We're less than 7 weeks away from the Georgia midterm elections
Welcome to my freemium newsletter by me, King Williams. A documentary filmmaker, journalist, podcast host, and author based in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a newsletter covering the hidden connections of Atlanta to everything else. For my dad, stay strong! I love you!
Rest in power to two of my aunts
Before this week’s update, I want to say rest in heaven to two of my aunts who’ve recently passed, my aunt Levon and my aunt Edwina. My aunt Edwina is my dad’s twin sister, she was always instrumental in my life and it was her home that I lived in when I first moved to New York over a decade ago to pursue an opportunity to work for Spike Lee. My aunt Levon always made me feel at home.
Atlanta: Past, Present, and Future—thank you!
Thank you to everyone who came out to the Atlanta: Past, Present, and Future event with Archive Atlanta podcast host Victoria Lemos and myself last month. Special shoutout to Ann Hill Bond who managed the event, Liz Clappin of the Tomb With A View Podcast, Cynthia, and the staff at Wild Heaven Brewery! We will be hosting another one in the future and I hope to see all of you at the next one!
I’m leading a tour of the 1906 Atlanta massacre this Sunday
This Sunday, I’m leading a tour of sites related to the 1906 Atlanta Race Massacre., if you would like to attend, please sign up here. It’s free! Tickets are first come, first served. For those attending, we will meet in the parking lot of the MLK Center on John Wesley Dobbs.
The tour is in partnership with the Fulton County Remembrance Coalition and the Center for Civil and Human Rights as part of the center’s Truth and Transformation initiative. The tour is a part of the larger, ongoing effort to remember the massacre on the eve of its 116th anniversary this week.
The 1906 Atlanta massacre also has seen a resolution to recognize the massacre in Congress presented by US Congresswoman Nikema Williams. Special shoutout to Ann Hill Bond for leading the effort to get federal recognition!
Top Story: Stacey Abrams ‘fetal heartbeat’ comments
While Kemp is backing abortion, an anti-Abrams video on abortion is circulating online. The clip in question comes from a panel Abrams was recently on. Abrams in the video states that reported sounds of ‘fetal heartbeats’ are a manufactured sound, she’s correct. But that has not stopped Abrams from being a Twitter trending topic.
TL/DR what is a ‘fetal heartbeat’
There is no such thing as a ‘fetal heartbeat’, because, at 4-6 weeks, there is no heart, there is only an embryo and embryos do not have hearts. An embryo does not become a fetus until around 10 weeks, and the four chambers of the heart do not develop until 17-20 weeks. The ‘heartbeat’ sound being heard is the collection of cells and electrical pulses that will eventually create a heart. Most often it’s the sound of the ultrasound machine itself. While medical experts agree the naming effort is deliberately misleading. While actual fetal heartbeats and the need to monitor a heartbeat happen much later in the pregnancy cycle.
Fetal heartbeat laws are the recent efforts at forced births in the US since North Dakota passed the first law in 2013. Since that time, several other states with Republican leadership have passed similar laws. They have grown in popularity with lawmakers looking to ensure support in these subsequent post-Trump culture wars. Which has been further aided by the Supreme Court’s decision this summer undoing abortion laws.
2. Kemp appears at a major Christian conservative conference in Cobb, skirts around abortion law
Governor Kemp recently appeared at a Christian conservative conference, The Pray Vote Stand Summit at First Baptist Church Atlanta in Dunwoody sponsored by the Family Research Council. FRC has been identified by the Southern Policy Law Center as a hate group for the organization’s emphasis on anti-LGBTQ issues. The group was founded in 1981, founded initially as a division of Focus on the Family, a controversial evangelical Christian non-profit. FRC and Focus on the family have for decades made campaigns against abortion, LGBT issues, as well as Christian-led adoption programs.
The FRC appearance means a lot to both parties
The conference appearance was part of a move towards courting the ardent base of Republican supporters while also following a national trend of slowly attempting to publicly backtrack on recent abortion bills. This appearance is also likely to pay dividends in the immediate and long-term future should Kemp win re-election. The FRC has courted conservative lawmakers into changing the organization’s IRS status to ‘church’. The designation makes the organization also shielded from disclosing its donations, and provides fewer disclosures on its spending habits.
