By Lucius Gantt
Author Thomas Wolfe wrote a best- selling novel entitled, “You Can’t Go Home Again”. The book was about a writer so it caused me to glance at it.
Recently, I’ve been trying to do what Wolfe wrote that I couldn’t do – I opened an office in my home town of Atlanta!
I knew the city had changed since my school days and college days, but one thing appears to have remained the same.
Atlanta is a big rich town; most Blacks just live in the poorest parts!
Fifty Cent’s TV show and the Blacks playing starring roles have “Power” but the same type of people that ran Atlanta 30 or 40 years ago for all practical purposes, still run the so-called “Black man’s Paradise”!
In my younger days, people like Ivan Allen, Sam Massell and even Trump – like axe handle carrying Lester Maddox called a lot of shots in Atlanta even after Maynard Jackson and others were elected to public office. (Maynard did do great things during his tenure such as making many Black millionaires by getting more Blacks involved in government purchasing transactions)
Today, some Black elected officials are acting more like political swamp creatures than fighters for the people.
In Atlanta, and in many, many other urban communities, Black residents and citizens are being misled, misinformed, bamboozled, judicially jacked and politically punked by greedy developers with highly paid lobbyists!
For instance, take a look at the secret relationship between Blacks and Blank!
I don’t know Home Depot billionaire Arthur Blank, who also owns the Atlanta Falcon football team and the Atlanta United soccer team. He may be a good person but he is a great business man.
Blank got around $200 million from city government to help build a billion dollar stadium for his teams and to keep those teams in Atlanta.
I ain’t mad at Arthur Blank.
I’m upset with elected officials that feel they need to help wealthy businesses and business people with land grabs, tax incentives and customary winks and smiles.
What do government officials get for helping Blank, real estate developers, corporations and other entrepreneurs other than a photo op and a cup of cold Black coffee?
Well, some elected officials get tickets to football and soccer games, some get dinners and lunches at high end restaurants, some get alcoholic beverages at top bars and night spots, some get rides on private aircraft; some get first class trips to international locations and some elected officials will sell the people they represent out for cheap suits and Payless-type shoes!
What do the people get? The people get gentrification, the people get gerrymandering and the people get huge tax increases to pay for the tax cuts and tax incentives given to rich individuals like Mr. Blank and others.
Do the corporations that benefit from government assistance and cooperation contribute to the community? Yes, but they contribute far less than what your government contributes to the companies.
Do the developers that seek government incentives hire people from the community or contract with Black businesses, professionals and vendors? Yes, but never as many people as they should hire and contract nowhere the number of Black businesses and Black professionals that they should do business with!
The communities I grew up in and the neighborhoods I frequented 20 or 30 years ago look and feel nothing like they did in the past. Atlanta is a city permeated with carpetbaggers, transplants and new residents that moved to the city from places around the world.
Community activism is harder to find than a needle in a haystack!
In my teen years, my economic and political philosophy was molded and mentored by The SCLC, The Nation of Islam, The Black Panther Party, The Weathermen, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the group I belonged to, The Black Federation Alliance.
Black activists are scarce in today’s Atlanta. You don’t have to be conscious, militant or radical to scare Atlanta’s political elite. All you have to be is brave, smart, honest and true to the game.
The city should welcome talented, experienced Black businesses and workers who are smart, experienced and proven with a history of political or business successes.
I appreciate when a few celebrated Black officials call meetings to discuss problems associated with gentrification and other political related issues, but the meetings are a little more than what lobbyists call “dog and pony shows” because gentrification, land use and other development issues were recommended and planned 10 or 20 years ago.
Your political leaders should be able to tell you what West End, East Lake, Buckhead, Fourth Ward, downtown and other neighborhoods in Atlanta will look like in the year 2028.
There are Black people in Atlanta that know how government works, know how to get legislation, ordinances and governmental laws passed and know how to get good people elected into office that are not afraid to stand up and speak out for the people.
I set up an office in Atlanta in a prestigious part of town, I met with Georgia’s Democratic leaders and with leaders of other parties and I have frequented SCLC, Concerned Black Clergy and other meetings in Atlanta, and I passed out information about my political consultation, government relations, financial trading and commodity trading businesses to every Atlanta “leader” that would take the in-formation.
However, most were scared to know that some Black people were super knowledgeable about politics.
The majority of Atlanta’s Black politicos want a title or a job. I and most other Blacks that come home to help my Atlanta hometown don’t want a title or a job. We want money.
Keep the titles, jobs, publicity and recognition. The Black professionals that can help the City of Atlanta want the same thing the politicians give to people like Arthur Blank: we want to get paid and we want to earn any compensation we get!