City council candidate calls discrimination on Historically Black University
The Atlanta city council hopeful says he’s being excluded from an upcoming forum hosted by Clark Atlanta University.
By Allison Joyner
Post one candidate for Atlanta city council at large, Brandon Goldberg, says he cannot participate in a Sept. 8 forum at Clark Atlanta University because he will celebrate the Jewish High Holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The school has declined his request to reschedule the event.
“I’m forced to share a disappointing campaign update: I have been excluded from a candidate forum at Clark Atlanta University,” Goldberg said in a press release issued last month.
The forum, hosted by the Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy in the Department of Political Science at CAU, declined to reschedule the event due to logistical reasons. They said the date was selected due to its proximity to early voting and mitigating adverse impacts on student’s schedules.
Goldberg told SaportaReport that when he received the invitation from assistant professor Tammy Greer, he thought it was an oversight. He didn’t know the forum would fall on the same day as Rosh Hashanah.
He said, “The fact that they hadn’t checked the calendar and that I’m the only Jewish candidate running for any of the seats at all, of course, my race is the one that’s scheduled on Rosh Hashanah.”
Meaning the “head of the year,” Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, which precedes the day of atonement, Yom Kippur.
After a series of emails, Goldberg gave Greer suggestions on how he can still make an appearance at the forum, such as changing the date or pushing back the time until the holiday officially ends at 8:31 p.m., but these suggestions were rejected.
Greer gave several suggestions to make concessions for Goldberg’s absence, like having an empty chair on the stage, allowing a spokesperson to speak on his behalf or, submitting a video message to play during the forum. Goldberg wasn’t happy with these alternatives.
In an effort to create dialogue and action within the African American and Jewish communities, like what is going on now with Goldberg, the Atlanta chapter of the American Jewish Committee formed an Atlanta Black/Jewish Coalition.
The American Jewish Committee has formed an Atlanta Black/Jewish Coalition to help the two communities engage in better dialogue.
Co-founded by former Congressman John Lewis, the Atlanta Black/Jewish Coalition campaigned for the renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 1982. It is now a platform for education, outreach and advocacy in the metro area.
As a former steering committee member, Goldberg is an active member of the coalition and the AJC. In a statement given to SaportaReport, the American Jewish Committee said:
We are disappointed that Clark Atlanta won’t move the date of the candidate forum after being notified that it conflicts with a religious observance.
We believe that the relationship between the Black and Jewish communities remains strong and look forward to ensuring a greater awareness of Jewish holidays, especially in relation to how they might conflict with events.
“Diversity is probably one of the most misunderstood topics in this country because of the fact that diversity just simply means the presence of many different voices,” retired diversity and inclusion consultant for Levi Strauss Jeremy Warren said to SaportaReport.
He continued, “the whole idea of valuing diversity is that it comes from the heart and not from the head.”
Goldberg thinks that there is still a way for Clark Atlanta to make this right.
“Change the date of the forum. I think that’s all it comes down to making sure that all five candidates participate together,” he said.
Notably, Clark Atlanta’s motto is I’ll Find A Way Or Make One.
By press time, Clark Atlanta University had not responded to SaportaReport’s request for comment. This story will be updated as new information becomes available.