also be streamed on the chapter's youtube channel.
[On the evening of 1/8], activists with the Metro Atlanta Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America sent a message directly to Donald Trump and his proto-fascist administration - they are not welcome in the City of Atlanta.
“F--- Trump”, “Dismantle White Supremacy”, “No One is Illegal” and “Medicare for All” was projected onto the side of Mercedes-Benz Stadium just moments before Trump took the field at the NCAA National Championship game.
The projections are a statement of our anger and disgust with the racist Trump administration but they are also a vision of a more prosperous future for our community - a future where our bodies aren't used for profit in an unjust healthcare system and a future where no one has to live in fear of deportation or racist violence.
We believe that future is attainable through mass working class mobilization against the evils of capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and imperialism. -- Officers, Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America
Ho, ho, ho. . . Oh, oh, snow! Our holiday party, originally scheduled for Dec. 8, had to take a snow day. But, thanks to our hosts, the 1st Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta (470 Candler Park Dr. NE, Atlanta 30307), we were able to move to a new date:
7 PM, FRIDAY, JANUARY 12. Celebrate a great start to 2018 while enjoying good company, refreshments and the inspiring music of Veronika Jackson (folk/blues) and Frank Hamilton (former member, the Weavers) with Payton Scott. Bring a dish if you wish, and a beverage.
Our bi-monthly Socialist Dialogue Dec. 3 focused on the shortcomings of what passes for a healthcare system in the U.S. and one alternative: Medicare for All (single-payer) which was declared a top priority for DSA at our national convention.
Speaker Rita Valenti (left) is a registered nurse; a long-time healthcare justice activist in organizations including Healthcare-Now! Georgia, National Nurses United, and Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP); and a former member of the Georgia General Assembly. MADSA's Stephen Friedrich moderated, and invited interested members to a Dec. 9 national DSA conference call to launch our Medicare for All campaign (contact Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org).
Right: Dr. Henry Kahn, MADSA member and PNHP leader, was among many attendees who participated in the "dialogue" portion of the program.
Photos: Reid Freeman Jenkins
Some MADSA members helped Food Not Bombs and member Marshall Rancifer of the Justice for All Coalition feed the growing number of homeless people in Atlanta Nov. 26 in spite of the City of Atlanta's efforts to sweep this urgent need and those people under the rug to make the city more corporate-friendly.
Atlanta Food Not Bombs has been sharing free food with anyone who is hungry for over a decade. "We believe that food is a human right, and that no authority should be able to prevent anyone from eating," their website statement explains. "Georgia State University Police has begun a campaign of harassment aimed at anyone who tries to share food with people [downtown]. They claim that giving away food is illegal without a food service establishment license from the City. The cops’ legal claims are confusing, contradictory, and ultimately false. What it comes down to is that they don’t want homeless people in the park, they want them to go somewhere else.
"But when they’re forced out of the park, the homeless won’t be going into a shelter, since the City finally won their years-long fight to shut down Atlanta’s largest shelter. And they certainly won’t be going into housing, in a city where gentrification and speculation has created what many are calling an affordable housing crisis. Developers, university administrators, and city planners do not care that there’s nowhere for poor people to go. As far as they are concerned, the homeless are a nuisance to be dealt with the same as rats and pigeons.
"The cops have already charged one of our volunteers with this supposed crime, but we will not stop. If the government makes sharing illegal, then we have no choice but to be criminals. Not just because our conscience requires it, but because helping each other is the only way we will all survive."
To find the next opportunity to feed homeless people in a public park, see the Teardown Community's Facebook page.
MADSA has been supporting the Georgia Beer Garden and the Justice for All Coalition to collect supplies for unsheltered people at our social event at the Garden (420 Edgewood Ave.) on the third Friday of each month (scroll down to Oct. 23 story). We continue to urge our members and friends to support this emergency effort. Anat Fintzi reported "When we spoke with Marshall after [the Nov. 26 feeding], he said they would do another event (HIV testing) on Wednesday or Thursday and the supplies that he most requested for donations in the near future are: socks, canned goods (esp tomatoes), dried beans, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, sanitary products. All supplies can be dropped off at the Georgia Beer Garden."
Photo by Anat Fintzi (L to R): Robin, Earthworm, Josh and Scott in Hurt Park, Nov. 26.
“While there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” -- Eugene Victor Debs
At the 2017 Douglass-Debs Dinner Nov. 18, we packed the Loft at Castleberry Hill with a beautiful celebration of our campaigns for democracy, socialism, and human rights. (Right: The Communication Workers of America's table.) This was MADSA's 11th annual fundraiser where we recognize and celebrate the work of progressive leaders in the Metro Atlanta community.
This year's honorees:
Brother Mawuli Davis (left), founding partner of the Davis Bozeman Law Firm, received an award for his continued work as a true people's lawyer across so many struggles.
Brother khalid kamau, councilman for the new City of Renaissance (aka South Fulton) received an award for his community justice work and help leading the new city just south of Atlanta to a better, more progressive, future. (Above: Khalid with award presenter and MADSA officer, Teamster Local 728's Eric Robertson.)
Sister Lani Amina Ledisi accepted the MADSA Creative Activism Award for Southerners on New Ground (SONG) and their Black Mamas Bailout Project.
Thanks to Chair Adam Cardo; outgoing Chair Milton Tambor (right) who organized this event for the its first 10 years; keynote speaker Sarah Jaffe (left); all the awardees; the Douglass-Debs Organizing Committee; singer Payton Scott; graphic designers Emma Latham and Barbara Segal; our labor movement supporters; and all members and attendees, for the inspiration we need to continue these difficult struggles into 2018 and beyond. - Daniel Hanley and Lorraine Fontana.Read more
I had the priviledge of attending the first Afro-Socialist training in New York this weekend. Co-sponsored by DSA and the Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung (Foundation) New York office, the two- day workshop consisted of presentations from past and present activists on subjects such as the history of people of color in the socialist movement, how to organize and build coalitions with people of color, and best practices for individual outreach.
Attendees consisted of DSA members from all over the country, including California, Texas, Massachusetts, Georgia and New York. The energy was amazing, the facilitators were engaging, and I left feeling empowered by the tools and information provided.
I look forward to implementing the strategies I learned in my work with MADSA to improve our service and partnership with people of color. - Erin Parks
(Erin Parks is top row, third from right. DSA National Director Maria Svart is front row, seated, second from right, )
Former State Senator Vincent Fort, MADSA's endorsed candidate for Mayor of Atlanta, did not win his bid to become the most progressive mayor in our city's history, despite great volunteer canvassing, phone banking and light projections by many of our members. He greeted a crowd of supporters Tuesday evening with a short speech geared to the long term: "We have created a movement, a coalition, that will continue."
His message the next day read in part: ". . .Last night’s results aren’t a negative reflection on progressive principles, or on how hard we fought for them. In fact, I couldn’t be prouder of what we accomplished. Despite being outspent by candidates with corporate backing, we ran a tough, issues-oriented campaign that garnered support from citizens in Atlanta and around the country. Together, we defined what this election would be about. We forced other candidates to address issues that, prior to my candidacy, were nothing more than pesky topics worthy of avoidance. We changed the conversation. . . I look forward to being actively engaged in the fight going forward. This isn’t the last you’ve heard from Vincent Fort, and I trust it isn’t the last the status quo has heard from you." (Emphasis in the original)
Meanwhile, across the country, DSA members and DSA-endorsed candidates racked up historic wins as part of the "wave" in which voters rejected the Trump/Republican agenda in favor of diverse newcomers who ran on platforms geared to the issues affecting ordinary people. Fifteen of the 25 DSA members who ran won, including an amazing win in Virginia where Lee Carter replaced the state legislature's majority whip. This brings the number of DSA members who are elected officials to 25. See the complete list here. (Correction: Mike Pappas, who defeated a 24-year machine Democrat incumbent to win a judgeship in Pittsburgh, is missing from the list. Read about his historic win here.)
And, of course, the rightwing media has freaked out. Newsweek has an interesting review of their reaction to our wins, including a good quote from one of our NYC comrades, here.
I'll close with part of MADSA leader Daniel Hanley's Facebook comment, which, after citing the low voter turnout and gross disparity of resources among the candidates, ended on a call to future action:
"No justice or democracy in our institutions, but Keisha won't stop us. Trump won't stop us. We're gonna keep on keepin' on, in the ATL human rights tradition, and exercise our democracy whenever we can find it IN. THE. STREETS. We'll take action through demand-oriented campaigns for criminal justice reform, workers' rights, environmental justice, universal healthcare, education, and housing. We'll advance our agenda for democracy and socialism the same way we always have. We'll build even stronger community bonds, organizations, and multi-racial working-class coalitions that endure beyond election cycles, and so by 2021 no fleet of Keisha-branded luxury buses can threaten us. Like [community activist] Tanya said: Victory is ours!"
Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins
We met Oct. 28 at the CWA hall in Grant Park (thanks, Local 3204) to connect with chapter events and local activism we support.
Richard Hunsinger (above, left) and Aaron Thorpe (above, second from left) of the Housing Justice League reported on the Beltline for All campaign. The demands include affordable housing and "development without displacement" for neighborhoods affected by Beltline construction (Grant Park, Ormewood Park, Adair park, Mechanicsville, Pittsburgh and Peoplestown), and a voice for the long-time residents of those areas. See www.housingjusticeleague.org or the Housing Justice League's Facebook page and Twitter (@HJLatl) Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins
MADSA member and Ga. Tech student activist Matthew Wolfsen, with Naiki Kaffezakis and Allyn Wardlow - Tech trans community leaders and Progressive Student Alliance activists - updated us on the cases of seven people arrested for alleged actions during a protest in front of the campus police station following a vigil for Scout Schultz. Schultz was murdered by campus police in September; for background, scroll down to our 9/17 post. Five of those arrested - after the event and on mostly trumped-up charges - are people of color; four are trans people; one is aTech student, three are Ga. State students (friends of Scout's) and one is not a student. Tech student Cat has been barred from campus, so unable to go to her job, dorm room or classes. She and others were charged with arson (setting fire to a police car) despite being arrested before it began. The GBI is investigating Scout's murder.
Nate Knauf reported on the successful launch of a Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter at Tech. We hope to send activists from their group and others to the national YDSA winter conference in February.
MADSA and Justice for All leader Marshall Rancifer (left) described the urgent need for more support for the growing number of homeless people on our streets and some of the reasons why they are unsheltered, including barriers to working while living at some shelters. Blankets, sleeping bags and coats are especially needed, and can be dropped off at the (member-owned) Joystick Gamebar (427 Edgewood Ave.) and Georgia Beer Garden (420 Edgewood Ave.) during business hours. Scroll down to the 10/23 post on our recent fundraiser for this cause at the Beer Garden. Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins
Finally, Tim Franzen from the campaign to elect MADSA-endorsed candidate Vincent Fort Atlanta's most progressive mayor ever, inspired us to phonebank and take canvassing assignments. To phonebank with comrades (and refreshments): Join us at 7 pm, Wed. 11/1, at 334 Brookes Ave. in Candler Park. See MADSA on Facebook and Twitter for other Fort for Mayor campaign events.
The so-called "white lives matter" rally in Tennessee is over, the nazis have been run out of town. Murfreesboro (second half) was actually pretty anticlimactic -- the fascists saw that they were massively outnumbered & fled.
The DSA contingent had no arrests, no injuries -- a very successful counter-protest. Very proud of our comrades, thanks to everyone who showed up to confront white supremacy. - Brad Lathem, chair, Northeast Georgia DSA (a branch of MADSA)
Photo: Brad Lathem (bottom row, second from left) and MADSA member Chad Floyd (bottom row, left) among comrades from Birmingham DSA, Northern Alabama DSA, Middle TN DSA, Charlottesville DSA and other chapters.
Supporting Sen. Vincent Fort for Mayor, we proudly made up about half of Fort's contingent in the Atlanta Pride parade Oct. 15. Some of our signs displayed issues we share with Sen. Fort, and we flew the red DSA flag. Photo at right: Reid Freeman Jenkins.
At the front of the contingent was a group of Ga. Tech students with a banner protesting the arrest of students from Tech and other schools for their actions following a vigil for the murdered Tech student activist Scout Schultz (above, left; photo: Matt Wolfsen). For background, scroll down to entry for Sept. 17. Below: Fort for Mayor, photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins.
Despite a threat of heavy rain, our Oct. 8 Socialist Dialogue drew a receptive crowd for a wide-ranging panel discussion of electoral politics and the significance of former State Senator Vincent Fort’s MADSA-endorsed campaign for mayor (more phone bankers, canvassers and donors needed!).
Stephen Day (right), chair of the Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections, argued that in Georgia the white racial voting bloc has been the primary driver of electoral politics, but that the bloc is itself split between evangelicals and others. He indicated that there are strong possibilities for progressive candidates to wage targeted, “stealth” campaigns on the local level, mobilizing key Democratic constituencies - in particular African-American women - in order to flip municipal and county offices. He urged DSA members to engage with the Democratic Party, particularly those members who are more set on social democracy than democratic socialism per se.
Minnie Ruffin (left), MADSA member and veteran voting rights activist who has worked with the Coalition for the People’s Agenda, ran down a long list of vote suppression and restriction methods ranging from gerrymandering to purging voting rolls on spurious grounds - such as a voter’s failure to return an inconspicuous card they receive in the mail asking them to confirm their status. Ruffin said all these methods are being used in Georgia. She checks her own voter status weekly and found recently that her polling place had been changed, though she had received no notice of the change. She recommended watching the Supreme Court’s hearing (58 mins.) on gerrymandering: https://www.oyez.org/cases/2017/16-1161 (click on Gill v. Whitford at left).
“We need a man we can trust, and we can trust Senator Fort” said Ga. State U. law professor Tanya Washington (left), who both sang and spoke at a Sept. 30 rally for Atlanta mayoral candidate former State Sen. Vincent Fort, which featured Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT, below). Fort was the highest-ranking local politician to endorse Sanders’ presidential race, and Sanders returned the favor. To add even more star power to the event, the progressive and very popular Atlanta rapper Killer Mike introduced Fort.
MADSA has endorsed Fort’s candidacy, many of the event volunteers were members, and we handed out over 1,000 buttons. (Left: Anat Fintzi and Scott Douglas help sign in rally attendees as a near-capacity crowd of 2,453 filled St. Phillip A.M.E. church in East Lake. Photos: Reid Freeman Jenkins.
Lorraine Fontana (left, at podium) urged the DeKalb County Commission at their 9/26 meeting to remove the monument to the white supremacist Confederacy from the Decatur Courthouse Square. Judy Conder of Artemis Productions sent this video of the event https://youtu.be/cQllFj9bQ9M and a report:
"Young (compared to me), smart, well informed activists from Hate Free Decatur, NAACP Beacon Hill, Dekalb NAACP, and ATL NAACP (many of whom are attorneys and historians) are working their way through the hierarchy of clueless local Georgia politicians in an effort to remove the Confederate monument from the Decatur square. Since the city of Decatur has the highest concentration of attorneys in the state of GA, this coalition has been able to organize a group of pro-bono attorneys who are willing to defend the city and/or county against any litigation. The white supremacy law that prohibits the removal of Confederate monuments has never been tested/litigated. They believe that Dekalb county, the second most affluent African-American county in the country, is the place to do it.
According to Mawuli Davis, president of the NAACP, Beacon Hill branch: 'The people are prepared to stand up and defend what we believe our right is if the attorney general’s office for the state of Georgia seeks to impose their will and say that we do not have the right to self-determination in this city and county to remove this monument to white supremacy.' ”
Later that day, Erin Parks (right), one of our new MADSA officers, warned participants at a Change Walmart rally on the Morehouse College campus that every dollar spent at Walmart, whose owners are strong Trump supporters, helps enable people like Education Secretary Betty DeVos to siphon funds away from public education and other necessary programs. Parks is a graduate of Spelman, Morehouse's sister college. The "Trump and Walmart Make America Worse" campaign stop in Atlanta was co-sponsored by Atlanta Jobs With Justice.
Barbara Joye (left) spoke in Woodruff Park at a Georgia Alliance for Social Justice rally to protect the Affordable Care Act, reminding listeners that even though three Republican votes seem to have killed the right wing's latest attack on ACA, the struggle for universal health care has just begun. ACA (which needs improvement anyway) will continue to be attacked, and we need to work toward Medicare for All.
Photos by Reid Freeman Jenkins
Congratulations to the new officers elected at our Sept. 16 membership meeting! They are: Chair - Adam Cardo (in photo); Membership Secretary - Michael Lavender; Recording Secretary - Jeb Boone; Treasurer - Seth Ellingson; At-large (3) - Anat Fintzi, Erin Parks, Eric Robertson. Please give them all your support as they lead us during the next 12 months. (See "Minutes" above for more about the meeting.) Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins.
The Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America mourn the loss of Scout Schultz (pronouns they/them). Scout was a comrade to several members who knew them from their attendance at Eat, Drink, & be Marxist, a monthly social event, as well as from their leadership as president of the Georgia Tech Pride Alliance. Scout will be remembered as a kind person who fearlessly lived their life as a visible, proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Their tireless efforts within Pride Alliance continuously reminded us of the ongoing struggles of the transgender, non-binary, and intersex community. Scout’s tragic passing reminds us that access to high quality mental health resources is vital to the wellbeing of everyone, especially members of the LGBTQ+ community.
