This week in local news

City of Atlanta unveils memorial for victims of Atlanta Child Murders 

On Tuesday, June 27, City of Atlanta officials presented the Atlanta Children’s Eternal Flame Memorial, honoring those who lost their lives in a series of murders in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

The new installation includes the names of each of the victims, with a flower placed beneath each name. The piece was created by artist Gordon Huether and can be found at Atlanta City Hall near the corner of Mitchell Street and Washington Street.

This was one of two projects conceptualized by a community task force whose goal is to honor the victims, their families and those who aided in search and recovery efforts. In 2020, the city also showcased the Atlanta Children’s Memorial Portraits at the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

Click through the slideshow for a look at the recent unveiling ceremony. Photos by Kelly Jordan.

— Hannah E. Jones

NPU-N, other groups oppose Hulsey Yard railroad antenna tower

More community and preservation organizations are opposing CSX railroad’s plan for a 70-foot-tall antenna tower in Hulsey Yard.

The tower, which would serve internal railroad communications, would stand close to significant historic sites and districts including Oakland Cemetery, Cabbagetown and the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills. The Atlanta Preservation Center and Easements Atlanta previously voiced opposition. 

Joining that opposition following votes and letters this month were Neighborhood Planning Unit N, the Cabbagetown Neighborhood Improvement Association (CNIA), and The Patch Works Art & History Center. CNIA said in a letter of opposition to CSX’s planning consultant that  “the proposed project will alter and diminish our district’s integrity and its historic industrial features of 1881-1956…” 

A public comment period ended on June 26. The project will ultimately be reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission.

– John Ruch

100 Black Men of Atlanta’s 2023 holds gala at Omni Hotel

After a three-year hiatus, the 100 Black Men of Atlanta put on quite a show on June 24 at its 2023 gala at the Omni Hotel downtown.

The Atlanta organization was founded in 1986 by Nathaniel Goldston III, who convened 18 of his friends and associates to support his vision of starting a community empowerment organization to focus on Atlanta’s underprivileged youth.

It was an all-star evening that began with Jermaine Dupri, CEO of So So Def Recordings, receiving the Andrew Young Lifetime Achievement Award from the namesake of the award.

“We’ve come a mighty long way,” former Atlanta Mayor Young said during his remarks about 100 Black Men of Atlanta. “It hasn’t been an easy struggle.”

Carolyn and Andrew Young sit at a banquet table, Reggie McKnight stands behind them.
Special guests Carolyn and Andrew Young visit with Reggie McKnight, Google’s head of global social impact, at the 100 Black Men of Atlanta’s gala June 24 (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Young then introduced Dupri, calling him “one of the most successful producers of music.” Dupri also is the first musician to have received the lifetime achievement award.

“I’m from Atlanta for real,” Dupri said. “Coming from Atlanta and being honored with the Andrew Young Award – it’s pretty amazing for me. All I was trying to do was get out of College Park.” He then said he was glad his parents were at the gala to see him get the award.

Other honorees included Kevin James, president of Morris Brown College; Aundell “AJ” Terrell Jr., NFL cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons; Jay Bailey, president and CEO of Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs; and  Joshua Byrd Sr. and his uncle, Richard Byrd for their work to reduce gun violence.

The top event sponsors were Google and Delta Air Lines.

— Maria Saporta

Southwest Atlanta mourns loss of System 5 Electronics CEO Maceo Brown

Earlier this month, entrepreneur and philanthropist Maceo Brown passed away. 

Headshot of Maceo Brown
Maceo Brown (Photo courtesy of System 5 Electronics)

Brown’s company, System 5 Electronics, is the largest African American owned and operated security and alarm monitoring company in Georgia. 

He was also the founder of MACEO’s Kids (Mentoring, Aspiring, CEOs), which paired young people with mentors in an effort to foster an entrepreneurial spirit. 

“Thank you for your many words of encouragement, prayers, condolences and expressions of love shown for my husband,” Brown’s wife, Alicia Hutchison-Brown, said in a statement. “I am grateful that God gave me the opportunity to share 34 years of his life.” 

