Monthly Archives: September 2017
On Monday, Sept. 18, The Labor Forum on WRFG 89.3FM gets an update from Houston activists about the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey on working class and poor communities that continues to worsen as clean-up and recovery pass their neighborhoods by.
Secunda Joseph with BLM HTX has been engaged in grassroots emergency relief efforts in Black and Brown areas of the city and Gloria Rubac, a long-time death penalty abolitionist and prisoner rights activist, played a key role in bringing attention to the plight of thousands of people held in jails and prisons as the flood waters were rising.
This interview will begin at 4:15 and end at 4:55pm.
The Labor Forum airs every Monday from 4-5pm eastern on WRFG 89.3FM. For additional information, please see http://www.wrfglaborforum.org
On Sunday, Sep 10, Hate Free Decatur held a march and rally to focus on taking down the monument to white supremacy that stands in the city square. The march to the monument began at the Beacon Municipal Center, an historic place in the city of Decatur. What is now a community center is where the city’s African-American public schools – Herring Street School, Beacon Elementary, and Trinity High – once stood.
Known as “the Bottom” in its earliest days, when it was settled by freed slaves after the Civil War, this square mile of Decatur was the site of a thriving African-American community of homes, business, churches, and schools. In the early part of the 20th century, the area became known as “Beacon Hill” or just “Beacon.” Like any small community, it had its own landmarks, characters, business and community leaders, and other common threads that formed a rich fabric of life.
The oldest African-American congregation in Decatur, Antioch AME Church, was founded by freed slaves in 1868. In 1882, Thankful Baptist Church was established in a modest log house. Mother Burnett established Lilly Hill Baptist in her home in 1913. Despite challenges Beacon churches have grown in size and prominence. Churches continue to be important places for the whole community to gather and come together.
The first school for African-Americans in Decatur was a small parochial school started by a Presbyterian minister. In 1902, the first public school for African-Americans opened. That school relocated in 1913 and became known as Herring Street School. With support from the community, the school expanded and was rebuilt as Beacon Elementary School and Trinity High School in 1956 and 1957. Although the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that segregated schools were unconstitutional, it would be 18 years before Decatur’s public schools were completely integrated.
Despite the scarcity of resources available to them, teachers formed a Teachers’ Club at Herring Street School to provide college tuition scholarships for their students. Teachers and school administrators were widely respected throughout the Beacon community, and school principals were admired civic leaders.
The fight against apartheid segregation had long been waged in Decatur’s Beacon community but it began to coalesce as a movement around 1950 with formation of the Decatur Colored Citizen League. In 1955, the DeKalb Chapter NAACP was organized in Decatur. In the early days, the NAACP was often referred to as “the movement” for fear that affiliation with the organization could cost you your job, or worse.
One of Decatur’s most prominent citizens, Mayor Emerita Elizabeth Wilson, helped knock down many racist barriers in the city, and continues to work to maintain the history of the Beacon community. She worked closely with the Decatur Colored Citizen League and the NAACP, and became the first African-American city commissioner and mayor of the City of Decatur. After moving to Decatur in 1949, Wilson was at the forefront of efforts to integrate Decatur schools, acted as a state and national PTA officer, and played a key role in founding the Beacon Hill Clinic and the Oakhurst Community Health Center. Wilson continues to dedicate her life to making positive change in her community.
The Beacon area continued to survive despite attempts by the city to destroy it. The policy of what was called “urban renewal” began in the late 1930s. A residential and commercial area was cleared to build one of the earliest public housing efforts in the country. Development expanded in the 1960s. Families and businesses were again displaced to make way for the Swanton Heights housing project and other public developments including the new Decatur High School, and the county courthouse.
Decatur’s African-American community faced the destruction of their homes and businesses and the attempts to erase its history with strength, resilience, and organization. When we gathered last night at Beacon Municipal Plaza, Mawuli Davis, an organizer with Hate Free Decatur and leader of the Beacon Hill branch of the NAACP told us we were standing on sacred ground. With gentrification all around us, especially in the city of Decatur, we must work to honor and preserve the history of African-Americans who waged a relentless struggle against white supremacy while we continue the fight against white supremacy and all other forms of oppression in the present.
