I'm from the city "Too Busy to Hate."
by Darryl J. Terry, II, Candidate for Georgia House of Representatives District 56
404 Day celebrates the pride and tenacity of a city once burned to the ground during the Civil War. A play on Atlanta’s primary area code, April 4th has been celebrated by natives for years. We celebrate our heritage and those who forged the path forward, not only their children but for generations to follow. You see, Atlanta is not your normal city. Our city has been crowned “Too busy to Hate.” From Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Congressman John Lewis; from OutKast and Goodie Mob to 21 Savage and Lil Baby; from Busy Bee, K&K, and Bankhead Seafood to Mary Mac’s and the Sundial; from Adamsville Rec and Ben Hill Rec to Centennial Olympic Park and Piedmont Park. Our city thrives on hard work and setting the standard for all cities to model.
Atlanta has always been home for me. I’ve known nowhere else. I was born on Peachtree Road and grew up on Simpson Rd (now Joseph E Boone). Where I’m from it’s still called Bankhead Hwy and Hunter Street. When someone refers to Ashby or Wheat Street, you know where they’re talking about. Like the folks from the neighborhood say, “you flew here, I grew here.” Hightower Road became HE Holmes. Gordon Street became Ralph David Abernathy. Techwood Homes became Centennial Place. Perry Homes became West Highlands. East Lake Meadows became The Villages at East Lake. University Homes, Bowen Homes, Bankhead Courts, Hollywood Courts, and Herndon Homes were all torn down and now just sit empty.
When I introduce myself, I don’t just say I’m from Atlanta - everyone knows I’m from the Westside of Atlanta. While it may seem small to some, it means a lot to me. Where I’m from, your neighbors are your friend. For example, Mrs. Bolton is a longtime resident of Dixie Hills, the neighborhood adjacent to mine. She would call me each week while I was in college to make sure I had a home-cooked meal. She understood what it would take for someone who came from where I’m from to not lose focus even though I was just up the road. I’ll never forget what she told me the day after I graduated from Frederick Douglass High School. She said “Just because you graduated valedictorian and you have all these awards don’t mean nothing to nobody. It's about what you’re going to do to help others and give back to those who helped you.” And while I’m just one story, there are thousands of others just like mine.
Unfortunately, an influx of growth has changed the dynamic. While Atlanta has grown around the Westside, developers are now pouncing on the ability to redevelop the Westside. Don’t get me wrong, the Westside has its share of improvements. However, it is our collective responsibility as citizens to ensure that we are not pushed out. I saw an article the other day that read “From Bando to Beltline Bungalow.” This just goes to show where we’re headed if we don’t get ahead of the changes already being made. We all have a right to live, work and play in our communities without having to focus on increased rent and property taxes forcing them out. And right now, we’re in for the fight of our lives.
There’s a lot of history in Atlanta. Much more than I could ever have time to write about here. But I love Atlanta, it’s my home. We’ll always be a city on the rise. Our city’s emblem resembles just that, a Phoenix on the rise. We always find a way to rise from the ashes and show our resilience. Our welcoming communities and unmatched culture give us so many reasons to celebrate.
So on this 404 Day, take time to celebrate all the great things Atlanta has to offer. And to all of the folks throughout our city working during this pandemic, know and believe that we love and appreciate everything that you’re doing. From the TSA agents, firefighters and officers in uniform to the sanitation workers, post office workers and folks at the Atlanta watershed, we appreciate everything you do to keep our city running.