ATLANTA, GEORGIA – Georgia Resists, a newly formed coalition of civil and human rights groups led a weekend of resistance across Georgia and organized a major demonstration of unity in response to the “Unite the Right” event in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The #GeorgiaResists march, which began at Centennial Olympic Park and concluded at the grave site of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and Mrs. Coretta Scott King in beautiful fashion, brought together people of every ethnicity, every race, every creed, and every religion
The event’s organizers made it very clear why the march was so important and timely. “White supremacy is a sneaky poison that contaminates communities and corrodes institutions. By gathering, marchers [were] able to educate themselves on recognizing it, [learned] more about diverse organizations doing critical social justice work and [exercised] their right to safely speak out against white supremacy,” Anana Harris Parris, a co-organizer and founder of coalition organization SisterCARE Alliance.
In the aftermath of the Charlottesville white supremacists’ rally at University of Virginia, the country underwent several public outcries of Confederate symbols. In the debate, many who claim heritage use their memories of ancestors to support the maintenance of these statues in their current form. However, those who want them removed view the reality a bit differently. Those at the march were for the most part unified behind that of the latter.
Many of the speakers shared a similar desire to remove Confederate monuments and memorials from public spaces, such as city squares and county courthouses. “This effort this weekend is to make sure that Governor Nathan Deal and our representatives in Government at the state, county and municipal levels understand that hate has no sanctuary in Georgia,” said co-organizer Francys Johnson, Esq., Statesboro Attorney, Pastor, and past President of coalition organization Georgia NAACP. “These monuments,” said Johnson, “purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror fueled by white supremacy that it actually stood for.”
The spirit of the march was telling of a much more broader desire to move forward unified in solidarity against white supremacy and institutionalized racism. The conversation wasn’t lazily limited to the removal of Confederate monuments in public spaces, though that still was very much a noted point, but included a much more powerful commitment towards fighting against systemic problems that adversely affect far too many people in this country.
As Tiffany Williams Roberts, Esq., Atlanta-based attorney, charged, ‘you can’t get Confederacy without fed and con.’ The consensus was the ‘real Confederacy’ was voter suppression, mass incarceration, generations of poverty, and exploitation of the poor by the wealthy and ruling elite. Even in this spirit of speaking truth to power, that very commitment seemed to be unwavering.
There was a series of demands that were issued in the moments leading up to the march. Kenyette Barnes, a co-organizer of Georgia Resist and Legislative Director of coalition organization Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, commented, “We have demands including the adoption of hate crime and comprehensive civil rights legislation; revising the statutory protections for Confederate statutes so they can be moved to cemeteries and museums, and more state support for the network of museums that tell the stories of Georgia.”
Overall, the march was less about fighting hate and more about standing in love. The very culture of Atlanta was prevalent throughout, with chants like “Move Trump, Get Out The Way” (alongside Atlanta native Ludacris’ track “Get Out The Way”). Some bystanders mentioned that they did not know it was a march, but more so felt like a ‘big block party that made me feel naturally at home.’
Local law enforcement were present, and were very much so supportive of the will of the citizens of Atlanta. Zero demonstrators were arrested. There was no reported damage to any personal or commercial property. The march was, by definition, a peaceful protest. This is the beauty of America. We are much more powerful together than we ever will be in our differences.
Special Note: None of the march’s organizers, myself included, were paid anything to help organize the march. We all are citizens who were genuinely concerned at the lack of action on part of local and state leadership in response during the wake of the tragic events of Charlottesville. If you would like more information about the Georgia Resists coalition, and its sister organizations, go to http://garesists.org.