STATEMENT FROM GA TECH PROGRESSIVE STUDENT ALLIANCE:
We are distraught over the loss of Scout Schultz. They were an incredible, inspirational member of our community and a constant fighter for human rights. Please join us in celebrating and honoring their life and the contributions they made to campus and the greater Atlanta community.
Starting at 4pm today we will begin to place flowers and memorabilia on 8th street in front of West Village.
Monday evening, there will be a vigil at 8 pm at the Georgia Tech Campanile.
We love Scout deeply, and we hope you will join us, along with Pride Alliance at Georgia Tech, to share memories of their beautiful life.
Photos Courtesy of Ga. Tech Progressive Student Alliance.
MADSA will share information through Facebook on memorials and donations for Scout’s surviving family.
Trans Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The Trevor Project 1-866-488-7386
The National Suicide Prevention Line 1-800-723-8255
Georgia Crisis Access Line 1-800-715-4225
We joined a MADSA-endorsed "Nothing Great About Hate" rally and march Sept. 10 to demand that the DeKalb County Commission remove a monument to the "Lost Cause" that currently defaces Courthouse Square in downtown Decatur. A spirited crowd of some 500, led by Hate Free Decatur and the DeKalb NAACP, heard speakers from many faith and community organizations, circled the downtown area behind a contingent of community youth and ended with a second rally in front of the monument. Most speakers called for the monument to be moved to a museum or cemetery. One sign read: "We don't want to erase history, we want to get on the right side of history!" The DSA's Southern Caucus has endorsed a "Tear it Down!" campaign, while recognizing that the monument issue is a symbol of the larger struggle against institutionalized white supremacy. Photos: Reid Freeman JenkinsRead more
National DSA's Immigrants' Rights Committee has published a strong statement denouncing Trump's decision to end DACA, signed by representatives of many DSA groups including MADSA (and more have signed on since this was posted).
The statement begins:
"President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, under pressure from a nine-state coalition led by the Texas Attorney General, represents another racist attack by his administration on immigrants, in this case on young people who were brought into the United States as children. The undersigned members of the Democratic Socialists of America denounce the repeal of DACA and maintain solidarity with the nearly one million DACA recipients who will become targets for harassment and deportation by ICE. . . "
Read the complete statement in English and Spanish here.
Yesterday, hundreds rallied at the detention center in downtown Atlanta in anticipation of the decision. Photo: Kevin Moran
Erin Parks (L), Barbara Joye (R), Reid Jenkins, Milt Tambor and Linda Lieberman tabled for MADSA at the AFL-CIO's annual Labor Day cookout at UAW Local 882's recreation center in Hapeville. Many friends dropped by the table, and several new people signed up for our email. Photo: Howard Romaine
And member Steve Gill sent this report from another Labor Day event:
"As chance would have it, I got back to Columbus last night and was able to head up to Atlanta in the morning for the Reclaim Labor Day: Thank a Worker event held by ATL Jobs with Justice and ATL Raise Up. So jazzed that my daughter and I had the opportunity to do this! Only wish I took more photos!
If you get a chance today, thank a worker who is working on Labor Day and tell others to do the same. We need all hands on deck to ensure a living wage and union representation for all. So, spread the love, get out the word to vote, and help tackle social and economic injustice!"
Photo: Steve Gill
By W.B. Reeves
Thousands turned out in downtown Atlanta Aug. 20 to oppose white supremacy and to honor the memory of Heather Heyer, the young woman murdered by a Nazi/white supremacist in Charlottesville, VA a week earlier. Gathering at Centennial Olympic Park adjacent to CNN Center, the swelling crowd heard speeches from representatives of various groups making up the sponsoring Georgia Resists coalition, which includes the American Friends Service Committee, Black Lives Matter Atlanta, Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, Georgia Moral Monday, Georgia NAACP, NAACP Atlanta, NAACP Beacon Hill, SisterCARE Alliance,SOS-Save OurSelves and the Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America. The park was the site of the 1996 Olympics bombing by right wing terrorist Eric Rudolph, which killed one and injured 111.
Former state legislator and mayoral candidate Vincent Fort called for a moment of silence to honor Heather Heyer before stirring the crowd with a call-and-response chant of “Fired up!, ready to go!”
The crowd moved out down Marietta Street with chants of “The people, united, will never be defeated!”, “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “Tell me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!” On the way it passed the sculpture of Henry Grady where white racist mobs had thrown the bodies of murdered black men at the foot of the statue during the 1906 race riot. They continued through the central business district, their voices echoing and re-echoing off the high rise buildings that surrounded them. Along the way they were applauded and cheered on by pedestrians.
The march concluded at the M.L. King Jr. Center for Non-violent Social Change where Dr. King and his wife Coretta Scott King rest side by side in a common crypt. Local news outlets gave the rally and march extensive coverage.
W.B. Reeves is a member of Metro Atlanta DSA.
This article originally appeared in Daily Kos.
Photo at left by Steve Eberhardt
Intense white supremacist beliefs and fragile white backlash on display today in response to the protest to tear down a racist Confederate statue in Gainesville. The cops spontaneously rolled in to intimidate and greatly escalated the tone of the event.
Great job to all the organizers and activists involved, holding their ground against an angry white crowd. Erin Parks was extremely courageous and chill as she confronted dozens of them. Thanks to Brad Lathem from NorthEast GA DSA as well for taking initiative on this.
"Cops and the Klan, hand in hand," I remarked. One old white guy was eager to get my attention to respond: "no, that's not true! They pushed me first."
-- Daniel Hanley, photos by Reid Freeman Jenkins
Editor's note: As Brad points out in the Gainesville Times article linked below, no violence took place; about 150-200 folks of all persuasions attended, and DSA members from Atlanta and Athens joined our Gainesville comrades.
See also this report in the Gainesville Times.
Saturday and Sunday (8/12-13) many of our members joined protest marches and vigils responding to the lethal attack on antiracist counter-demonstrators by white supremacists opposing removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va. Here is Adam Cardo (on phone) in Sunday's march. (Photo:Steve Eberhardt.)
Erin Parks spoke at the rally in Woodruff Park, and Stephen Friedrich and Scott Douglas made the front page of the Atlanta Constitution, which showed them honoring Heather Heyer. More to come.
On Monday 8/14, Senator Isakson (R-GA) FINALLY held a town hall meeting to address his outraged constituents.However, he refused entry to many, despite ample space; he failed to answer many questions on matters of life and death; the event ended one hour early; and he ejected MADSA member Brad for being disruptive, including his calls for single-payer healthcare. So, immediately after the town hall, we decided to bring our demands directly to Johnny Isakson's office building. (Report and photo: Daniel Hanley)
Statement of the DSA National Political Committee Interim Steering Committee, August 13, 2017
The final number remains unknown. However, latest reports suggest that at least one person has lost their life and at least 19 injured. Two DSA members were hospitalized and have since been discharged. There are reports that an ISO comrade was also injured. A comrade reportedly from the Industrial Workers of the World lost their life on the front line of the battle against fascism. (Photo: Heather Heyer)
In the face of growing racist, anti-Semitic, white supremacist violence, comrades from across the left came together in an incredible display of left unity. They came from many different organizations but spoke with one voice, chanting “Black Lives Matter” and other pro-solidarity slogans. Undaunted, they held the line and showed the fascists that they shall not pass. The day ended with the streets of Charlottesville free of Nazi scum.
We call on the left to build a strong united front against this emboldened right wing. We need to be clear and recognize that white supremacist terrorism will not simply go away if it's ignored. This violent and dangerous movement should never be allowed to have a platform. It should always be fought against by the strength of our united front.
It is important to acknowledge the differing responses of the police to white supremacist marches and terrorism and their reactions to Black Lives Matter protests and marches. Black Lives Matter protests are always met with the worst police brutality and suppression while white supremacist marches are allowed to freely attack counter-protesters on many occasions.
In this way, we plainly see whose side the police are on. From the days of the creation of the modern day police in the 1800s, they were used as a violent force for the physical suppression of a resistant working class, of Black slaves, and indigenous people. Today, their role of social control and oppression remains largely the same.
Trump delivered a meandering and at times incoherent statement earlier this afternoon. During the statement, where at one point he even talked about totally unrelated "record employment", he predictably blamed "all sides" for the violence, as if the left has a centuries-long history of state, systemic, and societal violence against oppressed groups. This is a tired line that the right wing uses to justify its terror. Trump also spoke of the need for "law and order", but we know that this is a signal for more police and vigilante terrorism against Black and Brown communities and the left.
We believe that the terror unleashed on our comrades can be defeated. We also believe that the wider system of racist oppression can be defeated, but only with the ending of the capitalist system which birthed it.
We encourage you to donate to help with the medical costs of comrades injured in the attack. As we mourn for the dead, we must also fight like hell for the living. DSA members across the country are turning out for solidarity actions in their communities. Get in touch with your local chapter to find ways to participate.
Together, we will fight fascism and build the better world we know is possible. Solidarity forever.
