Over the past few months, I’ve joined fellow IMAN organizers engaging with West Atlanta community members about the upcoming elections and encouraging them to vote. Through this, I learned about specific issues affecting the community and situated them in our nation’s sociopolitical context. These have been pivotal moments for me as a community organizer and graduate student of Public Health.
While canvassing, I encountered West Atlanta families who have lived in the community for over 40 years, and youth who are enrolled in local colleges and universities. By connecting with these neighbors, I discovered that each of them plays a role in the community, making West Atlanta truly unique.
On the college campuses, students shared with me their concerns about gun violence and public safety. Just last year, Georgia enacted a ‘campus carry’ law allowing students to bring secure and legal firearms onto campus for protection as a in response to recent campus shootings. Many students in Atlanta protested this legislation, wondering how more guns would make them any safer.
Meanwhile, the elders shared concerns about displacement and gentrification in a community that is changing in many ways, especially commercially. Long-standing residents find themselves stuck in the middle of a sharp decline in affordable housing, and a clear increase in community redevelopment.
I discovered a common thread linking the generations. The work of serving and uplifting the community must continue; the torch of leadership will be passed. But, how can we nurture that intergenerational collaboration if residents no longer feel secure in their homes and neighborhoods?
The experiences of the past months have infused my GOTV efforts with a deeper meaning. I became more determined than ever to ensure that residents were registered to vote, despite the reports of mysterious voter purges in Georgia. The #FightFearBuildPower movement continues, and IMAN Atlanta is fully aligned with the West End and citywide communities around issues directly affecting us.