by Darryl J. Terry, II, Candidate for Georgia House of Representatives District 56
It's no secret that this is my second attempt at seeking to represent the 56th District in the Georgia House of Representatives. For more than 8 years, I have poured numerous hours into ensuring that folks in my community have access to their basic life necessities. From helping folks understand the voting process to explaining which government jobs are responsible for what tasks, I have continually enjoyed helping folks access knowledge I myself have sought and have been determined to be an asset to everyone’s basic needs. The reason that I seek political office is that for too long, we have accepted the status quo. The fight that I once saw in folks from my community had faded. But in such a confusing era as we find ourselves, we each have seen our community band together to make an incremental change which has sparked the ignition of movements and social change.
In the midst of a global pandemic, the overwhelming call for justice for the murderous practices of police departments in the United States has, no doubt, infiltrated many communities and continues to seek the reformation of public safety policy. I stand with members of the black community, Black Lives Matter, members of the minority academic community, historically black greek communities, black LGBTQUIA+, and allies, in saying the Black Lives are under attack by members of public safety in the United States. I want to be clear in saying that this is not a new issue, but an ongoing infectious wound that America has carried throughout her history.
"Voting is important, but our fundamental issues are rooted much deeper."
I’m grateful for a number of things in this life — but one thing that I will be eternally grateful for is the ability to see different parts of our great state of Georgia. This campaign has taken me from the streets of the Westside to the Golden Isles of Georgia. I’ve experienced Pike County, Georgia and Macon, Georgia, Savannah, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’ve seen the docks where slaves were stolen from their homes and brought from Angola and Sierra Leone to the shores of the new colony of Georgia. I’ve seen the single hospital within a hundred miles in rural Georgia and the difficulties they face with COVID overflows. I’ve talked with students at Clark Atlanta and Georgia Tech who live in rural towns and have difficulty with broadband issues - sometimes having to drive to restaurants to complete assignments. I’ve joined young black entrepreneurs in fighting for their right to operate without harming others on city corners. And I’ve had numerous conversations with young black boys who I mentor and coach about their lives and decision making.
As a black man, I’m numb. As an educator who only teaches black boys who I’m raising to be black men, my heart hurts. As a coach, I’m paralyzed. As a person of color, I’m desensitized. As an aspiring leader, I’m enraged. The numerous protests I’ve attended, the miles I’ve put on my car traveling the state are all because I know that there is so much work that has to be done. I’m sure my great uncle in heaven who fought on the frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement and Politics in Atlanta assumed that his nephew wouldn’t be fighting the same fight 40 years later. But here we are. Enthusiastically putting our blood, sweat, and tears into some sense of justice for Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, and so many others who’ve lost their lives to people filled with hate in their heart. I didn’t think that I would be fighting this fight in 2020. As a kid, I read about how black folks had fought for equality and I was one who believed that the breakthrough of a black Commander in Chief created some resemblance of a step forward. But like a raging infection, racism has reared its ugly head and we’re once again, tired of it. To think that a black man would be tortured and slowly murdered for eight minutes during a global pandemic is unthinkable and unconscionable.
"We’re tired of Dying."
We’ve all heard the saying. “Riots are the language of the unheard.” Yes, Atlanta’s native son Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did speak these words. However, he understood that once peaceful protests were silenced, the initial reaction of the public may be destruction. And that’s okay. You will never be able to walk in another person’s shoes. So to say their struggle is invalid and the hurt they feel is not real is a destructive slap in the face. We have to work together, as a collective, each understanding that we all have life experiences that will allow us to govern policies for everyday people. As an American Government Teacher, I am here to tell you that the government was founded by those who were well connected and the few at the top. Its fundamentals were rooted in policies crafted by slave owners and property/business owners who were upset with their current governing structure. So when people are upset about their government structure, my instinct is to listen. My instinct is to run because I am not one of the few and well connected. I’m an everyday teacher seeking to give a voice to our community.
Georgia has so many issues that require review and revision — and in some cases, complete repeal. While District 56 only encompasses the city of Atlanta, I believe all municipalities in Georgia should review their public safety spending habits and training policies of officers. This is not a final action but the catalyst to creating generational change. We have a stand your grown law that needs to be repealed. We have hate crimes legislation that needs to be passed and signed by the Governor to protect our most vulnerable Georgians. We have over one million Georgians who could be covered by Medicaid expansion - that needs to happen quickly. We have housing and development practices that need to be reviewed. We will have an enormous inevitable cut in education funding that needs to be combatted at every turn to save our kids’ future. We have CROWN legislation that needs to be passed to protect our black women. We have legislation protecting victims of sexual assault on college campuses that needs to be strengthened as well as campus carry legislation that needs to be repealed. There are so many issues that need review.
"We don’t have time to fight each other."
Both of my opponents have engaged in infighting about education and their stances. As a public school educator, I have always been clear on my stance on increasing funding for educational opportunities in our state. So outspoken in fact, it is the first policy of my 15 point plan. Now is not the time for fighting each other, but rather, we need to be focused on helping people in our community who are hurting. And that's what I have been focused on for the past two months. From helping a single mother securing housing even though she lost her job due to COVID — to explaining how to receive the government stimulus check, I have purposely tried to help my community thrive. I've been a voice where one has been missing. Our campaign donated masks to our seniors and we continue to feed our homeless. Not because we want to win an election but because it’s the right damn thing to do. In the midst of this election season, we cannot lose focus on what’s important. Black people continue to die at the hands of law enforcement, there are policies in Georgia that are preventing Georgians from accessing the basic necessities of life, and we have so much work to do.
So as we approach this final push to election day, I ask anyone reading this note to challenge yourself to become not only politically involved but thoroughly immersed in the idea of helping others. As a devout Baptist Christian, my entire purpose in life is to serve others. I am asking my volunteers, friends, neighbors, or anyone — even if we do not agree on every issue, to help change the world for the better. Each day I wake up, I think about what I’m going to tell my future grandchildren I did when our democracy and the lives of black people were under attack by an orange man and the men in blue. I fight to represent my community because I believe that everyone deserves a fair shake. I fight for my community because my shoes are your shoes. I have been very clear since day one about where I stood on the issues and very accessible to any person who had questions about my policies. This will never change. I am committed to helping others and a title or job doesn’t hinder, only help, in that regard.
"I love my team."
I wouldn’t be half the man I am without the people who make this campaign possible. In a normal world, we would have had numerous campaign parties at the office by this point, but our zoom calls will have to do. Win, lose or draw, I have a workhorse of a team who have helped me in so many ways that I can’t even name. As we go into our final push for votes, I want you to know your tireless work is seen and acknowledged. My family, along with myself, will be eternally grateful. I am further appreciative of any person who has financially contributed to our campaign for progressive change as well, you are seen. To the folks who picked up the phone just to see if the number I posted would work, I will cherish your surprise in knowing that I am very responsive. And everyone who believes in Darryl J. Terry, II for Georgia, I thank you for your tireless efforts. These next few days may be the hardest since our qualifying day, but I know that we are prepared for anything that comes. Like Nipsey said, "The Marathon Continues."
In Yours in Progress and Service,