Tours For Justice in Atlanta

The large crowd of students, social activists, and community activists gathered eagerly at the Peoplestown Community Center in Atlanta, Georgia, on a Saturday in March. They were about to get on board for the annual Metro Atlanta DSA (MADSA) bus tour of “Resilience, Tenacity and Self-Determination in Peoplestown, Mechanicsville, Pittsburgh and Summerhill.” Designed to shine a light on inner-city Atlanta and the challenges faced by residents due to rapid gentrification, the tour is co-sponsored by longtime MADSA coalition partners Occupy Our Homes Atlanta (OOHA) and the Peoplestown Revitalization Corporation (PRC). Our tour guides of the evening were Tim Franzen of OOHA and Columbus Ward, president of the PRC.

First stop was the Stanton Oaks community in the Peoplestown neighborhood. Formerly called the Boynton Village Apartments, this facility is privately owned but heavily subsidized by the federal Housing and Urban Development agency. The owner of Stanton Oaks planned to let the property fall into such disrepair that at the end of the HUD contract the federal agency would not renew that agreement. This action would allow the owner to sell units at market rates and turn a taxpayer-subsidized profit.

Everything was going as planned until the tenants, led by Sherise Brown, created the Boynton Village Tenant Association. Once organized, they convinced the management to make the needed repairs to the property and to renew its HUD contract. No longer a blighted property, Stanton Oaks now includes a community center and a play area for children.

Next came the Rosa Burney Apartments. Located in the Mechanicsville neighborhood, this property looked more like a yellow brick prison in need of a facelift than a residence hall. As at Stanton Oaks, residents of Rosa Burney have fought to gain some concessions. With its HUD contract coming up for renewal, the status of the building is still unclear. Deborah Arnold, president of the Rosa Burney Residents Association, vows to fight on to maintain affordable housing and end a rampant bedbug infestation.

In the Pittsburgh neighborhood, we found a once vibrant working-class community marred by boarded-up buildings and blight due to years of disinvestment by the city. In this environment, the “Peace by Piece House” was born.

The “Peace by Piece House” was donated to a group of activists dedicated to creating a meeting place for the community to organize. Built next to a city-owned community garden, the “Peace by Piece House” works to organize in the community with the aid of volunteers and the American Friends Service Committee.

Our final stop was at the residence of Georgia State University professor Tanya Washington in the Peoplestown neighborhood. Washington’s house and many others are on the shortlist to be taken from her through eminent domain and demolished to make way for a pond and possibly student housing for Georgia State University. The removal of this housing would not only displace dozens of residents, but could possibly disrupt the growth the neighborhood has been experiencing.

As conceived by Georgia Tech professor emeritus and MADSA member Larry Keating, whose book on inner-city Atlanta—-Race, Class and Urban Expansion—is a must-read, the tours are designed to show the resilience of communities targeted for destruction and make connections with other activists.

Brandon_headshot.jpgMusician and writer Brandon Payton-Carrillo is a member of the DSA National Political Committee.

This article originally appeared in the summer 2016 (early June) issue of the Democratic Left magazine.

 

 

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

 

Film Discussion: When Abortion Was Illegal

March 26, 2017
· 13 rsvps

Directed by Dorothy Fadiman, When Abortion Was Illegal (1992, nominated for an Academy Award, Best Documentary Short Subject) reveals through first-person accounts the experiences of women seeking abortion before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973. We are one Supreme Court nominee away from a return in many states to back-alley abortions. Join Amanda Williams, Executive Director of the Lilith Fund, to discuss challenges to reproductive justice and abortion access. (Lilith Fund funds abortions for women in need in the Central and South Texas area.) Learn about how to participate in April Bowl-A-Thons to raise funds for low-income women. View the film here for free before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

March 30, 2017
· 42 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

LGBT Activism: A Brief History with Thoughts about the Future

April 01, 2017
· 52 rsvps

Historian John D'Emilio's presentation will do 3 things: Provide a brief explanation of how sexual and gender identities have emerged; provide an overview of the progression of LGBT activism since its origins in the 1950s, highlighting key moments of change; and, finally, suggest what issues, from a democratic socialist perspective, deserve prioritizing now. John co-authored Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, which was quoted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that ruled state sodomy laws unconstitutional. 1 pm ET; 12 pm CT; 11 am MT; 10 am PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Peg Strobel, peg.strobel@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 30 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT. Here's a blog post about PHIT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

April 04, 2017
· 54 rsvps

Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-Chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement.  9 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

What Is DSA? Training Call

April 05, 2017

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Feminist Working Group

April 12, 2017
· 15 rsvps

People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's and LGBTQ issues, especially in light of the new political reality that we face after the elections.  9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

April 16, 2017
· 7 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT.