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Reporter’s Notebook: Paying tribute on 60th anniversary of ‘I have a dream,’ Morris Brown receives largest grant in 20 years, ARC recognizes six local communities for sustainability efforts

The week in local news.

The Lunar New Year will begin on Sunday, Jan. 22, marking the first new moon of the lunar calendar. The celebration spans the length of the moon cycle, ending on the full moon 15 days later. There are a variety of celebrations around the city and metro area, including the lantern show at Atlantic Station and Stone Mountain’s first-ever Lunar New Year festival.

On to other local news:

James Wheeler, director of exhibitions for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, stands in front of the new rotating exhibition that spotlights the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Paying tribute on 60th anniversary of ‘I have a dream’

With the dawning of the new year and the national King holiday, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights is looking back six decades to 1963 — a pivotal year for the civil rights movement.

The rotating collection of Martin Luther King Jr.’s effects at the Center’s Voice for the Voiceless exhibition is taking a deep dive into the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, that occurred on Aug. 28, 1963.

Lance Wheeler, the Center’s director of exhibitions, said 1963 also is significant for other reasons.

For example, Medgar Evers was assassinated on June 12, 1963, and James Meredith, a civil rights activist and the first African American to attend the University of Mississippi, graduated that May.

Most of the exhibition revolves around the March on Washington, from the planning and logistics to the speakers and the organizations that sponsored it. Wheeler noted, though, that one of the most significant elements of the March was the participation of the ordinary citizens — white and Black as well as young and old.

“I wanted to really capture the people who were part of the event,” Wheeler said. “When we think about this historic day, we often think about the leaders. But I wanted to capture the people of all walks of life — from national origin, gender, age and race. The day was a people’s movement. We wanted to capture that in these photos.”

The exhibit also features King’s prepared speech for the March, which did not have the famous “I have a dream” refrain. During the speech, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, who was in the crowd, shouted to King: “Tell them about the dream.”

King then departed from his prepared speech to talk about his dream. King had used the “I have a dream” refrain on at least two other occasions – on June 23, 1963 in Detroit and during a speech in Rocky Mount, N.C. delivered on Nov. 27, 1962.

The exhibit will be in place for six months. But as part of its standing exhibits, the Center also has a large room dedicated to the March on Washington including a video wall that makes visitors feel they are part of the event.

— Maria Saporta

ARC recognizes six local communities for sustainability efforts

The Atlanta Regional Commission recently certified six local cities and counties through its Green Communities Program — a sustainability program that helps local governments reduce their environmental impact. The following Georgia communities received certification for their environmental efforts: 

The 2022 Green Communities honorees achieved the following certification levels:

  • City of Chamblee – Upgraded to Platinum
  • City of Decatur – Recertified Platinum
  • City of Suwanee – Upgraded to Silver
  • Cherokee County – Upgraded to Silver
  • Fulton County – Upgraded to Gold
  • Gwinnett County – Recertified Platinum

A total of 16 metro Atlanta governments — 11 cities and five counties — are certified under ARC’s Green Communities Program.

“The 2022 Green Communities have played an instrumental role in moving metro Atlanta towards greater sustainability and environmental resilience through innovative and community-informed projects,” ARC Natural Resources Managing Director Katherine Zitsch wrote in a press release. “These communities demonstrate exemplary dedication to building a stronger, greener region.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Fountain Hall Morris Brown Atlanta

$500,000 will go towards the restoration of Fountain Hall. (Photo by Kelly Jordan.)

Morris Brown receives largest grant in 20 years

Earlier this week, Morris Brown College along with U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff, announced a federal grant for its academic programs and the restoration of Fountain Hall.

Totaling $2.9 million, the HBCU accepted its largest multimillion-dollar grant in over 20 years. 

“These funds will absolutely help to catapult Morris Brown College into its glorious future,” said Kevin James, president of Morris Brown College. 

Of the funds rewarded, the school mentioned that $2.4 million will be used to support academic programs and create a center for teaching and learning for current students to get academic help. 

The remaining $500,000 will go towards the restoration of Fountain Hall.

— Allison Joyner

John Lewis Atlanta 2021

Stacey Abrams at the Atlanta Downtown Reimagine the Legacy event. (Photo by Kelly Jordan.)

