Franklin: ‘Black mayor first’ memo is ‘bigoted’

Shirley Franklin called Friday afternoon with a stark description of the memo you’ve heard about — the one that frets over the possibility that Atlanta might choose a white mayor to succeed her in November.

“I think it was bigoted,” Franklin said. It was not a slip of the tongue. The mayor used multiple variations of the word.

But what seemed to offend Franklin just as much was what she called the “lopsided history of Atlanta and Atlanta politics” contained in the document.

The mayor said more, but we need to back up a bit.

The lengthy analysis that careened through e-mail accounts last week was distributed by Aaron Turpeau, a long-time City Hall veteran whose political career was capped by service as chief of staff to Maynard Jackson.

In an interview, Turpeau said the analysis was written by two academics associated with Clark Atlanta University on behalf of an “ad hoc” group called the Black Leadership Forum.

The memo was an attempt to form an agenda for Atlanta’s black community, Turpeau said. “Everybody has an agenda,” he said. “The developers have an agenda, downtown business has an agenda, the gays have an agenda, the Hispanics have an agenda.”

What would be the substance of a black agenda? Economic equality, access to City Hall, and respect for those displaced by development, Turpeau said.

If the analysis had actually said those things and stopped, much underwear in Atlanta would have remained untwisted. But the memo used the phrase “black mayor at all cost” and spoke of a “black mayor first” approach.

According to the BLF memo, the election of tiny Mary Norwood, the white councilwoman, “would be just as significant in political terms as Maynard Jackson’s victory in 1973.”

The political aims of the analysis are none too subtle. The memo assumes that black voters won’t turn out in any runoff, and so — in order to knock out Norwood in the Nov. 3 general election — suggests an effort to rally African-Americans behind City Council President Lisa Borders.

Borders quickly disassociated herself from the memo and its strategy.
According to the get-behind-Borders approach, other black mayoral candidates, including state Sen. Kasim Reed, would simply be out of luck. The memo pointed to a recent InsiderAdvantage poll that showed Reed lagging well behind both Norwood and Borders.

That logic prompted the Reed campaign, over the weekend, to release fresh internal polling that concedes the top spot to Norwood, at 33 percent. (The Brilliant Corners Research poll surveyed 580 voters; margin of error was put at 4 percentage points.)

Norwood aside, Reed says his survey puts him in a statistical tie with Borders, 19 to 16 percent, and shows the two African-American candidates with near-equal shares of the black vote.

But there is more to this “black mayor first” memo than nervousness over a few polls, or worry over Atlanta’s shifting demographics.

Reed, the candidate placed most in peril by the memo, twice acted as campaign manager for Franklin. The two are close, but the current mayor has made no formal endorsement. Even so, the authors of the memo go out of their way to cast doubt on Franklin’s ability to put her imprint on the race.

“To ignore the alienation that exists among black voters towards the Franklin administration’s performance is naive at best and dishonest at worse,” the analysis says.

This brings us back to that Friday phone call from the mayor. Franklin wouldn’t talk about an endorsement in the ‘09 race. Nor would she discuss the portions of the memo directed at her.

What Franklin wanted to talk about was the effort by a group of African-Americans — size and membership remains ill-defined — to define Atlanta’s first black mayor, who has been dead these six years.

“The memo clearly characterizes the historic election of Maynard Jackson as if it was an election of blacks over whites,” Franklin said. Yes, the mayor said, Jackson understood the importance of his achievement.

But to treat him as a “black Messiah,” Franklin emphasized, is to ignore Jackson’s belief “that every segment of this community ought to participate in the development of public policy.” Jackson was about inclusion, not exclusion, she said.

“To reduce Maynard’s legacy to a political machine is to not know Maynard Jackson. That’s trite,” she said. And “crazy, bigoted literature” that rises up from such a flawed assumption will be flawed throughout, the mayor noted.

As for the Black Leadership Forum’s concern over the outcome of a runoff for mayor of Atlanta, and the fear of multiple African-American candidates in this year’s mayoral race: Runoffs have been more the rule than the exception in Atlanta politics, Franklin said.

That’s the path that Jackson and Andrew Young followed to City Hall. Bill Campbell, too, was forced into a runoff to secure a second term, by Council President Marvin Arrington, an African-American.

History is one of the world’s most powerful forces. And at the very bottom of so many political contests is the matter of who will control the biographies of those who have gone before us.