The movement against all forms of white supremacy grew in strength and visibility following the Aug. 12 mass resistance to a neo-Nazi, KKK rally in Charlottesville, Va. and the murder of anti-racist activist, Heather Heyer by one of the bigots.
Large demonstrations have taken place from coast to coast connecting the hundreds of years of mass genocide of indigenous peoples, African slavery, KKK terrorism and Jim Crow segregation to today’s mass incarceration, income inequality and poverty wages, and police killings.
“Nothing Great About Hate” March – September 10, 6-8pm
Decatur, GA – Hate Free Decatur, the grassroots group which coalesced around the call to remove the white supremacist monument to the Confederacy in Decatur Square, proudly announces a coalition-led march and rally calling for the immediate removal of the monument from the square.
The County Commissioners know without a doubt that this monument was erected during Jim Crow for the express purpose of terrorizing black residents of DeKalb County. By allowing it to remain, the Commissioners are complicit in the “lost cause” of rewriting the history of the Civil War to hide the centrality of slavery. Keeping this monument in front of the old courthouse continues to glorify Confederate and Jim Crow racism and subjugation of an entire race of people. If the County cannot act to remove this overt symbol of white supremacy, how can its citizens trust it that it will take action against the systems of the same?
Hate Free Decatur is working not only to remove of this symbol of white supremacy but also to challenge the current manifestations of white supremacy and institutionalized racism in our community. These vestiges of white supremacy exist in our school systems, law enforcement practices, immigration laws, and housing and economic development policies. Only by confronting these issues head-on will we make a truly welcoming, diverse, and compassionate community.
The “Nothing Great About Hate” March and Rally begins at 6pm on September 10. Marchers will gather at the Beacon Municipal Plaza, 105 Electric Ave., Decatur, and hear from speakers representing:
Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (Carlos Medina)
Council on Islamic American Relations (Edward Mitchell)
Atlanta North Georgia Labor Council (Katie Foster)
City of Decatur Students
Jewish Voice for Peace
Oakhurst Presbyterian Church
After a march to the monument in Decatur Square, the rally will continue with speakers including:
Beacon Hill NAACP (Mawuli Davis)
DeKalb NAACP (Teresa Hardy)
DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson
Flat Rock Archives (Johnny Waites)
Freedom University (Rafael Aragon)
Imam Nadim Ali
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (Lovette Thompson)
Co-Sponsors of the event are:
Create Community 4 Decatur: Black Lives Matter
Beacon Hill NAACP
DeKalb County NAACP
Oakhurst Presbyterian Church
Georgia Alliance for Social Justice
Endorsing organizations include:
Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Council on Islamic American Relations
Atlanta Jobs with Justice
Women Watch Afrika
Disabled Queers in Action
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
GA Not 1 More Coalition
Jewish Voice for Peace – Atlanta
Green Party for DeKalb County
Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition
For more information/updates: https://www.facebook.com/ events/1560755320642785/
The Labor Forum on WRFG 89.3FM marks Labor Day 2017 with interviews with Atlanta Fight for $15 low-wage workers following their early morning actions at McDonalds, part of a national strike day to press for a minimum wage of $15 an hour and the right to join a union. The rising up of poverty wage workers across the country has altered the course of the labor movement in the US, bringing concrete results through creative direct action and infectious energy. This interview will be from 4:15-4:30.
At 4:30, Big E, a host of a New Orleans “Workers Voice” weekly radio program will join us by phone. The Labor Forum listeners will hear how and why the program was started as we talk about the issues facing working and poor communities in that city, still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
On this Labor Day, we applaud all those “who do the work” and affirm our mission to elevate the voices of working people as we struggle to win true liberation and justice.
The Labor Forum airs every Monday from 4-5pm on WRFG 89.3FM in Atlanta. Your community radio station for progressive information and quality, hand-picked music thanks all our supporters whose financial donations and volunteer hours have kept WRFG on the air for 44 years.