Stacey Abrams among prominent advisors to new disability rights group

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is among 11 prominent activists who have joined the Advisory Council of the recently launched nonprofit New Disabled South (NDS).

NDS is a Georgia-based disability rights and justice group that aims to unite advocates in 14 states in the South, a region notorious for inequities and discrimination. Founder Dom Kelly coordinated similar advocacy with Abrams’ unsuccessful campaign last year and also at her voting-rights nonprofit Fair Fight Action.

Among the other council members are leaders of the prominent organizations the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the American Association of People with Disabilities, and a former executive director of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights.

“While our organization’s board and staff are all intentionally people with disabilities, I wanted this council to be made up of diverse leaders — some disabled and some not — who could help guide us as we work toward a vision of liberation and justice for disabled folks in the South,” said Kelly in a press release.

Besides Abrams, the Advisory Council members include:

  • Emily Blum, former executive director of the Chicago-area organization Disability Lead
  • Lisa Simms Booth, executive director of the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, D.C.
  • Micaela Connery, co-founder of The Kelsey, a California organization focused on affordable and inclusive housing for disabled people 
  • Brittany Packnett Cunningham, vice president of social impact at BET, an NBC News political analyst, and former co-founder of the Campaign Zero police-reform organization
  • Dahna Goldstein, chief investment officer of Halcyon, a Washington, D.C. organization that supports social enterprises, and co-managing director of the Halcyon Fund
  • Elena Hung, executive director and co-founder of Little Lobbyists, a family-led organization in Maryland that advocates for children with complex medical needs and disabilities
  • Ai-jen Poo, president of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant”
  • Paul Timmons, a longtime disability rights activist, including with the Atlanta Paralympic Congress, who lives with quadriplegia from Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Sara Totonchi, former executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights and a former Abrams campaign advisor
  • Maria Town, president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities

— John Ruch

Morehouse students, MTV create MLK tribute video

Students from the Morehouse College’s Cinema, Television and Emerging Media Studies program along with MTV Entertainment Studios celebrated the life and impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a powerful short film.

As part of their senior transformative storytellers class curriculum, students wrote, produced and delivered a short film for national broadcast that centered around the legacy of the Morehouse alumn.

Set to King’s 1967 speech to students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia, the film showcased the men of Morehouse as well as their peers, faculty, and alumni.

— Allison Joyner

City seeks input on future of public-access Comcast Channel 24

The City is seeking public input on the future of Comcast Channel 24 in a plan to shift from traditional public-access television to a multimedia “community media center.”

City-owned Channel 24 for decades was operated by the nonprofit People TV. As Atlanta Progressive News reported last year, the City took over operations amid longstanding debates about its content and funding. The contract formally ends on June 5.

The City, in 2021, commissioned a “re-envisioning” study for the channel in anticipation of issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for a new operator. 

The City is now accepting public comments to inform the RFP. Comments can be sent through Feb. 25 by clicking here. The City also will hold public input meetings on Jan. 25, 5 to 7 p.m., and Feb. 25, 9 to 11 a.m., both at the Old City Council Chambers at City Hall, 55 Trinity Ave. For more information, see the City website.

— John Ruch

Kohl’s donates $40,000 to Georgia-based pancreatic cancer nonprofit

Purple Pansies, a nonprofit that funds pancreatic cancer research and provides aid for patients and families, has newly received a $40,000 grant from Kohls. 

The donation will support Purple Pansies’ financial grants for metro Atlanta patients to help families pay their medical bills and other related costs. Founded in 2009, Purple Pansies has raised over $4 million for patient support and research. 

“We are honored to have the support of Kohls in providing critical grants to our community and funding for research,” Purple Pansies Founder Maria Fundora said in a release. “We hope that with this grant we can help ease the burden from families in metro Atlanta so they can focus on helping their families heal.”

The Kohl’s grant was made through its A Community with Heart Program, with eight million dollars in grants going to nonprofits across the country. In Georgia, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta were also selected. The full list of recipients can be found here

— Hannah E. Jones

Two historic Black churches in Georgia receive national preservation grants

Two historic Black churches in Georgia are among 35 nationwide receiving preservation grants announced on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

First Bryan Baptist Church in Savannah and Chubb Chapel United Methodist Church in Floyd County are the Georgia recipients of part of the $4 million in money from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. The fund is supported by the Lilly Endowment, a major philanthropy that funds religious, educational, disaster relief and conservative-leaning public policy programs.