It has come to that in the Atlanta mayoral race: What Would Maynard Do?

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435 comments Add your comment

DW

August 30th, 2009
2:07 pm

I don’t know about Maynard, but DW wants to know who the “Black Leadership Forum” is. When was it started? Who are the major players? What’s its TRUE purpose and agenda? Yes, I ask this as a black man who’s very concerned about the future of Atlanta.

BorderWar

August 30th, 2009
2:11 pm

Norwood 33%
Borders 19%
Reed 16%

That seems more accurate than the Towery poll. Almost 50% more people were polled. This is going to be an interesting race.

Suffix

August 30th, 2009
2:14 pm

I’m with DW. I need more answers too. What’s the nature of Turpeau and Borders’ relationship?

AlG

August 30th, 2009
2:25 pm

Economic equality as an agenda item? That doesn’t work unless taxes are used as a weapon to drive prosperity out of the city.

Access to City Hall as an agenda item? If black people haven’t had it for the last 25 years, they’ll surely never see it anywhere in this world.

what???

August 30th, 2009
2:28 pm

“Economic equality, access to City Hall, and respect for those displaced by development, Turpeau said…..I didn’t know that was a problem in Atlanta.

Mark

August 30th, 2009
2:32 pm

Here is a fine example of blacks keeping racism alive. Blacks can’t run anything but their bigoted mouths. They should be barred from public office, as they accomplish nada, ie: Shirley girl, Cynthia McKinney, etc. Let’s turn this city into a “Vanilla city”.

Hmmm

August 30th, 2009
2:35 pm

I want someone who is going to hold city employees accountable. Customer service is not part of the job description at city hall. Boy, that is wishful thinking on my part.

I work in city government in the suburbs but live in Atlanta and most employees would be fired if they responded the way Atlanta employees do. Just my experience. Just answer the phone and know what you are talking about please!!!!!!

Steve-o

August 30th, 2009
2:35 pm

What I’ve witnessed is black candidates fighting for power. Ms Norwood seems genuine in her efforts to improve Atlanta. Stop the business as usual crap that drives not only businesses away but people away from downtown. Why is a memo like this NOT looked at with the outrage that one mentioning the importance of a white mayor for Atlanta would be? I think we know that answer. Shameful and disgusting. Again…business as usual. This business left years ago.

Mark

August 30th, 2009
2:36 pm

I’m sorry about my previous post, I’m ignorant and a closeted racist myself. How can I defend my viewpoint when my entire post was racist. In the future I’ll use more thought and intellect when expressing my opinion.

Nookly

August 30th, 2009
2:37 pm

Black people are the most racist people in the country. They scream racism for anything, but they are the ones who are racist.

Mark

August 30th, 2009
2:39 pm

Nookly speaks the truth.

Vernon Jones

August 30th, 2009
2:44 pm

I want to see a darker Atlanta. After 400 years of oppression, it’s our turn to oppress white folks.

Sally

August 30th, 2009
2:47 pm

Thank goodness Shirley called it what it was. All the other Atlanta black leaders I’ve heard talk about it just tried to downplay it. If someone said we needed a “white agenda” there would be holy he!! for years to come.

Conspiracist

August 30th, 2009
2:48 pm

I too am curious to know the make up of this so called Blacl Leadeship Forum. Is it really a Black group or something concocted group designed to cause devisiveness like has already? It is one of those things that makes you go HMMMMMMMMMM……….

Alec

August 30th, 2009
2:49 pm

Mark you are not racist. You are honest. You are correct. You should run for mayor. Got my gay, white, divorced father’s VOTE!!!

Alec

August 30th, 2009
2:51 pm

When are we going to get a Whitemans Group and it not be called the KKK?

j

August 30th, 2009
2:51 pm

Funny….if a ‘white group’ came out with something like this there would be hell to pay…..but let us look at the big picture…..right now….present day…..there is a black mayor…..black police chief…..there are black fire chiefs….a black man runs the airport……so there are pretty much more black people running metro Atlanta than there are whites….I think that is pretty much fair to say…..but for some reason…..who knows….the blacks still cry and complain they are being shut out and not represented…..the AJC is the most black backing paper in the country……all I can say is….there are blacks in control of ATL……so why all the complaining? The black on black crime in ATL is unbeleivable, but let me guess, its the white mans fault…. Are they scared that if a white person does get mayor that things will get worse for them? Cant get much worse folks. If I could sell my house right now, I would leave this broke down city…….and yes…I DO have a for sale sign in my yard!!!

