This past Tuesday thriving and forward looking Gwinnett County turned back. One knew the expansion of rapid transit into Gwinnett was in trouble with the resurrection of the mnemonic for MARTA stirring memories of the vicious debates in Cobb at the very beginning. They are still memorialized in Cobb policies prohibiting expansion.. The coup de grace’ in Gwinnett was delivered with the defeat of the March 19 referendum.
Those who lived and those who died for Civil Rights Public Accommodation laws knew what experience proves, that we will never form one multiracial community of until we live together. In Georgia’s largest metro region Atlanta that has not happened.
Kevin Kraus’ recent book White Flight meticulously documents how the white, mostly male business and political leaders set about the nullification. of established law by manipulation of neighborhood property values, discrimination against African America business and flight of the children of white parents into private, often religious and tax subsidized, schools. The rejection of cheap public transportation has made well enough off white citizens feel safe in their enclaves carved out of Fulton and metro countie to which they flee taking their property tax base with them.
The consequences, intended and unintended, are some obvious, others still evolving. One wonders for example just how many tons of carbon has been poured into the atmosphere by I-75 and I-85 commuting SUVs? Impact on education is more subtle. The public school system that created the shared experience, language and history that united into “American” the waves and waves of 19th century immigration is undone. Too many white children have and are learning politicized revised history and creation science. On the other had, the arc of justice that gave hope to MLK seems to be operating in the vigorous intellectual and political African American community taking advantage of opportunity given by law.
But the old way still holds, still stubbornly nullifying. It will be a better place to live when it is finally given up. — W. Lorraine Watkins March 26, 2019