The week in local news.

This weekend marks the 11th annual Juneteenth Atlanta Parade and Music Festival​. The celebration of freedom, unity and equality will be held at ​Centennial Olympic Park from June 16 to 18. The schedule includes a wide variety of activities, including a pageant, 5K race, live music and a televised parade. Click here for more about the upcoming festival and parade.

On to other news from the city and metro area:

Atlanta BeltLine purchases six acres for affordable housing 

The Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. recently invested $4 million into an affordable housing effort near the walking and biking pathway, purchasing a 6.3-acre plot in the Grove Park and Historic Westin Heights neighborhoods. 

The team plans to work in collaboration with the City of Refuge to build affordable multi-family homes on the property. The City of Refuge is an Atlanta nonprofit that connects underserved residents with resources like food, job training and housing.

Situated at 350 Chappell Rd. NW, the new housing development will be near the future Westside Trail Segment 4 and the newly opened Westside Park. It also neighbors the BeltLine’s future 31-acre affordable housing site at 425 Chappell Rd. NW. 

“This is one more meaningful step in the Atlanta BeltLine’s goal to create affordable housing around the corridor, allowing people to have access to greenspace and walkable amenities, creating whole communities where ultimately we hope people can access jobs and services within walking distance of where they live, without the need for a car,” Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. President and CEO Clyde Higgs wrote. “Through this collaboration with City of Refuge, we are making sure all Atlantans will have affordable living options as part of our comprehensive plan for affordability.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Decatur Children’s Book Festival to debut next year

The Little Shop of Stories recently announced that it will launch a Decatur Children’s Book Festival in May 2024. The two-day event is set for May 4 and 5, happening alongside the long-running Decatur Arts Festival.

The upcoming festival will feature children’s picture books, middle school literature, graphic novel characters and young adult literature. Beforehand, some authors will visit local schools to chat with the young bookworms. 

“After hosting authors and illustrators at our bookstore for years, we’re excited to have a child and young-adult-focused festival for all of Decatur to enjoy,” Little Shop of Stories Co-owner Diane Capriola wrote in a release. “We believe an annual children’s book festival will continue to foster excitement around the written word and encourage children and teens to become lifelong readers.”

The program will be held in partnership with the City of Decatur, Decatur Arts Alliance, Decatur Tourism Bureau, Decatur Downtown Development Authority, the DeKalb County Public Library, the DeKalb Library Foundation, the Georgia Center for the Book and Lenz.

— Hannah E. Jones

Ed Bastian and Arthur Blank during the taping of the “Gaining Altitude” conversation at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Special: Delta Air Lines.)

Move over, Oprah. Here comes Ed Bastian

First, he was an accountant. Then an airline executive. Recently, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian has been branching out into the talk show world.

Bastian just kicked off the second season of “Gaining Altitude,” a series of conversations with some of the highest-profile leaders in the country. 

The special guest? Arthur Blank, co-founder of the Home Depot and owner of both the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United. People can watch the interview, held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, on demand. 

The first season of “Gaining Altitude” featured Rosalind “Roz” Brewer, CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance; Raphael Bostic, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; and Ginni Tometty, former president, CEO and board chair of IBM.

Bastian launched “Gaining Altitude” conversations for the benefit of Delta employees during the pandemic. Then the airline realized these insightful discussions could be shared with broader audiences, including customers and community stakeholders.

The second season of “Gaining Altitude” also features new content under its umbrella. The airline is introducing Gaining Altitude Shorts — smaller-scale conversations featuring guests like Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson.

People who want to view Season 1 can watch the conversations on YouTube.

— Maria Saporta

Pat Upshaw-Monteith accepts Atlanta Rotary’s Marion Collier Ross Leadership Award as Stephanie Blank, Rotary’s president, and Tom Chubb listen. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Rotary honors Pat Upshaw-Monteith of Leadership Atlanta

One of the top awards handed out by the Rotary Club of Atlanta is the Marion Collier Ross Leadership Award, named after a lieutenant general in the U.S. Army. Ross, who died in 2003, was an active member of the Atlanta Rotary.

