PHOTO: Keisha Lance Bottoms, keishalancebottoms.com
IMPENDING GENTRIFICATION: If Atlanta Voters Fail to Come Out Strong for Keisha Bottoms on November 7th …
“Seeing a Whole Foods in a formerly black neighborhood is a telltale sign of gentrification.” – Marc Polite, Harlem
(BALTIMORE – October 31, 2017) – When I first descended on Atlanta from my first Delta flight to the state of Georgia, I was introduced to a place I have come to love. A history junky indeed, I would come to learn just how significant Atlanta was and is to the progress of black people.
I would learn about Paschal’s, a restaurant where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights legends would regularly meet. I would learn about people like Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays who was both president at one time of our beloved Morehouse College and also mentor to Dr. King. And I would come to appreciate everything from Spelman to the broader Atlanta University Complex to the Underground to the Muslim community in West End Park.
Over the past 5 years, I have made a regular pilgrimage to Atlanta for our Black Wall Street ATL events where we celebrate black entrepreneurs and professionals as well as the people who support them regardless of race.
All this to say, I have a deep appreciation for this critically important city that is also a transportation hub. Back in the day, the railroad tracks all met in “the A.” Today, it’s airport – built under the guise of the late visionary Mayor Maynard Jackson, is one of the busiest in the world.
In a week, this city – with all of its accomplishments for black life and culture – could get its first white mayor in decades.
Long story short, if the people do not rally around Keisha Bottoms, Mary Norwood will become Atlanta’s first white mayor since Mayor Sam Massell, who was Jewish, left office in 1974.
While gentrification has risen its head – because of black flight, white investment, and other factors – Harlem, Brooklyn, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. (just to name a few heavily black urban areas), who would have ever thought it would reach Atlanta.
Yep, with all of its glory, Norwood has a good lead on Bottoms according to most reports I have seen.
Before I go, though, I have to raise the question: What happened? How can you go from forty-plus years of blacks in power to a white mayor? Did the current mayor, Kasim Reed, drop the ball as the ball was dropped in Baltimore when Martin O’Malley, the guy who locked up one in six Baltimoreans in his tenure, emerged? Did Reed forget to have a secession plan, especially after other black mayors demonstrated how one supports the next guy?
I do not know what happened. I just know that Keisha Bottoms could use some serious support right about now. While my understanding is that former Mayor Shirley Franklin has endorsed Bottoms, she still needs more help.
And for those who ask why a black mayor is needed, I say you can vote for or support whomever you want. However, I have seen what can happen with the right black leadership. Atlanta’s skyline is ever-emerging. It has enjoyed an evolution and, quite honestly, I am proud that blacks were leading the way – just like many of us know we can.
So many thoughts come to mind, including Black Wall Street in Tulsa.
Too often, there is this notion that black people cannot succeed. Many of us know, though, that Tulsa was the shining jewel of the country for any community back in 1921. It was so spectacular that a mob of angry whites bombed it from the air and burned it to the ground. In the process, some 10,000 black people were displaced and 600 black businesses were destroyed in a single day.
C’mon, Atlanta! Let’s get it together before a powerful black political dynasty comes to an end.