5 Things We Learned From #CommunitySpeaksATL




Last night, many supporters of slain Missouri teen Michael Brown gathered at historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia for #CommunitySpeaksATL

A community town hall meeting, the purpose of last nights event was to discuss issues like police brutality, profiling and more. Attorney General Eric Holder was the guest speaker. Holder made this stop the first on a cross-country mission to speak about the issues concerning the people.

After sitting through the discussion last night, here are 5 points we walked away with

1. The youth are tired of being ignored

Working with the Community Voters Project and Vote Mob this year helped me understand something that many established organizations have yet to grasp. The youth of this generation are tired of not being heard.

Like generations before, the youth are looked at as a confusing group of people who couldn’t understand the complexities that stood in front of them. On the contrary, they understand pretty well. They are the ones facing down mounting debt, lack of jobs and hope.  Last night, those voices made sure they were heard.

While Attorney General Holder was in mid-speech, a group called Shut Down Atlanta interrupted the night to let the crowd know how they felt.

Of course they were escorted out after that moment, but if anyone involved or in charge of any organization aimed at helping the community, they would be smart to tap into that energy and anger. At the end of the day, it’s the people who need to be nurtured and respected. It is them who will be leading the next wave of activism.

2. Cool under fire

I was never the biggest fan of Eric Holder. I though he might be too mild-mannered to hold such a position. He’s done an admirable job since he’s been in office. He’s had to deal with calls from congress and the community for his resignation several times, yet he stood strong in the paint.

With this being his last hurrah, it was fair to say that he was probably cooler under pressure tonight tha he has been previously. Tonight was the first stop on his cross-country tour where he will be discussing some of the same topics. This was the perfect spot to try first.

Aside from interruptions from the crowd, he also weathered waves of boo’s and jeers from those who didn’t want to hear anything he had to say. He took it all with a smile. He even cracked a joke with the crowd after the interruption from Shut Down Atlanta.

This might be his last stand as A.G., but he’s going to make it a memorable one.

3. Mixed views make the best soup 

There were many groups present last night at Ebenezer Baptist. From the NAACP to the Communist party, many varying points of view came out to voice anger and offer solutions.

While some groups had very opposite views from the others, one thing was clear, we were fighting the same enemy. So whether you believed in total destruction on the government or peaceful protest, the opposition was the same. End the militarization of the police, diversify the police force, and give an equal voice to the new majority.

4. Black on Black Crime, What we don’t like.

Want to piss off Black people, mention Black on Black crime. Many (myself included) understand the need to have conversations about gun control and gun violence in the Black community. What we’re tired of hearing is the term “black on black crime.” One, it’s a silly statement, especially when any other crime is just considered crime. I mean, growing up in Boston, I’ve witnessed plenty of Irish on Irish crime and Italian on Italian crime. It’s not called that though.

To constantly hear that term whenever a Black person is killed by another is insane and terribly divisive no matter how you meant it. U.S. Attorney Sally Yates found that out early when here mere mentioned of it erupted in sea of boo’s. Crime is crime and when we begin to look at from that perspective, you can begin to make some headway.

5. Kasim Reid for Governor

Not sure if he’s honestly thought about it or not yet, but Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reid should be planning his run for Governor if he’s not already.

Reid has done a good job of bringing new jobs to the city. And watching him last night, I just got the feeling that we’re were seeing the last of Mayor Reid. Especially when he announced that the city of Atlanta would be the first city to have body cameras placed on police officers. A bold stance from someone who appears to be looking past the city of Atlanta.


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