The battle for political power in ‘America’s blackest city’

One woman said bluntly that the mayor and city council have to come out and get along. “I would like to see safeguards put in place to eliminate public infighting going on in the city,” she said.

There are, after all, all stressed and pressing matters for the city. The population is skyrocketing. Citizens of South Fulton are on average and relative to the state and nation somewhat wealthier and somewhat better educated and a higher percentage of them own their homes compared to residents of metropolitan areas of South Fulton. ‘Atlanta and Fulton County. Violent crime is down. But its only comprehensive care hospital closed earlier this year, and residents are also complaining about a shortage of grocery stores, sit-down restaurants and bank branches and the like.

Away from City Hall, in response to the current mayor’s rhetoric, the former mayor and current members of the city council and local state lawmakers reject his pleas for the ‘blackest city in America or “deliberately black”.

“I think it emphasizes the wrong thing,” Edwards said.

“They’re not positive for the city,” Bruce, one of the state officials, said of the terms. “When we created the town of South Fulton, we didn’t create it to be the blackest town. Turns out it’s so because that’s who lived there.

“Wakanda Forever?” fellow state representative. said Debra Bazemore. “I’m like, ‘You know this is fictional, right? You know this was a film?’”

“I was born and raised in Savannah,” said board member Helen Willis, “and they didn’t become one of America’s top tourist spots by selling it as a majority-black city.” She recalls a recent baffling conversation with a developer. “One of the things that was shared with me was, ‘I wanted to come in and meet the leaders, but I have to be honest with you: when I heard ‘Black on Purpose’, when I heard ‘The Blackest City in America me being Caucasian it was very intimidating for me Does that mean you don’t welcome me because I’m Caucasian and you’re ‘the blackest city’ you are you “Black on Purpose”? And I had to spend time explaining to this person who wants to expand their business in our city and is doing a great job with the business they currently have that, no, it’s not It’s not the vision, and it’s not the narrative of the majority of the board members. It’s a person. It’s not how we feel.”

“My grandparents were sharecroppers. My great-grandparents were slaves. Does that mean I have to lead with it in every conversation all the time? No,” said board member Natasha Williams. “I think when you start focusing on the things that divide us, you lose sight of the things that unite us.”

She stressed in an interview with POLITICO the importance of adding to the city’s business tax base by attracting certain types of well-known businesses.

“Starbucks, if you’re listening, I have room for you!” she laughs.

It’s a typical approach that infuriates Kamau.

“The policy of ‘black on purpose’ is to stop begging,” he told POLITICO. “If Starbucks doesn’t, then we’re starting our own cafe,” he said. “Now if you needed to say ‘Starbucks’ because you think white people’s ice cream is colder, that’s a different conversation. If you need the Starbucks name on it to make you feel valuable, then that’s another conversation we need to have.

Same thing, according to Kamau, with grocery stores — Publix, Kroger, all the big chain supermarkets people say they want to see in South Fulton. He basically described a food cooperative. What kamau wants instead of external recruitment is internal development – a kind of socialism specific to South Fulton. “Yes,” he said. “Afrosocialism”.

He understands that he can’t do any of this without the buy-in of the majority of the seven-person city council. Currently, he doesn’t have anyone’s buy-in. And without allies on the city council, he has virtually no power. One seat is up for grabs in November — a vacant seat because Mark Baker left to run in a congressional primary and lost — and Kamau is backing Drew de Man, a white Working Families Party-endorsed socialist farmer with a handlebar mustache. .

“I pray he wins,” Kamau said.

“What happens when I walk in?” de Man told POLITICO. “They know I’m Khalid’s supporter, so it’s a bit sticky. But they won’t want to come across as reluctant to work with the “diversity” candidate. I will show up in good faith and work with people. I’m a consensus builder and can usually be quite persuasive.

And then four more seats are up next year. And Kamau has three more years as mayor. “I need four voices to get anything through,” he said, “and so that’s really where we’re going to put it to the test.”

The question, then, for the mayor and council, and for the charter commission, is not so much what South Fulton is in five years, but what it will be in five years, or 10 or 20 , from now on. For many, if not most residents, more important than philosophical questions about darkness are the cogs of governance, the more traditional, even mundane markers of municipal health as well as the mundane, people-focused signifiers. “amenities” of middle-class wealth. And that in turn matters to the city because the decades-long migrations of black people into and around Atlanta that have always influenced the form and tenor of black political power ultimately made South Fulton, and made it this which is. But migrations, by definition, are not static. They are not permanent. There is always the Next “Next great migration”, and that too is a less interesting part of the current discourse here.


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