By Maria Saporta
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin believes Atlantans have moved beyond the racial divisions that afflicted the city decades ago.
After reading a position paper of the Black Leadership Forum, thought to have been written by Aaron Turpeau, the mayor felt she had to respond.
In the paper, Turpeau wrote that the black community needs to rally behind on black candidate to prevent a white person from becoming mayor. Specifically, Turpeau expressed concern that Councilwoman Mary Norwood, who is white, could win if the election ends up in a runoff.
To prevent that from happening, Turpeau wrote that the black community needs to support City Council President Lisa Borders because she has the best chance of winning and that the other black candidates need to drop out of the race.
(See earlier post about Borders saying she disagreed with Turpeau’s position paper. Also State Sen. Kasim Reed urged Borders to “denounce such divisive racist language immediately.”)
Mayor Franklin offered another perspective. She disagreed with Turpeau’s description of Atlanta’s first African-American mayor, the late Maynard Jackson.
In his position paper, Turpeau said the 2009 mayoral race would be “just as significant in political terms as Maynard Jackson’s victory in 1973.”
Franklin sent me an email with her thoughts:
“As the current mayor of Atlanta and someone who has sought to represent the best interests of the entire city and all the constituents in my performance, policies and management style, I believe Turpeau has it all wrong and has missed the mark,” Franklin wrote.
”Atlanta is a great city because of the contributions of people of all ethnic, racial, political and social backgrounds,” the mayor continued. “Mayor Jackson was a great urban leader and courageous man of vision. There is no doubt in my mind he would give credit to hundreds of others for his success and would cite other leaders including Andrew Young, Ivan Allen, Sam Massell and William Hartsfield for their significant contributions in public office to grow a ‘brave and beautiful’ city.”
Franklin added that “Jackson opened doors and kept the doors open for all Atlantans and people of good will to participate regardless of race, social status or other political party. His consensus building success is legendary.”
She concluded her email by saying: “Turpeau tells a lopsided version of the history of Atlanta politics of the last 40 years and the civic history of Atlanta for decades.”