At our membership meeting Aug. 12, our delegates to the national DSA conference (Chicago, Aug. 3-6) reported on this historic event, "with lots of important and hopeful info...especially how the national AND local org have grown in past year," said Lorraine Fontana. (L to R: Barbara Joye, Brad Lathem, Adam Cardo, Daniel Hanley, Jeb Boone, Anat Fintzi, Scott Douglas. Eric Robertson, Maxwell Ruppersburg, Matt Wolfsen, Tom Ladendorf and Reid Jenkins were also delegates. Photo: Lorraine Fontana)
The convention, which was attended by some 1,000 delegates, observers, staff and media, reflected DSA's growth; previous conventions had drawn just 150-200. The national blog (dsausa.org) lists some of the extensive media coverage and reports from our members, including a moving report by MADSA's Jeb Boone.
The convention passed a priorities resolution to guide DSA's staff in deploying national resources until the next convention is held in 2019. The priorities are: campaigning for Medicare for All (single payer health insurance); electing democratic socialists to office; and helping to build the labor movement. It will also be posted on the national website and blog. Chapters are urged to take action on the national priorities, but may pursue other issues as local conditions warrant.
(Left, above: Adam Cardo, Anat Fintzi, Scott Douglas (standing), Barbara Joye, Jeb Boone, Brad Lathem, Daniel Hanley, Matt Wolfsen. Right, above: Plenary session. Photos: Reid Freeman Jenkins)Read more
Here's a sampling of recent activities by MADSA members (please send your info and photos to email@example.com so I can consider featuring them here):
(Left) On Friday July 28, several members including Jeb Boone, Dani Washburn, and Adam Cardo stood with community allies in front of the Israeli consulate in solidarity with Palestine and the Al Aqsa mosque.
(Right) Saturday was a time for defending the rights of trans people to serve in the military, and the human rights of LGBTQ people in general, against recent actions against those communities by Trump and his administration. (L to R): Barbara Joye, Dani Washburn and Reid Jenkins, with (not shown) Travis Reid, Gifford Bery and Dave Hayward joined the spirited crowd that assembled in Midtown before marching to Tech Square for a second rally. Photos: Steve Eberhardt
Finally, MADSA canvassers for Sen. Vincent Fort were joined this Saturday by Geoffrey Meldahl, who came all the way from Chattanooga DSA to join us. Y'allidarity forever!
MADSA members were among a diverse crowd celebrating the launching of State Sen. Vincent Fort's mayoral campaign headquarters on Sat. July 22, at 2797 Campbellton Road. MADSA member Eric Robertson of Teamster Local 728 was one of the speakers from the labor movement and other sectors who expressed their support (24 local unions have endorsed Fort). After the speeches, some of us helped canvass homes in the neighborhood. Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins
Our new format for the July 16 Socialist Dialogue, “An Age of Unrest,” was a big hit. Participants said they enjoyed meeting in small groups where they took turns reading from short stories about world and U.S. events of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, then reflecting on what they heard in light of our current concerns.
The events highlighted ranged from movements in the U.S. for women’s suffrage, labor unions and racial justice to the global fight against colonialism and imperialism. We shared insights and additional information from our various perspectives, enriching everyone’s understanding. The handouts were provided by Dialogue coordinator and people’s historian Ian Fletcher (see photo below).
MADSA's elected convention delegates and alternates celebrated the finish of an intense 4-hour "virtual" conference on national priorities for DSA, which they participated in on July 15 through a computer hookup in the back room of the (member-owned) Joystick Gamebar. With convention delegates from other DSA groups across the U.S., they debated online resolutions submitted by local groups on single-payer healthcare campaigns, electoral work, and labor organizing, designed to set priorities for DSA's deployment of its national resources during the next two years. The national Resolutions Committee will send the versions that received the most support to the convention for a final vote. Left to right: Maxwell Ruppersburg, Jeb Boone, Michael Lavender (seated), Barbara Joye, Reid Jenkins, Erin Parks, Matthew Wolfsen, Tom Ladendorf, Adam Cardo, Brad Lathem, Anat Fintzi, Scott Douglas (standing). Not shown: Chadwick Floyd, Daniel Hanley. Also delegates: Eric Robertson, Ron Spears. Photo: Daniel Hanley
On July 8, members of MADSA’s newly hatched North East Georgia DSA branch (NEGADSA) and a group of Athens DSA members spent an afternoon getting to know each other at the Hi-Lo Lounge, joined by members of the progressive group Athens for Everyone and other friends. Metro Atlanta DSA is very pleased to welcome NEGADSA, with special thanks to organizer Brad Lathem! (See story below about one of their recent actions.) The Athens group voted to apply for branch status as well.
The man in the blue shirt at the far right (below) is R. J. Hadley, candidate for Georgia Secretary of State. Richard Dien Winfield, a UGA prof contemplating a run for Congress, addressed the group as well. We are hot! Reach NEGADSA at NortheastGADSA@gmail.com or onTwitter and Facebook: @NortheastGADSA
Photos by Reid Freeman Jenkins.
A half dozen intrepid members of our new branch: Northeast Georgia DSA (NEGADSA) protested the Campus Carry bill that went in to effect July 1, at the U. of North Georgia campus, along with Indivisible Lumpkin, Students for a Progressive Society @ UNG, and Young Democrats of Hall County. “There was a good turnout at the event,” reports Brad Lathem. (Photo by Jeff Casper. L to R: Brad Lathem, Michael Lavender, Kit Carson, Emma Lathem.)
Leah Christine Terry, born on the 7th of March, 1993 in San Jose, California. sadly passed on May 29 in Atlanta, Georgia. A passionate socialist activist, Leah's dedication to social justice was borne out of her own struggle with disability and her family's struggle against corporate America.
Leah was born with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, a condition characterized by obsessive thoughts, habits or rituals. Leah's father, Alton Terry, a poultry farmer, sued Tyson Farms for canceling his contract after he helped to organize his fellow farmers. Her experiences with both of these struggles propelled Leah on a path of organizing, with a focus on the intersection between capitalism and ableism. While attending Sewanee: The University of the South, she was an active member of Sewanee Young Democratic Socialists. During this time, she also served on the 2014-2015 YDS Coordinating Committee. After leaving Sewanee, she moved to Atlanta, where she was involved with the Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America.
She will be missed greatly, and her generous and caring spirit marches on.
By Adam Cardo (in photo with Leah)
The Task Force for the Homeless’s shelter at Peachtree and Pine that has offered temporary housing, advocacy and many creative programs to Atlanta’s homeless since 1997 will soon close, as Atlanta Progressive News reported. Former shelter director Anita Beaty was honored at MADSA’s 2010 Douglass-Debs awards dinner and has been a MADSA member. (Be sure to note the comment that follows APN's article by MADSA member and Task Force board president Chuck Steffens.)
APN closes by pointing out that "The City of Atlanta has identified no plan to house the current residents of the Task Force and does not appear to have caused new resources to materialize that would provide new shelter beds to replace the ones that would be lost."
From a news release from Atlanta Jobs With Justice (MADSA is a proud member):
The City of Atlanta has unanimously approved raising all city workers to a $15 minimum wage as a part of the FY2018 Budget vote. City of Atlanta workers will receive at least $13 per hour on July 1, 2017, $14 per hour in 2018, and finally to a $15 minimum wage in 2019. Over 1000 firefighters, sanitation, parks & recreation, watershed, and other employees will now see their wages move up to at least $15 an hour, moving many of them out of poverty.
Seven year Atlanta parks and recreation worker Marquee Scales who earned just $12.85 before the move said “I am abundantly thankful that the Council and the Mayor have decided to prioritize the needs of all workers in this budget”.
Atlanta Jobs with Justice held the first fight for $15 rally in 2013 to support fast food workers going on strike for $15 and a union. The courage of workers that day showed that today’s victory for workers was possible. Atlanta Jobs with Justice has been working with city workers, community, labor, and faith organizations since 2016 to advocate that the City of Atlanta restore its promise of living wages from 2005.
Metro Atlanta Democratic DSA joined incredible activists and friends from Our Revolution Georgia and United Students Against Sweatshops at the The People's Summit this weekend! We strengthened our bonds with coalition partners around the country, articulated a positive platform for human rights -- beyond the resistance -- and attended trainings and workshops for movement organizers. — with Michelle Sanchez Jones, Anoa J Changa, Emmanuel Morrell, Susana Durán Perez, JT Pennington, Erin Parks, Scott Brown, Daniel Hanley and Adam Cardo. (Report thanks to Daniel Hanley; photographer unknown,)
Great turnout for our June general membership meeting! We heard a report from DSAer Khalid Kamau on his recent electoral victory in South Fulton (standing in photo at left); updates from Asma Elhuni on the vicious destruction of Tent City by GSU police; inspirational words from Erin Parks about Our Revolution's local electoral work; and many other agenda items, including a straw poll in favor of leaving the Socialist International (the actual vote will take place at the convention); a motion regarding a local Confederate monument; and - last but not least - we voted to endorse Sen. Vincent Fort for Mayor of Atlanta.