Jason

August 30th, 2009
2:53 pm

@Vernon: Shame on you for holding that UNJUST viewpoint. That’s just as wrong as any injustices perpetrated by whites over the last 400 years.

j

August 30th, 2009
2:54 pm

yeah Vernon…..a blacker ATL….thats like saying I want to see more water in the ocean…..moron…..

j

August 30th, 2009
2:58 pm

yeah Vernon….saying you want a darker ATL is like saying you want to see more water in the ocean…..you moron

Tina

August 30th, 2009
3:03 pm

Turpeau is a seasoned veteran of “community development” and other scams, as in: contracts for me, my political friends, and well-connected ministers and activists, with no accountability and vast wads of tax dollars going down rat holes to ensure the next election, too. For just one example, the set-aside airport contracts that Maynard Jackson and Shirley Franklin’s families weirdly won, of all the millions of people in Atlanta. My goodness, that was such a coincidence! Now people are distancing themselves from the rhetoric that justifies such behavior? That takes nerve and faith in the ability of journalists to forget. Or look away. Economic equality? These people care only enough about the poor to profit from their existence. Access to City Hall? Amazing nerve, that. Continued access to grant dollars, more like. There is a story here: it simply isn’t being told by the AJC. As usual, in Atlanta and elsewhere, there are only three words you need to know about the next election or any election: follow the money.

KiknUSquareNdanuts

August 30th, 2009
3:07 pm

Boy, you white folks are bitter!

Just Me

August 30th, 2009
3:08 pm

As a black man, I disappointed by the BLF letter. I’m a New Jerseyan who happens to love Atlanta. Atlanta has so much to offer but obviously needs better leadership to assume its rightful position among the great cities of America. As some of the other posters have pointed out, if Black people don’t have access to gov’t after so many years of Black leadership in the city, then it’s their own fault. It’s obviously a class problem rather than a race problem and maintaining that having another Black mayor will remedy this situation is a bit ignorant. My own hope is that Atlanta gets the mayor who is best for the city whether he/she is black, white or green. Good luck, Atlanta. I hope you can get back to being the “city too busy to hate.”

KnewU

August 30th, 2009
3:08 pm

The reality of this situation is that the views of a few should not and cannot be attributed to be the views of an entire race of people. If there is one area where equality across races is evident it is in the place were we find that ignorance has no requirement of colored. It is equally shared amongst many from every color, race, creed and nationally which exist in this world. Those who wish to consider this a “black thing” do as has been done here, they keep it alive and well in the media and in the racist comments, of those who point the finger and call others racist, posted in blogs. There will always be a segment of society,regardless of color, which deserves nothing more than to be ignored. Some of that segment even trolls these boards. In the end the memo crafted by Mr. Turpeau and the group he is affiliated with came much to the surprised of the majority of African Americans in this community, though many would like not to believe this the case. The majority first heard of Mr. Turpeau and this organization when the majority of the community did which was when this report hit the news. Most denounce his rhetoric and have grown to a place in life where we realize that our vote counts and we want any person who is office to realize we count and we want them to be accountable. Our votes aren’t for sale, but our desire for equal representation, quality of life, and a government that works for the people differs not from any other race. Mr. Turpeau thanks but no thanks. Bloggers, show not your “colors” but rather your intelligence. Be not what you call others to be unless you would wear the title proudly. May the best candidate for the future of our beloved city win, regardless of sex, race or sexual orientation. Judge each by the content of his/her character not the color of his/her skin.

Karina

August 30th, 2009
3:11 pm

What have black mayors done for average black Atlantans? Absolutely NOTHING.

KnewU

August 30th, 2009
3:14 pm

several typos in my response, for that I apologize…caught up in the emotion surrounding this negativity. I hope you can see beyond my mistakes to understand my points.

chuck allison

August 30th, 2009
3:18 pm

The memo accurately reflects Maynard Jackson’s legacy as Georgians know it.