“From one-room praise houses to unprecedented metropolitan megachurches, Black churches since slavery times have been the heart and soul of the African American community,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr., a prominent Harvard University professor in literature and history who is a fund advisor. “So, it is inspiring to see the Action Fund’s commitment to preserving their history and their physical structures. After all, these are our sacred sites, which our ancestors built from the ground up, and we must do everything we can to ensure their survival.”

First Bryan has been in continuous service for 234 years, according to the press release, and is considered one of the oldest African-American Baptists churches in the U.S. The grant will fund restoration projects that include roofing, plaster and stained-glass windows.

Chubb Chapel, in the small city of Cave Spring, dates to around 1870 and is the only surviving part of Chubbtown, a settlement built by the free Black Chubb family. The grant will “preserve deteriorating features,” including a bell tower.

For a full list of recipients, see the National Trust’s website.

— John Ruch

CareSource creates new scholarship at Morris Brown College

CareSource, a Medicaid plan serving more than 500,000 Georgians, recently donated $25,000 to create a new scholarship program at Morris Brown College. The program is designed to bolster Georgia’s healthcare workforce by supporting local underserved students. Five in-state students will be selected for the scholarship.

CareSource will also offer internship opportunities for Morris Brown students, with plans to work with other HBCUs in Georgia.

“Morris Brown College is grateful for the support of CareSource, and their commitment to helping students of a historically black college achieve success,” Morris Brown College President Kevin James wrote in a press release. “These funds will go a long way in supporting our students and helping us to rebuild our student population and better serve our community.”  

— Hannah E. Jones

Walter L. Douglas, Jr.

Morehouse Medicine names Operations and Business Affairs Executive Vice President 

Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is welcoming Walter L. Douglas, Jr. as the institution’s executive vice president for Operations and Business Affairs. In this role, Douglas will oversee multiple departments — public safety, information technology, facilities and institutional projects. 

Prior to his new role with MSM, Douglas served as the vice president and COO of Neighborhood Health Services Corporation, overseeing fundraising efforts, marketing and communications, human resources, community development and more.

“We are thrilled that Mr. Douglas will join the Morehouse School of Medicine family,” MSM President and CEO Valerie Montgomery Rice wrote. “Mr. Douglas brings a wealth of talents and experience, which will enhance Morehouse School of Medicine as we grow and strengthen in the years to come.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Additional information about Clayton’s free tax services. (Credit: Clayton County Extension.)

Clayton County offers free tax services to residents

Starting Jan. 31 through Mar. 31, Clayton County Extension Services is offering appointments for free tax preparation services.

To schedule an appointment click here. For more information call (770)473-3945 or send the county an email.

— Allison Joyner

Mike Anderson.

Saint Joseph’s Board announces new Chair

Saint Joseph’s Health System welcomes the new chair of its Board of Directors — Michael Anderson, Georgia Power’s senior vice president of Charitable Giving. Anderson has served on the board since 2013.

The faith-based Saint Joseph’s Health System is Atlanta’s longest-serving hospital, spanning over 140 years.

“I have a long-standing connection to this community and to the mission of Saint Joseph’s Health System,” Anderson wrote in a press release. “I am truly humbled and honored to assume the role of board chair for an organization that I admire, deeply respect and that aligns well with the goals of Georgia Power’s Charitable Giving organization. Providing resources and services to empower people and champion community innovation is a higher calling that is well worth all of our collective efforts.”

In his current position with Georgia Power, Anderson serves as CEO of the Georgia Power Foundation and the Southern Company Charitable Foundation, in addition to Georgia Power Management Council responsibilities. 

— Hannah E. Jones

Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is an Atlanta native and Georgia State University graduate, with a major in journalism and minor in public policy. She began studying journalism in high school and has since served as a reporter and editor for two newspapers. Hannah managed the Arts and Living section of The Signal, Georgia State’s independent award-winning newspaper. She has a passion for environmental issues, urban life and telling a good story. Hannah can be reached at hannah@saportareport.com.


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