BOC out of touch with the community
While civil war symbols are coming down around us, the Mableton community is taken aback by a symbol being erected right in our own backyards with the naming of our newest park after a civil war battle. SPOTLIGHT South Cobb News could not make this up – even if we tried.
Just a few short months ago, we witnessed the horror of our US Capitol being stormed. One of the most reprehensible moments, among many, was seeing one of the terrorists proudly walking the halls with a confederate flag thrown across his shoulder.
Like the pain that other persecuted groups experience when they see symbols of hate, there are feelings of horror, heartache, and anguish among people of color when we see the confederate flag being waved around. We see a symbol of slavery of our ancestors and a constant reminder of the atrocities that they experienced during 200 years in bondage. It is a recapitulation of the years of fear and death that followed at the hands of the KKK who freely killed, maimed, and tortured black people, and those who supported and defended us.
These are honest feelings that we should not have to explain each time we refuse to embrace this symbol, but we do. Members of our community, especially the Legacy subdivision – located closest to the new park – went before the BOC over the last two years to demand movement in creating the new park in our Mableton community and giving it a name that reflected diversity and inclusion. The BOC stalled at first, mulling over the parks’ name after a few requested a name that would be a tribute to the civil war. They joined others who lived in other parts of Georgia in attending the BOC meetings and demanding a name that reflected a civil war battle that was fought in the area or the general that led it. The MDJ covered the community’s resolution in articles that it wrote during that time, including one that can be viewed here.
To the community’s delight, the BOC voted yes on the park, but pulled naming the park from the agenda for a later date. Members of the community involved in this matter would find out later that the naming of the park was placed in the hands of a Mableton faction – who routinely and some believe misleadingly goes before the BOC claiming to represent all the people of Mableton, instead of the small group that follows them. Their leadership and membership, which includes civil war preservationist, came up with a name that gave civil war patrons exactly what they wanted, another monument to the “good old days”. They would represent to the BOC that this was a compromise that the community had agreed upon, even though they had not spoken to members of the community who were in opposition of naming the park after the civil war or anything related to it. Without knowing its meaning, residence in Legacy may be surprised to find that their subdivision bares a name honoring the confederacy
The BOC knew of the community’s opposition to a civil war nod, but rejected the name supported by those who live here which was Mableton Discovery Park. Instead, they accepted this proffer by this group as an acceptable compromise and voted yes on its civil war name. Many have questioned why our community, especially one that is as diverse as ours, would ever agree to a compromise that forces us to remember the enslavement of people of color or the war the south fought to keep them enslaved? Without knowing its true meaning, homeowners who reside in Legacy at the River Line may be surprised to learn that their subdivision also bares a name honoring the confederacy.
What is even more astonishing in this story is that there is already a park in existence – less than a ½ mile away on the same street – that already bares part of this name in memory of the civil war. In essence, there will be two parks bearing similar names within walking distance of each other. This is what the BOC greenlighted for Mableton. We do not have official records on when this first park was created, however, some suggest that its name was also championed by the same group who insisted on naming the new Mableton park in honor of a civil war battle. The Cobb Chair, who voted in favor of this compromise name when she was the district commissioner, is poised to join a ribbon cutting ceremony in a few weeks to open the new park with its civil war inspired name. Why is this happening in 2021?
Across the country, enlighten communities with progressive leaders are removing symbols of the confederacy. Statues are being taken down willingly, while some are being pulled down by force as people of all hues are tired of waiting for politicians to do the right thing. Streets, schools, and buildings are being renamed with designations that signify hope, diversity, and a better future that is inclusive of all. Why is Cobb willing to name a park, or anything else, after that ugly period in our collective history? Where is the leadership on this issue and others that will rear its head in Mableton as we fight back the effort to preserve every strand of grass in our community in memory of the confederacy?
Our progressive community continues to reject their actions and demand that the BOC look towards our future instead of backwards at the past on this issue. Let us be the voice of those whose “voices and freedom” were taken away by slavery. Say no to the honoring of this ugly period in our history. We cannot continue to name parks that our children and families will enjoy after dark periods in our history. We must move towards names that represent the diversity and progression of this community
Contact the Board of Commissioners and tell them to course correct by taking the steps needed to address this major misstep in Mableton. Go to our Facebook page to keep the conversation going.
In the spirit of transparency, the Publisher of SPOTLIGHT once served on the board of the group pushing the compromised name of the Mableton park. Concerns regarding preserving this dark history in the community and its impact on people of color was one of the reasons she stepped away.