KnewU

August 30th, 2009
3:19 pm

God bless you Real Mark, may the change you so much need, come.

brick

August 30th, 2009
3:19 pm

Lots of closed minded people post here. Atlanta like many other places has some problems, its aging interstructure, proverty, crime are few of them. But Atlanta politicians are like most of them everywhere else regardless of color, they have little interest in representing the wishes of people who elected them and most have a much greater net worth when they leave office than when they entered. Its pretty easy to see where there main interest lies, and it has nothing to do with the color of one’s skin.

Real Mark

August 30th, 2009
3:22 pm

You know I was sitting in my Trailer last night talking to my sister/wife about gettn my teef fixed when I read about the mayor! White folks like me who don’t have an education, social skills, and are Inbred just have lost this country and I blame black folks! It’s their fault my parents are cousins, It’s their fault I had to marry my sister, it’s their fault I didn’t graduate from high school, it’s their fault I still live in this trailer, and it’s their fault that I hate myself!

The Real Politico

August 30th, 2009
3:22 pm

Why exactly is Ms. Norwood described as “tiny Mary Norwood”? Is this to describe her stature physically, personally or politically?

ifyouonlyknew...

August 30th, 2009
3:23 pm

Relax people. Do you honestly think that a white person will ever be mayor of this city? Think again. This city is only going to continue down the same path that it has been on for years. We are all on this runaway train. Better just try and find a seat with a seatbelt. Good luck to all!!!!!

Madison

August 30th, 2009
3:23 pm

Franklin has no room to call anyone a bigot. Remember the memo she, John Lewis and Andy Young sent out in the John Eaves Lee Morris race.

Chris D'

August 30th, 2009
3:25 pm

I believe this article is about Shirley Franklin’s response to a memo. I tend to agree with her assessment of the discussed memo. I am sure she would like history to look at her as the former mayor of Atlanta and view her accomplishments in that context. Viewing her and other leaders in this city in the context framed predominately in the context of their race would be discrediting to their public service. Lets not fool ourselfs white, black and what other shade in between people of Atlanta. Voters naturally lean toward voting for people like themselves that they feel share their values and perspectives. There will always will be segments of societies that vote in blocks based on their shared characteristics. That is human nature. Good politicians exploit those similarities and try to make everyone feel that they are just like them if necessary.

SR

August 30th, 2009
3:25 pm

I’ll say this…the whole shootin’ match comes right out of a so called “accademic group”. These people are TRASH. They permiate educational campuses because they are actually LOSERS. They can’t make it in the real world of business at all. So the best they can do is group enmass like some kind of VIRUS, and infect the minds of young people who don’t know better by experience to doubt the mess they peddle, and actually are still naive enough to believe that THIS NEW SYSTEM is going to be less corrupt than the LAST ONE. Every last rank and stinkin’ one of them took their positions based on what they bilked off the people by way of government loans and grants. They don’t mind takin’ the white folks money to further their form of hatred.

It’s utterly disgusting that just when civil rights gains come to some sort of fruition they want to go back down the dark road toward bigotry, and oppression. Kenyas callin’.

chris

August 30th, 2009
3:26 pm

who cares who becomes mayor as long as they can get things done, BLACK OR WHITE!

The Real Voice

August 30th, 2009
3:30 pm

The last time I looked the US Constitution says we can call ourselves whatever we like. It’s called freedom of speech. Of course that would assume you even read the Constitution. And whites have been calling themselves Polish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans for decades. Are they considerd “you people” too?

Charlie

August 30th, 2009
3:31 pm

Black intellectual, hhahahahaahahahhahhahahah,,,STOP, YER KILLIN ME hahhahhhhhh

edge

August 30th, 2009
3:31 pm

As far as the stuff goes for political needs, those should not be an issue, as it’s been that way for a long time. What I do see is maybe some offensiveness and downright how to solve the incompetence of Atlanta, especially with Richard Pennington being about the worse guy you could have for Police Chief. What would help if is Philly Shirley admit her mistakes, knock off Pennington and straighten things out, there might be a chance.. But Shirley’s coattails are awfully thin and I’d be looking at other options. That memo is designed to create outrage, what it will do instead is create backlash..

scott

August 30th, 2009
3:32 pm

can someone kindly explain the difference between bigoted and racist? I thought I knew, at one point.

The Real Voice

August 30th, 2009
3:33 pm

Wouldn’t listening to The Real Mark be like listening to a fart in the wind?