We also elected a full slate of 13 delegates and 2 alternates to represent us in August at the Democratic Socialists of America's National Convention! The delegates: Jeb Boone, Adam Cardo, Scott Douglas, Anat Fintzi, Chad Floyd, Daniel Hanley, Barbara Joye, Brad Lathem, Erin Parks, Eric Robertson, Maxwell Ruppersburg, Ron Spears, and Matthew Wolfsen, and alternates Reid Jenkins and Tom Ladendorf, will be meeting during the next couple of months to discuss the issues that they will be voting on at the convention.See y'all in Chicago! #yallidarity Report and photo: Scott Douglas
Minutes after daybreak on Friday, June 2, the Tent City ATL resistance camp at Turner Field was raided and destroyed by a task force led by GSU police. Camp protesters awoke to officers wearing rubber gloves and wielding knives as they began to slash tents from their pallets. Five protesters, including both GSU students and community allies, who had camped overnight were present as the raid began.
During the raid, one officer was overheard saying: “They should have been warned last night.” Turner Field Coalition leadership affirmed that the raid and destruction of the camp came without warning, despite GSU Police Chief Joseph Spillane reportedly having contact information for the resident leadership. This wasn’t the first encounter with GSU police during the 63-day occupation. During the raid, campus police also tried to intimidate camp members by threatening them with charges of criminal trespass; however, no arrests were made.
Residents, along with students and allies, have been holding space in front of Turner Field since April 1 in an effort to raise awareness about the lack of community involvement with the planning of upcoming developments around the Turner Field neighborhoods, including Summerhill and Peoplestown. For over three years, the Turner Field Benefits Coalition has been meeting and studying successful models for a legally binding community benefits agreement and has created a draft proposal. In fact, over the last few weeks Georgia State University and Carter Developments have been in ongoing negotiations with the Coalition. This raid and destruction of the camp clearly indicates a lack of good faith on the part of the university and illustrates their continued disrespect for the very communities of which they want to be a part. GSU student activists and allies are now calling for the removal of GSU President Mark Becker. While next steps for the Coalition are still being determined, the fight against gentrification and displacement of these neighborhoods is far from over.
For more information on how to get involved follow Housing Justice League on Facebook or visit the Coalition website at turnerfieldcoalition.org.
Report and photo: Reagan Cooper
Reagan Cooper posted on FB: "This card-carrying socialist just finished canvassing Grant Park for my man, Sen. Vincent Fort for mayor!"
Members Marshall Rancifer (Justice for All Coalition), Johnny Martinez(GA Beer Garden), and friend of DSA Amy Mei Willis (National Lawyers Guild) expose businesses' discrimination against Atlanta's homeless population, despite the progressive and hip trappings of Atlanta's rapidly gentrifying Edgewood Avenue corridor, in a report by Creative Loafing: "The Fight for Edgewood Avenue." (Check out Marshall's buttons in the photo.) Thanks to Daniel Hanley for bringing this to our attention!
We joined Atlanta Jobs With Justice and the Georgia AFL/CIO in Rev. James Orange Park April 30, to commemorate Workers' Memorial Day honoring workers killed or injured on the job and build for the next day's May Day rally and action at City Hall.
Here, MADSA's Ian Fletcher, people's historian, recalls for us the origins of May Day/International Workers' Day. Background, center: MADSA chair Milt Tambor. Wearing signs: Three of the MADSA members and friends who brought to life heroes and heroines of U.S. labor history (left to right): Cesar Chavez (Adrian Bernal), Albert Parsons (David Christian), and Lucy Parsons (Jaira Burke). Others not shown portrayed Big Bill Haywood (Michael Lavender), Mother Jones (Heather Gray), Joe Hill (Georgia Slim, a.k.a Cullen Brown, of the band I Want Whiskey), Eugene Victor Debs (Walter Reeves), A. Phillip Randolph (Edward Young), and Dorothy Bolden (Pat Sauls). At right, blue shirt: Barbara Joye coordinated the history project. Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins
Our contingent enthusiastically joined many other organizations at the May 1 rally led by Atl. JwJ and the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, to call for a minimum of $15/hr for Atlanta city workers, sanctuary for immigrants, a Community Benefits Agreement for the Turner Field neighborhoods, and other demands for dignity and human rights. After the rally we swarmed into the City Council meeting, where dozens of us spoke out in the "public comment" section of the agenda. Photos: Barbara Joye, Reid Freeman Jenkins
MADSA member Ian Fletcher will kick off the April 30 event with a brief history of May Day, followed by MADSA members and friends bringing to life "Heroes and Heroines of U.S. Labor History" and much more. For details: bit.ly/MAYDAYATL2017PREP. May 1 will be a day of action at City Hall, with the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Atlanta Jobs with Justice, and many others. For details: bit.ly/MAYDAYATL2017
Daniel Hanley and Barbara Segal, among other MADSA members, marched for science with thousands of other Atlantans, April 22.
Khalid kamau, a Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member and endorsed candidate for City Council in South Fulton, Georgia (center in photo), won in today’s election with 67 percent of the vote. Kamau defeated Charlean Parks, who finished second in the five-way primary race on March 21st. In addition to DSA, he was endorsed by Our Revolution, Teamsters Local 728, and Street Groomers.
“Far too many elected officials start their day thinking of your boss instead of you — but the working people of South Fulton will have a City Council member on their side: khalid kamau,” explained Maria Svart, Democratic Socialists of America's national director. “Khalid’s win today is a tremendous victory for his community and a shot across the bow for politics as usual nationwide.”
Erin Parks, a Metro Atlanta DSA chapter member and kamau campaign volunteer expressed enthusiasm: “Khalid's campaign and victory prove that teamwork and a people-centered platform can prevail against all odds. His win is a harbinger of things to come in the Metro Atlanta progressive movement.”
Khalid is a co-founder of the Atlanta chapter of Black Lives Matter and a labor organizer for the Amalgamated Transit Union. As an active member of Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Units, he helped develop a neighborhood watch program and negotiated on behalf of his community in development projects. Khalid is also active in environmental justice and LGBTQ rights advocacy.
Khalid entered today’s runoff election after coming in first place in a five-way primary election held in March with 43%. In that race, khalid won twice as many votes as the next runner up, and the highest percentage of any candidate running for any office in South Fulton. DSA members across the country made thousands of phone calls on behalf of khalid for both rounds of the election.
Khalid is the second DSA member to win local office this month. Dylan Parker was elected to Rock Island, Illinois’ City Council as 5th Ward Alderman on April 4th. There are now 14 DSA members holding public office, including Carlos Rosa, Chicago’s 35th Ward Alderman; Mike Sylvester, of the Maine House of Representatives; and Julie Ann Nitsch, Austin Community College Board of Trustee in Texas.
When I received an email invitation from Gus Cochran inviting me to speak to his April 17 political science class on democratic socialism at Agnes Scott, I jumped at the opportunity. Talking up democratic socialism and the work of DSA would be an experience I could only relish. In my conversation with Gus I learned that the Sanders campaign had prompted him to offer a first-time class on democratic socialism entitled the "Politics of Social Democracy." Gus had begun teaching at Agnes Scott in the 70's and helped bring Michael Harrington to speak at the campus in the early 80's.
The syllabus included readings by Marx, Bernstein and Lenin in a survey of socialism in the first part of the 20th century. In assessing the prospects of democratic socialism in the 21st century, he examined movements in the US - Occupy, Black Lives Matter and the Sandernista political revolution - as well as the alternative left political parties in Europe - Die Linke, Syriza and Podemos. A most pleasant surprise was the inclusion of The ABCs of Socialism (Jacobin) as a key reading.
My presentation revolved around a packet of literature I distributed to the 20 students in class: Isserman's history of the American Left, Cornel West's flier on the alternative to capitalism being socialism, and copies of our own MADSA pamphlet, newsletter and Douglass Debs 2016 program booklet.
The students raised interesting questions: “How does democratic socialism differ from social democracy? How can millennials talk to their parents about democratic socialism? How does the Democratic Socialists of America as an organization relate to the Democratic Party?” A high point of the morning came after class when several students expressed interest in starting a Young Democratic Socialists chapter on their campus.
(Note: Our national office now employs a YDS organizer to help campus groups form chapters of our youth section. See http://www.ydsusa.org/start_a_chapter)
MADSA member Josh Tuccio brought this flag to the Tax Day rally and march April 15, demanding that President Trump release his tax returns. Way to go, Josh!
MADSA and United Students Against Sweatshops member Patricio Cambias was among five people, including four Georgia State U. students, arrested April 10 for sitting in at the GSU president's office. They were demanding a meeting to discuss the Community Benefits Agreement which the Turner Field Benefits Coalition, representing long-established communities neighboring the stadium and in danger of displacement, has presented to the university and the developer for months in vain. For details see the Atlanta Progressive News story. Photo courtesy of APN; Cambias is seated center, in plaid shirt.