Pat Upshaw-Monteith, president and CEO of Leadership Atlanta, was given the award June 12 partly because of her service as Rotary’s membership chair this past year.

“I said no three times to be membership chair,” Upshaw-Monteith said upon accepting the award from fellow Rotarian Tom Chubb. She then described the role as “challenging” and rewarding.

— Maria Saporta

Trever Arnold and Emily Marx accepting their Shuler Awards in April. (Photos courtesy of the ArtsBridge Foundation.)

Two Georgia students head to Broadway for National High School Musical Theatre Awards

Two Georgia High School students are making their way to New York City for the annual National High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as the Jimmy Awards. In April, both students were selected for best performance by a leading actor and actress in Georgia’s state-wide competition hosted by ArtsBridge Foundation — the Shuler Awards

Now, Trever Arnold from Ringgold High School and Emily Marx of Denmark High School are advancing to the national competition. The Jimmy Awards highlight outstanding student achievement and skill in vocal, dance and acting and this year’s host is High School Musical’s Corbin Bleu. 

“Earning the title of Best Leading Actor at the Shuler Awards was an unforgettable achievement — one for which I am profoundly thankful,” Arnold told SaportaReport. “I am immensely proud to be able to represent Georgia at the Jimmy Awards in New York City, and I’m working every day to hone my abilities to show everyone what I am capable of, to be an act worthy of the Big Apple. The work we put into the Shuler Awards, as well as ArtsBridge’s outstanding help, will be instrumental in making our trip to the Jimmy Awards a success.”

Marx added: “The process from winning the Shuler and moving on to the Jimmy Awards — all the way to preparing for the day I leave — has been crazy yet fulfilling. It started with us filming six different self-taped videos of dancing, singing, acting, and answering interview questions, all in the span of less than a week, which was a wildly exciting and challenging process right off the bat. Whether preparing my four song selections for Jimmy’s week or doing interviews and looking into what I’ll be experiencing, it has ultimately been one of the most amazing experiences ever— and it hasn’t even begun yet!”

Folks can stream the Jimmy Awards on Monday, June 26, at 7:30 p.m. Click here for additional information.

— Hannah E. Jones

The grant was awarded by Governor Brian Kemp. (Photo courtesy of the City of Chamblee.)

Chamblee PD receives grant towards improving public safety

Earlier this month, the Chamblee Police Department was awarded $1.6M in safety grants to help strengthen public safety measures in the community. 

The grant, awarded by Governor Brian Kemp, requires that funds be utilized to supplement law enforcement staffing, support violent crime reduction or community violence intervention programming and invest in technology and equipment to address and respond to community violence resulting from the pandemic. 

A second grant, totaling close to $300,000, will help implement a Co-responder Program pairing experienced mental health care professionals with officers to de-escalate situations when responding to a mental health call. 

“We’re so thankful for these grants which provide welfare and safety of our community,” said Chief Gray Yandura, Interim Police Chief for the Chamblee Police Department. “These will provide great tools which will be implemented in allowing our officers to more effectively provide for the safety and wellbeing of our community by aiding in identifying and following up criminal activity.” 

— Allison Joyner

Trailblazers to be honored at HBCU Performing Arts Awards

On Sat., June 17, the HBCU Cultured Dance and Arts Society hosts its second annual HBCU Performing Arts Awards. 

The ceremony will showcase past and present contributions from Historically Black College and Universities in the performing arts. 

Those honored will be:

  • Dr. Paul T. Kwami, Legendary Director of Fisk University Jubilee Singers
  • Cedric Young, Band Director at Westlake High School
  • James Seda, Band Director at Southwest Dekalb High School
  • Dance Directors Brianna Smart, Jazmine Freeman, Stilwell School of the Arts Dance Company

The event will be filled with live music, artistic performances and food to celebrate the achievements of the arts at HBCU. 

