For a Sunday at 3 PM, the passion in Athens-Clarke County Library was undeniably palpable. About thirty community activists—both new and veteran, from numerous backgrounds and organizational affiliations (NAACP, A4E, EJC and others) —came together to discuss next steps following the Anti-Discrimination March organized by Mokah and Knowa Johnson of the United Group of Artists in January. The march undoubtedly called attention to widespread discrimination not just in downtown Athens, but throughout our community, and demonstrated the political power of collective action. However, those that gathered this past Sunday all share the conviction that our work is far from complete.
The Athens Mayor & Commission passed an anti-discrimination resolution on January 5, a key step toward addressing discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, and pregnancy. The resolution, though, is a set of stated commitments lacking the power and enforceability of law. Words in the absence of action, as we know, do little to destabilize the structures and policies that have continually allowed for the invasive creep of discrimination. With this in mind, the diverse group of advocates at Sunday’s meeting united in support of an ACC Human Relations Commission and an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance that will allow for the commitments outlined in the resolution to be enforced. A Human Relations Commission, similar to those already underway in places like Atlanta and Austin, TX, would provide the Athens community with a diverse, representative governmental body set up specifically to hear cases relating to discrimination and to take action to appropriately address these issues.
These goals, though, require legislative action. The importance of your voice and presence in City Hall as these proposals are considered cannot be underestimated.
In preparation for the Town Hall meeting on March 1st, Mokah and Knowa Johnson, alongside Athens for Everyone, have proposed an anti-discrimination sticker campaign to recruit local businesses to pledge to welcome every patron and to stand in approval of the proposed ordinance and Human Relations Commission. It will take a commitment on behalf of local businesses and the solidarity and vocality of the Athens community to show our elected officials just how highly this issue ranks on the community’s agenda. The meeting was a wonderful example of what can happen when a diverse set of voices comes to the table in collective pursuit of a just and equal community. As we chanted just weeks ago, “Injustice anywhere is a problem everywhere.” For this reason, action cannot be delayed.
We urge you to show up to the Mayor and Commission meeting on March 1 at 7 PM at City Hall to voice your support for an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance that will allow for the enforcement of the Anti-Discrimination Resolution and the creation of a Human Relations Commission. As the impassioned group of activists at Sunday’s gathering expressed, it is through solidarity, education, and community & legislative action that justice comes to bear.
February 12, 2016
The Anti-Discrimination Follow-up Meeting took place on Sunday, February 7th at the public library
The Mayor and Commission meeting will take place on:
Tuesday, March 1st, 7pm
301 College Ave
Athens, Georgia 30601
If you believe in this cause, please sign our petition.