The defeat of the Ryan/Trump plan to replace the Affordable Care Act - itself a compromise measure based on Republican Governor Mitt Romney's Massachusetts health insurance program - with something much worse gives progressives a chance to renew our decades-long call for a "single payer" system, also known as "Improved Medicare for All." Bernie Sanders championed single payer during his campaign, and says he will soon propose legislation to that effect. In Atlanta, on April 8, about 150 people rallied in front of Grady Hospital to show their support for this cost-effective and common-sense measure. Above, Dr. Henry Kahn, a MADSA member and Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) activist, addresses the crowd. For more info see healthcare-now.org and pnhp.org. Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins
Activists from the Atlanta Jobs With Justice and GA J20 coalitions met Thurs. 4/6 at the tent city at 755 Hank Aaron Drive. Turner Field neighbors fighting displacement and supporters from the Housing Justice League and Ga. State U. student groups have been camped out there for some days now despite rain and cold, demanding that the Turner Field developer and GSU sign a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) which the affected communities have been working on since the stadium changed hands (#TentCityATL). (MADSA is a member and/or supporter of all these coalitions and groups.)
The lively meeting of activists moved forward on plans to hold a joint day of action on May Day/International Workers Day on issues ranging from immigrant rights to neighborhood rights to the fight for a $15/hr minimum wage for City of Atlanta workers. The groups will hold a rally in front of City Hall at 11 am on Monday, May 1, then join a City Council meeting scheduled for 1 pm (#MAYDAYATL).
Coalition members will prepare for the May 1 actions with a speak-out/teach-in at 2pm the previous day, Sunday April 30, in Rev. James Orange Park, 1305 Oakland Drive, Atlanta 30310 (everyone welcome!). The program will include a presentation by MADSA about the history of May Day and a reprise of last year's popular theater piece presenting historic heroes and heroines of U.S. labor. See also AtlJwJ.org and previous stories on GA J20 and MADSA's tour of neighborhoods resisting displacement and gentrification.
At our general membership meeting April 1, progressive State Rep. Renitta Shannon (firstname.lastname@example.org) provided a no-fooling rundown of the mostly toxic bills passed by the Ga. General Assembly and currently on Gov. Deal's desk for him to sign into law - or not - within 40 days from March 30. Her clear presentation of the bizarre ways some bills were pushed through and their implications was a wake-up call. Here is a superficial summary of just one example: HB452 (look it up). At the last minute, language from two failed bills was added to HB452 to 1) make many forms of protest while committing a felony "domestic terrorism" and 2) set up a public registry of formerly incarcerated undocumented immigrants who have served their time and still live in Georgia, potentially setting them up as targets for hate crimes.
We also heard reports on current MADSA and allied activities, including our Education and Social Media working groups, the Jacobin reading group, the IBM workers' petition campaign (see story below), and Atlanta Jobs With Justice's May Day/International Workers' Day celebration and action (look for more on May Day soon, plans are evolving). Finally, we formed an important committee to plan the 2017 Douglass-Debs Dinner, our major fundraiser, so that Chair Milt Tambor (in photo at left) can be relieved of his 10-year duties as the lead organizer of this very popular community event. To volunteer contact email@example.com.
Following the meeting, many of us fought traffic to get downtown just in time to join the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition and the Housing Justice League as they rallied and marched to Turner Field demanding that Ga. State U. sign a community benefits agreement so that residents of adjacent inner city neighborhoods will be assured of "development without displacement." Many marchers set up tents to camp out overnight in front of Turner Field.
Photos by Reid Freeman Jenkins
MADSA member and 10-year IBM employee Daniel Hanley has spearheaded a petition campaign to demand that IBM CEO Ginni Rometty distance herself and the corporation from the Trump administration (and improve certain employee benefits and working conditions). Rometty joined the president's economic council after sending him a letter congratulating him on his election victory and offering to help carry out his programs. This contradicts the corporation's declared values of diversity and tolerance, according to the IBM workers who delivered their petition to the Atlanta headquarters Monday and to the New York City headquarters on Tuesday, with the names of more than 1,000 of their fellow employees.
Hanley, joined by others at all levels of the company, urged that IBM workers support "democracy in the workplace, and resist any collaboration between our CEO and Trump that results in civil liberties violations impacting Muslims, immigrants, people of color, trans people, and other marginalized groups." In Atlanta, Asma Elhuni of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Jovan Julien of Project South spoke for some of the groups potentially affected by IBM's actions, and 10 MADSA members attended the event. (Note: IBM notoriously provided equipment to the German Nazis that helped them create a registry of Jews to be targeted by the Holocaust. Trump during his campaign called for a registry of Muslims in America.) For videos of the petition delivery events, see MADSA's Facebook page. Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins
On March 25, MADSA co-sponsored our 6th annual bus and study tour of inner-city African American neighborhoods resisting displacement by gentrification and stadium development, together with the Peoplestown Revitalization Corporation, the Housing Justice League, and #ATLisREADY. DSA members, housing justice activists, 14 Georgia Tech students and community leaders visited four neighborhoods that are threatened by corporate interests - with the support of City Hall.
Columbus Ward, president of the Peoplestown organization, who was honored at MADSA's Douglass-Debs awards dinner in November, led the tour, with Tim Franzen of the Housing Justice League and MADSA member and Ga. Tech Prof. Emeritus of Planning Larry Keating (above, standing, third from left). Avery Jackon of #ATLisREADY, Ga. State U. Prof. of sociology Deirdre Oakley, and housing justice organizer Allison Johnson also briefed us on the history and current issues affecting the communities. The highlight as always was our visit to the threatened Peoplestown homes of GSU law professor Tanya Washington (left) and Bertha and Robert Darden, and the home of Ms. Mattie Jackson (center) - who after a courageous campaign with community support was told last year that she will not be displaced, and celebrated her 95th birthday during our visit! Photos: Reid Freeman Jenkins
Friday night's get-together, "Eat Drink and Be Marxist!" was a big success, with about 40 people showing up - including many of our newer members and many friends who are not members yet but came to check us out. We enjoyed the warm weather in the back yard of the Georgia Beer Garden at 420 Edgewood Ave., getting to know each other and "putting the social in socialism." Check our Facebook page for announcements of similar events in the future. Thanks to MADSA's Social Media team for organizing this one.
BTW, Beer Garden owner Johnnie Martinez is a DSA member who also owns the Joystick bar across the street. We met him through his support for the Bernie Sanders campaign, and have enjoyed his hospitality on other occasions. Thanks Johnnie and partner Brandon!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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.)
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
During the past few days, protesters have filled the streets of many U.S. cities to tell the world that we will not give the new administration a honeymoon but will fight back from day one against extreme rightwing racist, anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ and anti-worker policies and actions that are sure to come. Atlantans were also in the streets. (Photos: Steve Eberhardt)
Calls to action on a variety of issues, including support for the Standing Rock anti-pipeline water protectors, are coming in fast. See the MADSA Facebook page for announcements.
Also be sure to follow national DSA news at dsausa.org. We gained 1000 new members in the two days following the election! DSA Director Maria Svart sent a message to inspire us, posted on the blog (home page, center column) and a statement by the NPC is in the works.
Several MADSA and YDS members joined a spirited crowd of about 125 (mostly young) Atlantans who marched through downtown Nov. 4 from 4pm to midnight in solidarity with the Standing Rock protesters against the Dakota Access pipeline that threatens tribal sacred land and access to water, the Missouri River, and water supply to a large area. YDS members from Emory, U.GA and GA State turned out. Above: The man holding the sign wore a MADSA button from our Pride booth. Next to him: members Mitsy Novitch and Barbara Joye. Photo by Steve Eberhardt.
The ATLisREADY community organizing body is issuing a call for all Atlantans to join us on Monday November 7, 2016 at Atlanta City Hall for our 24 Hour Tent City for Equity sleepout event. This will be a day of action, awareness and solidarity that centers on Atlanta’s homelessness and equity crises and the factors that cause them to persist on the eve of "election" day.
Because the day will center on Atlanta's equity crisis as it applies to people living without homes and those at risk of the same fate we are calling for an all hands on deck resource drive effort to gather donations including: non-perishable food items, clothing (especially winter wear), first aid supplies, hygeine kits, hand warmers and any other items that may fit the needs of individuals living without stable homes.
We also invite any organizations or individuals who are organizing resource drives separate of this event to take this opportunity to distribute your items on-site and connect with others doing similar work to help further these efforts.
This tent city sleepout will also coincide with the ATLisREADY Pack City Hall Event which will begin at 1pm.
ATLisREADY would like to invite all artists, entertainers, photographers and any other creatives interested in filling the space with your work to come out as well and keep us in positive, revolutionary spirits througout the day.