— Allison Joyner

Chamblee celebrates July 4th with concert, fireworks display

The City of Chamblee is celebrating the 4th of July in a big way. 

Everyone is invited to a day of great music and fireworks display on  July 4, at 6:30 p.m. in front of City Hall on Broad Street, Chamblee, Ga.

Flyer for Chamblee Summer Concert Series, July 4, 6:30 pm, Downtown Chamblee with The Geek Squad Band

Performances by Leah Belle Faser and the Geek Squad Band are scheduled to appear, and food vendors and a kids zone will be present.

Due to limited parking, Uber vouchers for a free ride to the event are here

Attendees are permitted to bring coolers; however, coolers must be smaller than 30 quarts, and outside alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Golf carts, motorized vehicles, drones or consumer fireworks of any kind are not allowed on the premises. For more information, click here.

— Allison Joyner

Presenting Honorees named for annual Beloved Benefit in August

The Same House, a new community services movement that aims to help bridge divisions and improve economic mobility for underprivileged residents, announced the Atlanta leaders who will serve as Presenting Honorees at the 2023 Beloved Benefit.

The Presenting Honorees include:

  • Home Depot CEO Ted Decker and his wife, Cathy
  • Georgia Power CEO Kim Greene and her husband, Ted
  • Chick-fil-A, Inc. President Tim Tassopoulos and his wife, Maria

Peach Bowl Inc. CEO Gary Stokan and his wife, Tia, and Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation President Fay Twersky and her wife, Jill Blair, are co-chairs of the event.

Musician John Legend will headline the August 24 celebration, which will also serve as a fundraiser for its beneficiaries, including Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs, First Step Staffing, Urban League of Greater Atlanta and Westside Future Fund. Additional nonprofit recipients are to be announced.

The Beloved Benefit is based on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s idea of a Beloved Community and brings together leaders, changemakers and experts from all different corners of the city. Since its inception in 2019, the program has raised more than $12 million for local nonprofits addressing the community’s needs.

In January, organizers launched The Same House, which will host the annual program along with events throughout the year. The name is inspired by a speech John Lewis gave at the 2019 Benefit, saying, “We’re one people. We’re one family. We all live in the same house.”

For more about the upcoming Beloved Benefit, click here.

— Hannah E. Jones

Over 1,000 items donated to Clarkston’s refugee community

In honor of World Refugee Day on June 20, HWPL Georgia and Friends of Refugees for Empowerment and Education (F.R.E.E) hosted a resource distribution event to support Clarkston’s local refugee community. 

Hosted at F.R.E.E’s headquarters in Clarkston, the teams handed out more than 1,000 clothing items and hygiene supplies.

A kid looks through racks of clothes hanging outside.
About one-third of Clarkston’s residents were born outside of the U.S. (Photo courtesy of HWPL Georgia.)

Often referred to as the “Ellis Island of the South,” the 1.4-square-mile city is home to residents of over 40 nationalities who speak 60 languages. Dana, a 12-year-old from Chad, shared, “I’m thankful for the organizations that come out to support us. There is a lot of conflict in my country, but I’m happy to be in a place I can be with others who can relate. I am very thankful for the clothes and help today.”

In the release, HWPL Volunteer Coordinator Alex LeConte said, “We are really here to try to raise awareness of bringing more aid and support to the refugee community. Especially we thought these efforts were necessary as there has been a 2.13 percent increase of refugees here from 2020. These people are coming from places of real war, and they need help from surrounding communities to start a new life where they can feel safe.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Explore Gwinnett awards $183K in arts grants

Gwinnett County’s tourism agency has awarded $183,000 in grants to many organizations and projects.

Explore Gwinnett is providing the grants for 2023 through its Gwinnett Creativity Fund. The agency is funded by taxes on hotel and motel stays.

A total of $74,000 in operational grants will go to seven organizations: Atlanta Harmony Celebration; Aurora Theatre; the Hudgens Center for Art & Learning; Lionheart Theatre; Live Arts Theatre; Suwanee Arts Center; and Weird Sisters Theatre Project.

