Will The “Atlanta Way” Survive?

There’s an interesting article in Axios Atlanta this morning by Kristal Dixon. Folks who follow Atlanta politics would be aware of what is known as the “Atlanta Way” which has more or less controlled politics in the city of Atlanta for close to a hundred years. Dixon defines the Atlanta way as an:

“…informal partnership between Black political officials and community leaders and white business and civic members to hash out deals for the good of the city. Its proponents say it has improved the quality of life for Black Atlantans.”

In his book “Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn,” Gary Pomerantz tells of the tension this partnership caused as the Civil Rights movement gained steam. Older Civil Rights leaders in Atlanta wanted to keep doing things the way they had been doing them while younger activists were tired of waiting and wanted results now. Dr. King returned to Atlanta and was able to convince the activists to stick with the Atlanta way, and our city didn’t become another Birmingham.

This tension between the old ways and the desires of activists has returned in the debate over Atlanta’s proposed police training facility. As you’re aware, the training facility was approved by the Atlanta City Council, over loud opposition from numerous activists.

This is the flashpoint that prompts Dixon to ask if it’s time for a new Atlanta way.

  • (Michael Julian) Bond said in more recent times, the Atlanta Way “has taken hold and has resulted in progress … generally for everyone in the city.”

Threat level: That disappeared with the debate over “Cop City,” Bond said, where “there’s been no real communication,” Bond told Axios.

  • “They just kind of show up, and they expect you to know, presumably, from the comments that they make, everything about their issue and that’s not always the case,” said Bond.
  • Bond, whose father Julian Bond was a prominent civil rights leader and served in the Georgia House and Senate, faced the harshest criticism from activists during last week’s Council meeting.

Can the Atlanta way adapt and survive in today’s activist driven political climate? All of Georgia better hope it can. You may not like it, but as Atlanta goes, so goes Georgia.

One Reply to “Will The “Atlanta Way” Survive?”

  1. I think there is a way forward, but it won’t be pretty and it requires leveling up of City Council and City processes. I know there are those who are contributing to this new way, and they encourage me. From where I sit, I can honestly say the right folks aren’t at the table. I’m not the arbiter of what’s right or wrong, just….there’s a LOT of cracks that make me realize some things need to be thrown out, not just repaired. I’m not sure everyone realizes that and the need for a higher level of professionalism in the City. The old way isn’t going to cut it at this point. If we’re selling ourselves as an international city, we need to be able to deliver on that level of playing field.

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