This will be a full 24 hour sleepout event and we encourage you to bring:
Tents, blankets, heaters, hand warmers, warm bevarages, bottled water, hygeine kits and other supplies in preparation
SEE: ATLisReady on Facebook and look for updates.
The MADSA Pride festival booth was even more popular this year, with a steady stream of visitors all weekend. The button maker never cooled off; we gave away about 2,000 buttons saying "Black Lives Matter," "Metro Atlanta DSA," and "LGBTQ Liberation, not Rainbow Capitalism."
A young student dropped by to say he is starting a YDS chapter at his high school (see photo)! Over 120 people signed up for our email list and took literature; we hope we see a lot of you at our open house Oct. 16 (2 pm at the Decatur Recreation Center) so we can get to know you better.
The parade contingent was lively and greeted with cheers, as always.Read more
MADSA members joined Black Lives Matter Atlanta, Justice for All Coalition, Solutions Not Punishment Coalition (SNaPCo), Women on the Rise, Racial Justice Action Center, Lawyers United for a New Atlanta and other community organizations who rallied at Atlanta City Hall Oct. 3 to oppose legislation proposed by Council members Kwanzaa Hall and Alex Wan that would permit the City to move towards acquiring the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter for the purpose of building a massive police facility. The rally and educational speak-out was followed by people packing the City Council chamber for their meeting at which the ordinance was to be voted on. Photo: Lorraine Fontana
During the time allotted for public comments, among many moving speakers opposing the closing of the shelter (no one gave a public comment supporting the closing) was Fight for $15 activist Dawn O’Neal. She told Council President Ceasar Mitchell that at one time while she was his daughter’s substitute teacher she was actually homeless and earning only $8.50 an hour. After the public comment period, many audience members broke out into vocal protest, chanting "Vote! Vote!" and one person was arrested. See the Atlanta Progressive News report for details. The ordinance passed, with Council member Felicia Moore the only dissenting vote. Meanwhile, the Task Force’s lawsuit disputing the ownership of the property is still going through the court system. Photo: Marshall Rancifer
MADSA, WRFG, Atlanta Jobs with Justice, Rise Up, ATL Raise Up and other friends reached out to hundreds of festival goers at the Many Rivers to Cross: a Festival of Music, Arts and Social Justice Festival’s “Social Justice Village” in Fairburn during the first weekend in October.
Daniel Hanley reported on “great experiences and conversations!. . .Organizing highlight: our DSA table spoke with so many Atlantans who pledged to participate Monday in the campaign to save Peachtree-Pine shelter. People were appalled by Kasim Reed's attempt to displace hundreds of shelterless Atlantans and replace their beds with a SWAT command center. We also spoke with people from out of town, who are eager to get plugged in to work with DSA locals in their home regions.” Photos: Daniel Hanley
MADSA’s membership meeting Sept. 24 was one of our most inspiring. We heard recollections of the Open Door Community (ODC)-led 1990 occupation of the then-abandoned Imperial Hotel, which resulted in the re-opening of the hotel for homeless people and other gains in affordable housing. Historian Charles Steffens called it “one of the most dramatic street actions in Atlanta since the student-led civil rights protests of the 1960s.” The main speaker, Terry Easton, author of Raising Our Voices, Breaking the Chain: The Imperial Hotel Occupation as Prophetic Politics, was joined by ODC founders MADSA member Ed Loring and Murphy Davis, other veterans of the occupation, and ODC board and community members. See the Summer 2016 MADSA newsletter “Equality”, posted on this website, for an article by Easton. For a copy of his book ($10 donation), contact the ODC.
Following the general discussion, MADSA members present elected officers for 2016-2017: Chair Milt Tambor, Treasurer Travis Reid, Membership Secretary Barbara Segal, Recording Secretary Barbara Joye and members t-large Adam Cardo, Cecily McMillan, and Eric Robertson. Thanks to Nomination Chair Bob Caine and outgoing officers Daniel Hanley and Greg Ames. We continue to explore ways to develop new leadership to help us grow in the years to come.
An estimated 1,000 Atlantans led by the Georgia NAACP, Black Lives Matter, #stopkillingus and allied organizations quickly organized Sept. 23 to demonstrate downtown in solidarity with the protests against police killings of Keith Scott in Charlotte, NC and Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, OK. (Crowd estimate from Atlanta Progressive News.) They marched from the Center for Civil and Human Rights to the King Center and from there to the Atlanta Police Department and jail, where to the approving flicker of lights from the cell windows they assembled peacefully until midnight for a “Midnight in America” rally. Protests continue. Above, center with DSA shirt and sign: Daniel Hanley; for right with sign, Megan Harrison. Photo: Steve Eberhardt
Members of Georgia Raise Up, Moral Monday Georgia, MADSA, the NAACP and other organizations demonstrated at our State Capitol during a National Day of Action on Monday, Sept. 12, called by Rev. William Barber's Moral Monday movement.
People of faith, workers and community activists gathered at state capitols in 25 states to deliver the “Higher Ground Moral Declaration,” which calls on governors, senators, state legislators, and candidates for office to move away from extremist politics and policies that benefit the few and move toward policies and laws that are just and fair and guarantee a better life for the majority of the people.
Lorraine Fontana (holding sign) and Ann Mauney (arm raised) were among the MADSA members who marched from Trinity Methodist Church to Liberty Plaza for a rally before a delegation delivered the Declaration to Governor Deal's office. (Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins)Read more
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.
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
On March the 6th, Bhaskar Sunkara was in the metro Atlanta area to discuss socialism and the Jacobin Magazine. The conversation was moderated by myself, Brandon Payton-Carrillo and covered modern socialist thought and the importance of the Sanders campaign. Once the main thrust of our conversation was finished, an enthusiastic audience engaged in a thoughtful question and answer segment. If you were not in attendance, you really missed out on an amazing event. (NOTE: Members of MADSA have begun a reading group under the auspices of Jacobin magazine. See the calendar on this site for meeting info, or contact Norm at 404-378-4026.)
Thousands of Bernie supporters marched on Feb. 27 along the Beltline to Piedmont Park, where they dispersed to canvass in the surrounding neighborhoods. MADSA members participated as individuals, helping to make buttons, give out signs, serve as marshals, and of course carry Daniel's awesome DSA posters. (Photo by Steve Eberhardt)
On Feb. 20 over 40 people crowded into the meeting space at the Open Door Community to exchange information about a wide range of current issues and struggles. To name a few: attorney Chaka Washington's fight against the death penalty for Kenny Fults; Adam Cardo on the Young Democratic Socialists' winter conference; Becky Rafter's report on Ga. WAND's fight against radioactive pollution and other dangers from the Savannah River Plant and Plant Vogtle (with the low-income, mostly African American community of Shell Bluff on the front lines); Daniel Hanley on the Bernie campaign; and guest speaker Larry Pellegrini's wry and insightful report on the Georgia legislative session, complicated this year by the members' re-election campaigns. . . .Read more
(Photo by Rebekah Joy)
I had heard that Killer Mike was going to meet with Bernie Sander supporters at the Atlanta campaign office on the morning of the rally at Morehouse College. Killer Mike had electrified the crowd at the Fox Theater the last time Bernie was in town. So, I was looking forward to seeing him up close and even meeting him. When I arrived at the campaign office located at 236 Auburn Avenue, the meeting was already in progress. Approximately 75 people had gathered together and were listening to two young African-American men from Chicago attached to the campaign who were explaining why they were supporting Bernie for president. . .Read more
Metro Atlanta DSA’s Daniel Hanley has helped coordinate MADSA’s efforts to support Bernie Sanders’ candidacy through the independent group Georgia for Bernie, and national DSA supports the related People for Bernie movement (see dsausa.org). As individuals, Daniel and other members also volunteer for the Bernie campaign. – Editor
As field offices open throughout the state, the Sanders campaign in Georgia rapidly announced multiple Bernstorm events (previously “barnstorms”) to launch the coordinated campaign effort, augmented by a foundation of community support built over the previous year by an authentic grassroots, independent coalition. On January 29, nearly 200 people packed the Communications Workers of America union hall to meet with national and local staff.
Anthony Hill was a 27-year-old African-American Air Force veteran whose bipolar disorder was exasperated by his deployment overseas. During a psychotic episode, a naked Hill was shot and killed outside his apartment by DeKalb County Police officer Robert Olson in March of 2015. Local activist groups who led marches and rallies demanding an indictment of the accused officer included Rise Up Georgia and #It'sBiggerThanYou, as well as myself and several fellow Atlanta DSA members. We also collected funds for the cause at our Socialist Dialogue. The struggle culminated in a three-day campout outside the DeKalb County courthouse during the week of January 17th. The officer was successfully indicted on all six counts against him. (Photo: Lorraine Fontana. Adam is to the left of the man with a blue scarf.)Read more
We anticipated a large, energetic group in the democratic socialist contingent in this year's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day March, but the crowd we saw blew us away! Despite the cold weather, 50-100 people felt the Bern and participated regardless. Multiple local DSA members active in the Bernie campaign helped to build this contingent, which marched alongside our union sisters and brothers in the labor movement. We announced the event through Facebook; passed out hundreds of flyers at the Fox; announced it at multiple watch parties; and amplified the event announcement through contacts we've made with some of the Bernie activists. – Daniel Hanley
Photos by Reid Jenkins.