A total of $109,000 in grants will go to 17 arts and cultural projects:

  • African American Culture & Arts, Annual Festival
  • Aurora Theatre, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”
  • Fezziwig Foundation, “Into the Woods”
  • Fresh Films, Summer Creative Cred Workshops
  • Gwinnett Ballet Theatre, “Nutcracker”
  • Gwinnett Classic Theatre, “Waiting for Lefty”
  • The Hudgens Center for Art and Learning, Permanent Collection Project
  • JapanFest
  • Norcross Gallery & Studios, Citywide Photo Contest
  • Lilburn Elementary School, Inclusive Playground Mural
  • Live Arts Theatre, “The Taming”
  • Spectrum Autism Support Group, Autism-Friendly Arts and Musical Playground
  • Sugarloaf Ballet, “Hansel and Gretel”
  • Suwanee Arts Center, Summer Art Camps
  • Suwanee Performing Arts, “Broadway in the Park”
  • Suwanee Public Arts Commission, “Pierce’s Corner Mural”
  • Weird Sisters Theatre Project, “Pros and Cons of Killing Your Cult Leader”

– John Ruch

GSU to make shuttle bus all-electric with federal funding

Georgia State University (GSU) has received more than $22 million in federal funds to make its Panther Express shuttle bus service fully electric. 

The bus service loops among the neighborhoods of Downtown, Fairlie-Poplar, Sweet Auburn and Summerhill.

The $22,286,745 grant is through the Federal Transit Administration’s Low- and No-Emission and Bus and Bus Facilities programs. It is part of roughly $1.7 billion in funding approved in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The GSU grant was the only such funding award in Georgia.

GSU says it will use the grant to buy 18 electric buses and charging equipment.

“This grant will allow us to transition to an all-electric bus fleet, reducing emissions, protecting the environment and enhancing the health of our students, faculty and staff,” said GSU President M. Brian Blake in a press release. “It is another way we are prioritizing sustainability here at Georgia State, as well as continuing a sense of placemaking for our community.”

– John Ruch

Berry College’s Cyndi Court to lead Tiger Woods’ charity

The Irvine, Ca.-based TGR Foundation has named Cyndi Court as its new CEO.

Court has served as chief development officer and vice president of advancement for Rome-based Berry College for the past six-and-a-half years.

Court is a seasoned nonprofit leader with more than 25 years of executive experience in youth development and nonprofit management. She will lead the TGR Foundation as it continues its mission to empower students to pursue their passions through education. 

Cyndi Court (Photo courtesy of the TGR Foundation)

At Berry, Court oversaw institutional advancement, philanthropic communications and alumni engagement, including a comprehensive capital campaign that included the renovation and construction of major academic facilities. She also created and secured the endowment for a new scholarship program for students experiencing adverse life circumstances and significant financial need and initiated new corporate partnerships for diverse students in STEM. 

“I’m proud to welcome Cyndi as CEO of TGR Foundation,” Tiger Woods, founder of the TGR Foundation, said in a statement. “This is an exciting time with our program expansion into Los Angeles and Philadelphia underway. I’m confident Cyndi’s leadership will help deepen our impact on the students and communities that we serve.” 

Prior to her role at Berry, Court served in executive positions at Harvard Group International, Special Olympics International, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Arthritis Foundation.

“Cyndi generates momentum,” said Steve Briggs, president of Berry College, in a statement. “She is strategic in her vision and focused when it comes to the details. She inspires others to action. We will miss her leadership on our executive team, but joining TGR Foundation as CEO is a marvelous opportunity for Cyndi to make an impact and we wish her every success.” 

— Maria Saporta

Tether yourself July 7 at Underground

Underground Atlanta’s July First Friday is offering “An Interactive Future,” described as a unique, data and AI-driven art experience. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. and performances begin at 9:00 p.m. One of the featured pieces is Jordan Young’s Tethered Together, which collects user’s movement via wearable tech and turns the movement into sound and music.

Reserve free tickets here.

— Maggie Lee

Maggie Lee is a freelance reporter who's been covering Georgia and metro Atlanta government and politics since 2008.

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