|The Key to the White North Fulton battle with Black South Fulton: Buckhead|
A coalition of civil rights and attorney groups says African-American judges are being replaced by white appointees in one of Georgia's most heavily populated black counties and called Thursday for Georgia's governor to fill vacancies with judges who reflect their communities' diversity.
The coalition, led by the Rev. Joseph Lowery, said black representation on the bench has decreased from 44 percent in 2002 to 30 percent. They say every African-American judge who has resigned or retired from Fulton County Superior Court replaced by gubernatorial appointment since 2002 has been replaced by a white appointee.
Fulton County is 44 percent African-American, according to the latest Census figures.
"We need fairness," said Lowery, head of the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, as he stood on the steps of the courthouse. "Do the right thing. We're not here to ask them for favors. We're asking them for justice."
AIR travelers to Atlanta witness a spectacle that bolsters the city's image as the jewel of the New South and a showcase of Black achievement. Airplanes fly over fields of emerald pines that encircle a bustling metropolis run by Black politicians. They glide over some of the $300,000 homes of the Black elite, and land on runways built by Black firms before depositing passengers at a high-tech airport that some call America's greatest monument to affirmative action.
A quarter-century after the signing of the Civil Rights Act, the city that was the setting for Margaret Mitchell's famed Civil War novel, Gone With The Wind, is a city that the book's heroine, Scarlett O'Hara, would not recognize. Gone with the winds of change are the Jim Crow-era "Whites Only" signs, segregated lunch counters, and laws that prevented Blacks from voting.
Today, Atlanta is the benchmark of Black political and economic success--a mecca for Blacks seeking and often finding fulfillment of the American dream. Blacks and Whites exercise and network at the Downtown Athletic Club. Everything from T-shirts to coffee mugs bearing the logo of Underground Atlanta, the city's new downtown $142 million retail and entertainment attraction, are produced by a Black-owned firm, the Logo Depot. The city of nearly a half-million people is run by its second Black mayor. In fact, African-Americans, who comprise almost 70 percent of the city's residents, hold the majority of city council and county commission seats.
First of all, start with exaggerated black expectations, that overnight Valhalla will be found, heaven will come on earth and it's all because the black mayor's been elected. And things just don't work that way. The obligation that I felt was to try with everything in my power and every legal and ethical way that I could to move things as quickly as possible in that direction.
But now, that is ending. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported this on May 17; House GOP leader: ‘My goal is to end Fulton County’:
When the Legislature passed new maps for the state House and Senate last year, Republicans gave themselves extra slices of certain counties.
Earlier this month, House Speaker pro tem Jan Jones of Milton bluntly explained the merits of the tactic to a group of north Fulton voters. From Neighbor Newspapers:
In January, according to Jones, there will be a north Fulton majority in both the House delegation and the Senate delegation.
Which means, “we can cut Fulton County down to size until we get Milton County,” she said.
“My goal is that we reduce the thumbprint … of Fulton County on your lives and your pocketbooks such that in a very few years, Atlanta and south Fulton will not fight us on recreating Milton County because Fulton County will be insignificant,” she said. “We will begin that process next year.”
Jones said she actually thinks splitting Fulton into three counties would be in the best interest of all citizens.
“My goal is not to re-create Milton County. My goal is to end Fulton County and bring government closer to the people,” she said. “But it will take convincing.”
Jones’ comments, reported last week, are only now circulating within the city of Atlanta. They explain the motives behind HB 1052, which would have given the power to appoint two of three Fulton County representatives on the MARTA board to municipalities in north Fulton, said state Rep. Rashad Taylor, D-Atlanta.
Vice Chair Emma Darnell said the bill would disenfranchise the Southside. She also brought up the forming of new north Fulton cities, which she called "segregation based upon race and income."
Since 2005, three communities north of Atlanta voted to incorporate, a backlash against a perception of lackluster services and poor representation by the county government. One effect has been a higher tax rate on unincorporated south Fulton, the only area still under direct county governance.
"In my district, from Bankhead to Buckhead, we have no intention of going back [to segregation]," Darnell said. "There's too much blood back there."