Cross-posted from DYFME.com (endorsements excluded).
As one of his last acts in office, Mayor Kasim Reed received a report from an advisory committee regarding Confederate monuments on Atlanta’s public property. The advisory committee had been formed in August 2017 due to the aftermath of Charlottesville, Virginia.
Mayor Reed charged the committee with developing recommendations for moving forward with city-owned Confederate-related monuments and street names. One of the marquee-signature changes would be renaming “Confederate Avenue” to something more appropriate for the “city too busy to hate.”
On July 2, 2018, the Georgia Department of Transportation informed us that Confederate Avenue is still officially and legally identified as Confederate Avenue. It would appear that the new administration helmed by Keisha Lance-Bottoms has not picked up the work that Reed initiated in his final days in office.
It was understood that Lance-Bottoms would need time to get her cabinet in order and make decisions as to the formation of her administration. However it was quite surprising this past week when it was announced that Mayor Lance-Bottoms had cut a deal with the local NFL hosting committee to create artistic murals in the lead up to the 2019 SuperBowl in Atlanta.
“It is really important that we have these lasting reminders in our city, of obviously what the civil rights movement means to Atlanta, but also what arts and culture means,” she said during a Thursday morning press conference.
Those lasting reminders will come in the form of “Off the Wall,” an initiative wherein nine artists will create up to 30 public murals related to civil rights and social justice movements. The project is a partnership between the city, the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee and WonderRoot,
– Becca J. G. Godwin of the Atlanta Journal Constitution
Sure, this is great news–the murals are a nice touch and beautiful tribute–but what about Confederate Avenue, Madame Mayor? As the saying goes, “no good deed goes unpunished.”
Are the murals just another attempt to contextualize history by putting this art near streets named in honor of genocidal war criminals who fought to keep an entire race enslaved? Are these murals just another attempt to sugarcoat the hate?
It’s like Stone Mountain and past attempts to put a freedom bell dedicated to MLK on top of the mountain while leaving its Confederate carvings intact. It doesn’t erase the fact that you’re giving a place of honor to Confederate monuments that inspire hate. To clean the slate, you must remove the hate.
With the ongoing controversy of NFL owners squelching their players’ freedom of speech and right to protest active injustices in this society, the lead up to Superbowl in Atlanta will inevitably be fraught with tension.
Do these murals make up for NFL owners bowing down to President Trump as far as national-anthem protests by its players are concerned? Is it kosher for the Lance-Bottoms Administration to be running cover for the NFL?
International celebrity and local resident, King-of-the-South Rapper T.I. has already announced his intention to boycott the 2019 SuperBowl in Atlanta.
BottomLine: As we approach the first anniversary of Charlottesville, Atlanta would be well advised to complete the work of removing symbols of hate from places of honor and distinction in our communities. Do not tarry…Don’t wait…Don’t sell out to the NFL.