A group called Buckhead4BlackLives says it will hold a June 7 protest march through the neighborhood to spotlight racism and prejudice in private schools.
The march will begin at 3 p.m. at the West Paces Ferry Road shopping center at the intersection with Northside Parkway, heading to the Governor’s Mansion around 1.75 miles down West Paces. There, a 3-minute moment of silence will be held, followed by a return march.
According to the group’s Instagram account, students and alumni of the The Lovett School, a private school on Paces Ferry Road, will hold an “open discussion and reflection about the impacts of racism within the Lovett community” outside the school an hour before the march.
“The goal of Buckhead4BlackLives is to promote a sense of inclusion and empathy among black, white, and POC [people of color] communities in Atlanta, and more specifically, in our independent schools,” the group said on an Instagram account.
“… Our mission is to promote a safe, non-discriminatory environment in our schools where all students feel welcome,” the group said. “We also strive to bring attention and action to the systemic injustice that black people face, and send young adults into the society with a clear understanding of how they can combat injustice in their current and future communities.”
The protest announcement received some early statements of support on social media, including from well-known radio personality Frank Ski of Atlanta’s V-103, who wrote that his children graduated from Buckhead’s Lovett School and Pace Academy.
“This is [a] conversation long overdue!” he wrote.
There was some social media criticism as well. Buckhead real estate agent Cathy Davis Hall responded on Instagram to the announcement from the perspective of Atlanta Public Schools, saying she pays a large amount of property taxes to the schools and that complaints should be directed to the teachers union.
“You (and others who do not even live in my community or give money to the schools) are attempting to make us feel guilty for what?” she wrote. “… As a longtime resident of Buckhead, I sincerely resent this charge.”
The organizers of the group are not identified but are described as high school and college students.
Buckhead4BlackLives said it is inspired by the nationwide protest movement over the recent police-involved killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, among many other killings of black people. In Atlanta, Downtown protests have continued for a week, at one point spinning off into rioting and looting in Buckhead. The Governor’s Mansion was the scene of another Floyd-related protest on May 30.
The June 7 march is open to participation from “the black community and our allies,” the group said. It is planned as a peaceful protest where “outlandish or violent behavior” will not be tolerated. Participants were urged to bring water as well as masks and hand sanitzer to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic, and to observe such safety tactics as staying in contact with someone during the event and bringing an official ID.