The Atlanta Beltline : 22 stories around 22 miles
A little over a year ago nine enraged women came into my life. I had met only one of them, Julie. The other eight were total strangers.
Today I consider these women some of my best friends.
Four or five of them have different color skin than I do. One or two are of a different religious background. One was born in India, another in the backwoods of Mississippi. One is unemployed, another sits on several boards. One is married to a truck driver, another to a high-power attorney.
So why such a motley crew? We found each other when the news hit that our schools could possibly lose accreditation. We had one thing in common: our passion for public schools.
I sit here and watch. My heart aches for what could be.
Fast forward a year: For months the Atlanta School Board has debated on where the lines should be drawn. Which schools should be closed. Which teachers should be eliminated.
The blacks want what the whites in the northside have. “Our schools don’t get what they get!” The northside parents scream that the south gets all the money, “We have to raise our own money to get what the system GIVES them.”
The lines in the sand are drawn deeper and deeper, more scars are formed. Some of the voices are vocal – signs, protests, rallies on the 6:00 o’clock news. Others sit in their kitchens, behind closed doors, circulating petitions to keep their schools intact – protecting what they feel they’ve rightly earned.
The Hispanics listen quietly, nearby, wondering what their fate will be. Some not understanding, not getting past the language barrier. Many taking slanderous hits, but afraid to speak up.
It is because of my relationship with these nine women that I know in my heart that this city can work together. We can pick up Dr. King’s flag and run it further down the course of justice and harmony.
Yesterday, as I walked on the Beltline, a 22-mile dream circling around Atlanta, it came to me that this circle, this old train track around our city, could possible be the tool that could unite us.
Today I submitted my proposal for “22 stories around 22 miles” – a social media project that would elicit stories from all walks of life around the Beltline of Atlanta. If we can begin to share, we can begin to understand.
One step at a time.