Click here to purchase tickets.

— Allison Joyner

Mary Hall Freedom Village receives grant, holds fundraiser concert

Mary Hall Freedom Village (MHFV) is holding a fundraiser concert on June 17 and has received a $50,000 grant for a career development program.

The Sandy Springs-based nonprofit provides behavioral healthcare and housing to women, veterans and families. 

The grant from the Truist Foundation – an arm of the Truist Financial Corporation bank holding company – will fund “Freedom Academy 2.0,” a career development program for women with such challenges as substance abuse, unemployment and homelessness.

Meanwhile, MHFV is holding a fundraiser concert and dinner for its new Family Services Center. “Music & A Mission,” featuring singer-songwriter Daphne Willis, will be held at Piedmont Center in Buckhead, with tickets starting at $200. For more information, see the MHFV website.

— John Ruch

Alex Delotch Davis. (Photo courtesy of SCAD.)

SCAD FASH names Alex Delotch Davis as new Executive Director 

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) announced Alex Delotch Davis will be their SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion and Film’s new executive director. 

A SCAD alum, Davis will be in charge of operations for the museum’s Atlanta and Lacoste, France locations and has over 15 years of experience as a leading arts marketer, strategist and connector in Atlanta’s vibrant arts and cultural scene.

“I am energized by what is on the horizon for SCAD FASH, the museum is a treasure for the community and it is an honor to amplify the outstanding exhibitions and programming,” Davis said. “I’m also thrilled to be part of an institution that supports the development of artists and cultivates opportunities in creative industries, which aligns very much with my personal and professional values.”

To learn more about SCAD FASH or purchase tickets, click here.

— Allison Joyner

The full summer schedule. (Courtesy of CHRIS 180.)

CHRIS 180 offers free virtual programs for students this summer

This summer, kids, teens and their caregivers are invited to join CHRIS 180’s free virtual programs. These sessions are open to clients and non-clients alike and are geared toward skill-building and social connection.

The online sessions will focus on building self-esteem in middle school, conflict management, regulating emotions and coping with grief and loss. These topics are adapted for each student age group.

“Students may be out for summer vacation, but that doesn’t mean the issues they struggle with – stress, grief, challenges with friends — take a break too,” Brittney Walters, vice president of School-Based Mental Health, wrote to SaportaReport. CHRIS 180’s free summer group program provides a great outlet for students of all ages to not only stay in touch with peers but also learn and develop skills that will help them cope with challenges, implement proactive strategies, and develop tools that can increase self-esteem.”

An acronym for Creativity, Honor, Respect, Integrity and Safety, CHRIS 180 provides trauma-informed behavioral health services and support systems for children, adults and families. The summer program is offered through its School-Based Services initiative. 

— Hannah E. Jones

Derrick Brooms. (Photo courtesy of Morehouse College.)

Morehouse College appoints Brooms as new BMRI Executive Director

Earlier this week, Morehouse College appointed Dr. Derrick Brooms as the new executive director of its Black Men’s Research Institute (BMRI). 

Brooms joins Morehouse from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where he is a professor of Africana studies and sociology and the associate department head of Africana studies.

“As the only higher education institution with a mission to prepare Black men for careers of leadership and service, Morehouse College is uniquely positioned to generate new scholarship centered on Black men and their communities through the BMRI, as well as contribute to conversations and inform policy related to social justice,” Brooms said. 

Funded by a four-year grant from The Andrew Mellon Foundation, the BMRI was created for research, education and the engagement of Black men and their allies on the economic, social, cultural and personal outcomes of issues affecting them the U.S. and internationally.

Brooms will begin his new position on Aug. 1. 

Click here for more information about the BMRI.

— Allison Joyner

Hannah Jones is a 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...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.