Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2008

Went to the march downtown Atlanta today.

I had my choice of groups to march with: The Peace and Justice Group, Save Grady Hospital, or the Stop Family Violence group. I went with the third, though I had made plans with the second, and used a sign from the first group.

Yes, it was kind of a confusing beginning. First of all, I couldn't find any of those three groups. I stood on a corner of Peachtree Street near the Peachtree Center MARTA station. There was a woman holding a "Healthcare not Warfare" sign so I asked her where the Peace and Justice group was. Yes, it was really random, but who knows? She might have actually known. But she didn't. Still, we chatted and it turned out that she and her daughter volunteer with refugees and so I gave them my business card. Clearly, I need to get out of the house more often. First at Knit Night and now at the MLK march, I got some good networking done.

Eventually they found their group (the Unitarian Universalists, I think) and I walked north up the street. I figured I might meet up with some people I actually knew, and I did. I found the Stop Family Violence group. They were standing down one of the side streets. When the march comes by, we'll step out at the end and join it. This is the group waiting across from us:

It's the young men of Project Manhood at North Clayton High School. What's not shown are the Girl Scouts behind them. At one point the girls were doing jumping jacks (or should it be jumping jills?) to stay warm. Because it was around freezing and the girls were wearing skirts

The march was supposed to start at 1pm, but of course it didn't. The speechifying by the politicos apparently ran long. It was cold (right around freezing) and eventually I couldn't feel my toes. At 2pm, the march finally came by and here are pictures of the groups that passed us before we could join.

Yes, there actually are unions in Georgia, but not many.

Oh, look: it's the Save Grady Hospital group. I went over to say hey and then went back to the Stop Family Violence group:

Basically Grady Memorial Hospital is the public hospital, serving everyone regardless of ability to pay, and the only level one trauma center in northern Georgia. When victims get airlifted to a hospital, it's Grady they're taken to, not any of the dozen or so other hospitals in the Atlanta metro area. It's in financial trouble and no agreement about what to do to save it.

This was a group of Girl Scouts. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the kids dressed as the cookies.

There were signs for the other candidates, but I didn't take those pictures.

Then it was our turn to join and here are the pictures I took along the way.

Here's Youth Pride, and a sign for their hotline for LGBTQ youth:

In case you can't see, the sign says "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

It was interesting to walk down Peachtree Street and Auburn Avenue, roads I normally drive down. Walking gave me time to really look at the buildings and notice the new shops and restaurants moving in. Auburn Ave used to be the center of black culture and then it went into decline. Having the interstate built right over the middle certainly didn't help.

But now it looks like it has a chance of really making a comeback, with new shops and condos. With the housing downturn, though, I don't know what will happen.

The march ended at the MLK center. And here's a little something to counteract against all the uplift and hope of the march. The placard says "Jesus Lord of All or Hell Awaits You!" Nice, eh?

The tented platform is shown below for more speechifying, placed on Auburn Avenue, right between the MLK center run by the National Parks Service and the MLK center run by the King family. The 2 MLK centers are located across the street from each other and next to the old and new Ebenezer Baptist Churches, across the street from each other. By that time, it was 3pm and I was frozen and decided to go home.

I parked at the Inman Park-Reynoldstown MARTA stop,which is the next stop over from the MLK stop. My brain must have been frozen because I thought "it's only one stop from where I'm at now, I'll just walk there." It turned out to be a mile away.

However, like the walk down Auburn, I got to really see the shops and new condos built along DeKalb Avenue, instead of driving past at 55 miles an hour.

One place was Polly on the Avenue, a pottery studio that I've driven past for over 10 years. Today, Polly came out to walk her dog as I walked past and I finally had a chance to ask about it. It's Polly's pottery studio, where she makes items for art fairs and she supplies the sugar bowls at the Flying Biscuit, a local bakery. She's having a little open house party in February and she gave me an invitation.

So all in all, it was a great day. Not quite a day off, not quite a day on, (MLK Day is a day on, to volunteer at community events to make the "beloved community" better). But a good day, any way you look at it.

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