A record 56 people showed up to engage in a dialogue about the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability oppression under capitalism. Emory and U.Ga. women’s studies Professor Patricia Del Rey, Racial Justice Center Co-director Xochitl Bervera, MADSA Recording Secretary Barbara Joye and facilitator Lorraine Fontana presented perspectives on the history of the connections between these issues and the implications for progressive social activism. Many of those attending shared their experiences and concerns, ending with an illuminating personal testimony on disability issues by Ninah Davis. MADSA Chair Milt Tambor summed up “intersectionality” as “solidarity,” and we ended by singing "Solidarity Forever." Many new friends attended, including members of Georgia Rise Up, Solutions not Punishments, Grandmothers for Peace, Atlanta Women for Equality and Georgia for Bernie, and students from Emory U. We hope to see them all again. Photo by Reid Jenkins: Brandon Payton-Carrillo led the gathering in the opening song: "Union Maid."
Fight for $15 folks from Atlanta took a bus to Charleston to join with organizations across the South for a mass mobilization and demonstration at the Democratic Presidential Debate. MADSA members Adam Cardo (pictured), Daniel Hanley, and Megan Harrison were among them. The group called on all candidates to focus on living wages, racial justice, and healthcare for our families. After protesting and marching outside the debate, a silent march was held outside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the site of the murder of the Charleston 9 by Dylan Roof. A nice surprise occurred when Senator Bernie Sanders came out and addressed the marchers.
About 20 MADSA members joined a diverse crowd of 125 at a "Welcome Refugees" rally in front of the Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Stone Mountain. The event had been quickly called by the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition (MADSA is a member) and refugee community and faith groups to show solidarity with refugees and immigrants, following incendiary statements by Donald Trump and others. Photos: Reid Freeman JenkinsRead more
MADSA member Dougie “the Abolitionist” Hanson brought together a standing-room-only crowd of activists and concerned individuals in the Little Five Points Community Center Dec. 5 for an afternoon of dialogue with many excellent speakers on ending "the Georgia Gulag” – mass incarceration, the “war on drugs,” the school-to-prison pipeline, oppressive conditions in our prisons, and related matters. MADSA was among several organizations offering their literature and signing up interested participants. We honor Dougie for his tireless efforts to raise awareness and inspire action on these issues.
Dave Hayward, author of "Forward Together: A Look at Atlanta's LGBT History Since Stonewall" at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, guided a group of fellow MADSA members and friends through the exhibit on Dec. 6.Member Lorraine Fontana is among the pioneer activists featured. Hayward directs Touching Up Our Roots, an oral history project documenting Atlanta's LGBT community. Forward Together will be on display on the ground floor of the Center only until the end of 2015.Read more
Metro Atlanta DSA joined numerous other community and environmental justice organizations -- totalling over 500 Atlanta activists -- in clamoring for bold action by the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, coinciding with many grassroots mobilizations around the globe. DSA contributed to the Atlanta Climate March in terms of finances, people power, and radical analysis, demonstrating its deep concern and outrage toward ongoing and escalating environmental devastation, wrought by economic systems that assume limitless production, consumption, and investment in carbon based energy sources. The Emory Graduate Sustainability Sustainability Group coordinated the march, which drew participation from a wide range of organizations and individuals, including the Sierra Club, Georgia for Bernie, Citizens' Climate Lobby, and other prominent friends of DSA such as Senator Vincent Fort and Daniel Blackman.Read more
On Nov. 18, a diverse crowd of over 120 community activists and supporters enjoyed MADSA's ninth annual Douglass-Debs Dinner. After an inspiring speech by Bob King, former president of the United Automobile Workers - and a guest appearance by Bernie/Daniel Hanley - we honored Fr. Roy Bourgeois, founder of School of the Americas Watch; former State Rep. Tyrone Brooks; and our own Minnie Ruffin. The dinner is our main fund raiser, which supports our expenses and allows us to donate to our coalition partners and other good causes. For more photos and MADSA chair Milt Tambor's report on our year's activities, click on "Read more."Read more
(L to R) Carl Davidson, Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism; Jim Skillman, MADSA and CCDS; Sarah Gollwitzer, Cleveland DSA; MADSA members Steve Gill, Megan Harrison, Daniel Hanley and Travis Reid, at the Nov. 22 vigil at the gates of Ft. Benning remembering victims of School of the Americas/WHINSEC graduates and demanding the school be shut down. Also in the crowd: Adrian Bernal, Barbara Joye, Reid Jenkins, Ed Loring, Minnie Ruffin.Read more
Nine MADSA members joined over 100 DSA members from across the country to help set the organization’s course for the coming years, share skills and insights in workshops and join in song during a three-day convention Nov. 13-15 at a retreat center in rural Pennsylvania. Participants agreed that the “Bernie moment,” which has enabled DSA’s accelerated growth in recent months – reflected in increased attendance compared to previous conventions – justifies optimism about the future of democratic socialism in the U.S. and of DSA in particular.
MADSA members helped lead workshops on writing, recruiting new members, sharing experiences across generations, strengthening local chapters, and working on the Bernie Sanders campaign, as well as caucus sessions for identity groups and their allies. Brandon Payton-Carrillo and Reid Jenkins contributed their talents as singer-song writers. MADSA attendees were Hope Adair, Adam Cardo, Steve Gill, Daniel Hanley, Reid Jenkins, Barbara Joye, Brandon Payton-Carrillo, Travis Reid, and Milt Tambor.Read more
Clinton faced grassroots resistance from multiple organizations, including Metro Atlanta DSA, during her visit to Atlanta this past Friday. Earlier in the day, her appearance at Clark Atlanta University, intended to launch "African Americans for Hillary," was interrupted as Black Lives Matter protesters with the #AUCShutItDown collective raised their voices, chanted, and started singing. This new generation of black liberation activists, in sharp contrast to the defensive Democratic Party elites and old guard civil rights leaders in attendance, sought to hold Clinton accountable for her dismal record on racist state violence and economic exploitation of people of color.Read more
Metro Atlanta DSA strongly endorses the upcoming Fight for $15 national day of action, which falls on Tuesday, November 10. At 5:00pm on 11/10, outraged and abused fast food workers, home care workers, and other low-wage workers will confront Atlanta City Hall, demanding that the Atlanta City Council and Mayor Reed do everything in their power to achieve a $15 minimum wage in our city. This is the latest in a series of growing actions to demand that exploitative employers pay their workers a living wage and respect the right to democratic representation in the workplace.
Beyond participation in the November 10 mobilization, our DSA local has expressed a deeper commitment toward organizing and mobilizing low-wage workers and allies.Read more
October 10th and 11th, 2015: Atlanta's Gay Pride Festival and Parade enlivened downtown and Piedmont Park for two days. From its brave, but inauspicious beginnings over 20 years ago, the festival has grown to one of the largest, and certainly the most colorful, happenings in Atlanta.
MADSA, together with Georgia for Bernie and Latinos for Bernie contingents, marched proudly in the Atlanta Pride parade, to the frequent applause of huge crowds of spectators, whose energy matched that of the paraders. The weather was great, and the parade marched along for the better part of three hours.
On Sept. 26, at the Open Door Community, MADSA held its general membership meeting. Over 40 people attended, including many first-timers who met us at Georgia for Bernie events.
The program featured Gary Washington, originator of WRFG's Labor Forum program and former member of the Black Panthers. MADSA's own Minnie Ruffin added her recollections of the Panthers' community nutrition programs, in which she participated while a graduate student at UC-Berkeley.
Washington distributed copies of the Panthers' "Ten-Point Program," a document that seems a pertinent, socialist manifesto even today.
Many expressed great admiration for the personal risks Gary Washington had endured, asking how he mustered the courage that so many lack. He humbly replied that everyone is able to contribute to the movement for justice to some degree, observing that there is only a single degree of difference between a tub of water and a force capable of driving a steam engine. Will you be the 212th degree?
Great turnout and discussion at the Sept. 13 Democratic Socialist Dialogue: the Climate Crisis and Alternatives to Capitalism. Thanks to (L to R) Sr. Liz Sully, Daniel Blackman, Bobbie Paul (moderator), and Jeff Bragg, each of whom made many insightful observations based on Naomi Klein's book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate and Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si; to Ray Miklethun for organizing the event; and to all of the approx. 50 people who joined the dialogue, including many new faces.