The Racial Justice Mission Group works as part of Create Community 4 Decatur: Black Lives Matter (sometimes abbreviated to CC4D:BLM), an interfaith group which has met for over a year now. The group was started by members of Oakhurst Presbyterian Church, Oakhurst Baptist Church, and the Atlanta Friends Meeting and now includes people from multiple faiths, multiple cultures, and multiple paths.
Why, in (arguably) the most progressive city in the State of Georgia is there an organization that is part of the Black Lives Matter movement? We’ve heard some stories over the past year that help to explain….
Meredith Gordon, a member of Oakhurst Presbyterian Church, shared this story with us: “I was walking in my neighborhood, (I live in Winnona Park) about half a mile from my house when this happened. As I was walking I saw one police car pull up in front of me. That police officer got out of his car. While I was talking to the first police officer a second police car pulled up in front of me and then a third police car appeared behind me. These three police officers in three separate cars were responding to a call from someone in the neighborhood. The caller said that they saw ‘someone’ aka me in the neighborhood carrying a gun. Apparently the caller saw me as I was walking by Winnona Park elementary school, the school where my daughter was a student. No guns were drawn in this incident. The three police officers saw my coffee mug as… a coffee mug. They told me they had received a call about a suspicious person with a gun. I was concerned about being perceived as a dangerous person in my neighborhood. Particularly because the caller mistook my coffee mug for a gun.” Need we add… Meredith is Black?
And another story: thirty years ago Elisabeth Wilson was forced to relocate after her Black community in downtown was subjected to “urban renewal.” She bought a house a few blocks away from our church and later was elected mayor of Decatur. Today she is flooded with offers to buy her house, as the neighborhood re-gentrifies and realtors assume she will no longer want to live here. And indeed, as home prices in the Oakhurst neighborhood soar, accompanying property tax increases force many who moved here when white flight left homes vacant are now being forced by economics to move again.
These are just a few of the stories we’ve heard at Create Community 4 Decatur: Black Lives Matter. They’ve led our group to focus on four goals for Decatur:
ensuring that our criminal justice system treats everyone fairly, regardless of race;
working for racial justice in our neighborhoods;
exploring and addressing racism in schools;
and combatting the systemic, often unconscious racism that permeates our culture, our community, and our lives.
To support these goals, we have held forums, spoken at City Council meetings, held public demonstrations, and participated in metro-wide coalitions. Join us on the third Tuesday of each month beginning at 7 pm. Check with us for location and details. Contact Leslie Withers at leslie@ML1945.com.