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.

 

 

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Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
· 82 rsvps

Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
· 47 rsvps

Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.

Instructor:

Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
  • Create your own elevator pitch about democratic socialism and DSA.
  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org> 607-280-7649.
  • If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt <schmittaj@gmail.com> 608-335-6568.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.

 

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 19 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.