The conference can be seen in the video above, Kemp at the 18:55 mark, and ends at 31:30.
Kemp’s abortion crusade echoes
For Kemp, the abortion move to sign ‘the fetal heartbeat bill’ is playing strong with conservative Christians, and anti-abortion activists, but not overall. Kemp is following playbook decades in the making, in the process galvanizing the most ardent Republican voters, white Evangelical voters, including a large overlap of other religious voters. Kemp is running a new culture war more akin to 2004 George W. Bush’s faith-based push to secure victory in a follow-up election against John Kerry.
SIDE B: Governors like Kemp could be the final piece in a long puzzle
The reason for the pivot into this in the first place was a crackdown on religious organizations due to issues of civil rights violations of Christian schools in the 1970s. The rise of private ‘Christian’ schools put many of these organizations and schools (especially colleges) at odds with then US president Jimmy Carter as well as the IRS. The resulting crackdown on the schools and organizations put the GOP as the defaulting party of conservatives in the US ever since.
I would recommend a few more supplementary pieces on the history of the religious right’s impact on private schools and ‘Christian Schools’ as a backlash to integration.
Past Present podcast: Religious Schooling and Church-State Separation
Crash Course - Black American History (YouTube): School Segregation and Brown v Board
Since the end of Brown v. Board of Education, as well as the Roe v. Wade rulings, conservative organizations for decades, have made overturned both their goals, Roe is already gone, and Brown could be next. The current anti-CRT and anti-woke culture wars are a step in the direction, something Governor Kemp has also leaned into.
Kemp’s already stacked the deck for the religious right
For Kemp, who’s already stacked the deck around education as the recent passage of laws aimed at banning ‘critical race theory’ in schools as well as ‘the parental bill of rights’ is aimed at reinforcing a limited view of conservative education. While on the university level, his selection of the unqualified former US Secretary of Agriculture and former governor Sonny Perdue over the University System of Georgia, will likely lead to a future where conservative education is all education.
Kemp is slowly backtracking from abortion
The notable point of Kemp’s speech was that he only mentioned the law once. Kemp’s brief statements as well as a pivot away from anti-abortion ads are showing a miscalculation in his campaign. While Kemp enjoys a comfortable lead against challenger Stacey Abrams, that lead is growing eight weeks ahead of the election.
Red Clay News
The Grady Health System is getting $130 million in pandemic funds to prepare for the closure of Atlanta Medical Center.
The City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management has kicked off its Small Business Development Program, those who want to apply can click here.
Frontier Airlines will be launching international flights out of Atlanta.
The Krog Street tunnel will be closed nightly until December for drain repair.
Atlanta City Council recently approved funds to allow for the purchase of land to build future affordable developments.
Kwanza Hall has been named head of the Chattahoochee River trail group.
Athens vegetarian and vegan staple The Grit is to close next month.
More Red Clay News
Marc Wilson has been given 10 years in prison for defending himself in a stand your ground case
Marc Wilson, the man who was fleeing from a 2020 racist attack with his girlfriend in the car, and fired a shot into the car of his pursuers, killing a 17-year-old has been acquitted of all charges except for involuntary manslaughter. Wilson today has been given 10 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter after a judge’s questionable decisions handling the case have led his family to believe his sentence has been racially motivated.
The Wilson case proves ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws are only for white people
Wilson stated that he was being chased on the highway by a group of young white teens who were harassing him on the highway. Wilson fired a warning shot and killed a 17-year-old. Since then, the issue has been a contentious case on the merits of stand-your-ground laws in Georgia.
Stand Your Ground Laws
Stand Your Ground laws are part of a long history of American individualism, frontiers’ mythmaking, the National Rifle Association, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), and decades of anti-gun rights laws activism. The first official Stand Your Ground law was enacted in Florida in 2005, and Georgia in 2006. The law has gained strength from the 2008 Supreme Court’s 5(R)-4(D) decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, the ruling allowed for guns to be permitted to individuals in cities.
These all converge in the idea of Castle Doctrine, an older ideology that traces its roots back to the Roman Empire, but codified in English common law's emergence in the 1600s. The idea is a holdover in the US from its colonial days but has evolved over time. Castle Doctrine is the idea that a man’s home is his castle, and must be defended at all costs, with the legal recourse to protect him from any penalty from the law.
The judge in the case is at fault for this verdict, he should be investigated as well.
While Wilson was found not guilty by a jury on all of the charges but involuntary manslaughter. The judge, Ronald K. “Ronnie” Thompson is an appointee of Governor Brian Kemp. Judge Thompson in the case deliberately chose to not instruct the jury on Wilson having a misdemeanor option for involuntary manslaughter. The misdemeanor option would’ve seen Wilson not do anytime in prison versus the now 10 years Wilson was given. While it was also reasonable to believe that had the judge included the involuntary manslaughter charge, Wilson would’ve been found not guilty as well. Judge Thompson says his 10-year sentence for Wilson was ‘colorblind’.
Wilson may run into a problem getting his freedom
Wilson receiving the highest sentence possible is likely going to lead to an appeal as well as an inquiry into the judge’s sentencing. The first judge in the case was recused for being too discriminatory. And now because of a recent Supreme Court ruling, Shinn v. Ramirez that states courts do not have to hear new evidence or take up cases where information that could provide innocence or a new trial be had.
From Reuters - Supreme Court prioritizes expedience, not justice, in wrongful convictions (5/23/2022):
The court’s opinion effectively guts a final safeguard against prosecutorial and judicial error or misconduct. It will leave people who have been wrongfully convicted without a court to turn to for justice, and increases the likelihood that some innocent prisoners will be executed.
There is a possibility that Wilson, despite the evidence, a jury ruling in his favor, and bias in the judge’s decision-making, may have to serve out his full sentence. Additionally, current Attorney General Chris Carr is unlikely to take up a case that has this direct racial overtone, which would likely require investigating a fellow Republican (a judge no less), anger white gun supporters as well as anger the base of conservative voters in an election year. Carr is running against Democrat Jen Jordan.
Ludacris manager Chaka Zulu’s shooting video released
Chaka Zulu (real name Ahmed Obafemi) best known as the long-time manager and business partner of Atlanta rapper Ludacris, has been charged with murder after shooting a man after a fight occurred at a Buckhead restaurant in June.
Security video was released today showing the entire altercation. Obafemi can be seen being jumped by a group of men before he pulls out a weapon and strikes one man, killing him. Obafemi is claiming self-defense in the matter and now will likely have more leverage regarding his case.
US Supreme Court rejects Georgia PSC election claims
The US Supreme Court has rejected claims of racism related to the Georgia Public Service Commissioner’s redistricting. The high court reverted to the original decision by a federal judge in Atlanta that postponed the elections after finding that electing the five commissioners statewide illegally diluted Black votes. As a result, two of the PSC races that were added to the November elections, have now been taken off the ballot. This gives the GOP once again full control of the Public Service Commission.
An entire Alabama police department has disbanded after being found out to have several instances of overt racism within the department.
The NBA will be dropping its mandatory 19-year-old requirement to 18 years old for joining the league, opening the door again for players straight out of high school to join.
Marijuana and hallucinogenic drugs reached an all-time high in 2021.
US mortgage rates hit 6%, for the first time since 2008.
California has passed a new bill aimed at social media transparency.
West Virginia has passed a near-total abortion ban.
22 Republican governors have called on President Biden to withdraw his student loan forgiveness plan.
Britain’s new Prime Minister signals a motion to end the ban on fracking.
Puerto Rico is currently experiencing massive flooding and a downed national electric grid after the passage of Hurricane Fiona.
China is reporting that its tourism level is at 60% of its pre-Covid levels.
New Zealand, one of the world’s leaders in low covid deaths, has dropped all rules related to the disease with the exception of hospitals and elderly care.
There’s a lot of general sadness in the world, please find joy in the smallest of things.