Dan Deacon

August 30th, 2009
3:34 pm

Blacks people continue to degrade themselves and make themselves impotent to the world. To suggest that blacks should rally behind a black candidate because they’re black is blatant racism and should be considered a hate crime. Blacks will not be tolerated to behave in this manner. Whites will not allow it. They’ve been given a chance to act like dignified human beings, however certain ones continue their attempt to dominate rather than try to accomplish goals on an equal basis.

These black groups that form should be outlawed and are racially motivated hate groups that only represent and rally around blacks achievements. They are too cowardly to step up to the plate when a white has been discriminated against or wants support.

The continued racially motivated behavior that discriminates and will no longer be tolerated by whites (and hopefully intelligent blacks) demonstrates those that do so as ignorant, impotent trouble makers. They poorly represent their race and worsens race relations. Those that follow these groups or individuals that demonstrate this behavior may have a short lived litte fling but will ultimately fail in the end.

Spec

August 30th, 2009
3:36 pm

Dan, you do realize that there are groups of people in ALL races that should be outlawed and are racially motivated hate groups, your viewpoint lacks respect when it’s one-sided it comes across as, “the pot calling the kettle black”

red

August 30th, 2009
3:39 pm

For most of us who live IN atlanta only want the best person to run and win.

The Real Mark

August 30th, 2009
3:39 pm

Mr. Jackson served as Mayor of Atlanta from 1974 to 1982 and again from 1990 to 1994. His three terms as Mayor of Atlanta were distinguished by the first introduction of international air carriers and a dramatic increase in their number, consulates and foreign trade offices, imports and exports, the neighborhood planning unit system, a comprehensive development plan, major construction, management innovation, the arts, mass transit, vertically integrated housing finance and production, streamlining the bureaucracy, increasing employee incentives and productivity, record-setting new jobs creation, strong bond ratings, and the most successful non-preference, non-quota affirmative action and equal opportunity programs in the nation. Mr. Jackson’s years of Mayoral service were widely respected and documented as times of unparalleled economic development, internationalism, public-private partnerships, racial harmony, and fiscal stability for Atlanta. FORTUNE magazine’s survey of CEO’s named Atlanta as the “Best American City” in which to do business in 1991 and 1993.

Especially noteworthy was Mr. Jackson’s leadership in the construction of Atlanta’s Airport, which was completed ahead of schedule and under budget in September 1980. Succeeding against all odds and a consensus among officials that it could not be built, the Airport was a primary example of his “positive leadership” style. It was the largest airport terminal in the world when built; and today is the world’s busiest, as well as the biggest economic generator in the Southeastern United States. To honor Mr. Jackson, the Atlanta City Council legislated a name change of the Airport on October 20, 2003. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport recognizes the visionary leadership that Mr. Jackson had for the airport, promoting its growth, as well as the significant role the Airport continues to play in the aviation industry

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wrt

August 30th, 2009
3:44 pm

If the whites are so stupid that they won’t unite, be proud of their heritage, and scream as loud as the blacks would if this memo had been from the white side of town, then another black mayor is exactly what we need.

KluxeDog

August 30th, 2009
3:45 pm

Real Mark, Hell is full of people like you, and I wish you a speedy path where Hitler, Po Pot, Sadam and you will enjoy peace at last. Oh I forgot you friends JB Stoner, and the rest of the Red *eck crew.

Dan Deacon

August 30th, 2009
3:45 pm

spec..The problem is that people like you ignore the facts. This article is not about other groups. It’s about the current event going on with the blacks attempting to discriminate by rallying blacks to vote for blacks (this biggest racist and fraud voter getters is ACORN – CONVICTED OF THIS CRIME) via an email surrounding the mayoral race!

This comment area should be limited to that discussion and not some agenda you want to discuss….so discuss the facts or just shutup.

Dreux

August 30th, 2009
3:45 pm

All I can say is… God help us all when Shirley Franklin is gone. She is the only one of the entire group who makes me proud to be from Atlanta.

Cynthia Tucker McKinney

August 30th, 2009
3:47 pm

Shirley most likely agrees with the sentiment. But on heels of Obama’s flubbing of the beligerant Harvard Professor Case, she is smart enough to realize that the American people are tired of the race card. For the record, Obama’s approval record and public support for his HealthCare plan evaporated after the aformentioned incident. Obama betrayed his own post racial image and the bloom fell off his rose.