Black stories are HOPE Atlanta’s story. During Black History Month and beyond, let’s listen.
Black History Month has taken on a new significance in the national dialogue, while trends in homelessness, hunger, and racial inequality continue to persist.
But change is in the air. We’re forever thankful to our African American leadership, staff, clients, and partners who aren’t just telling Black history but living it. Here are a few people and groups to watch, both within our organization and around Metro Atlanta.
1. HOPE Atlanta Board Member Alexis Davis Smith is making waves and making room for others
Founder, President, and CEO of PRecise Communications, Alexis comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Beyond helping consumer brands connect with multicultural markets for more than 20 years (and becoming a national voice for multicultural marketing), she takes pride in how her business positively impacts the community:
“I’m proud that I’ve been able to employ young talent that other agencies may have overlooked, possibly due to their skin color, college, or name.”
– Alexis Davis Smith, Entrepreneur and HOPE Atlanta Board Member
Her agency also established an endowed scholarship for Spelman College students.
Alexis’s passion for uplifting others eventually led her to join HOPE Atlanta’s Board of Directors. “The organization is important to me. The staff truly does transformative work. I wish we could help every homeless person in the metro Atlanta area.”
Her advice to other entrepreneurs? Build off of previous experience and your network. Have a reserve of cash while you wait for the “big ship” to come in. Until then, remember: “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
2. Young Professionals Board Member Jerry Getant is the definition of perseverance
As a lifelong entrepreneur who immigrated from Haiti in his teens, Jerry Getant personifies the saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” He founded his most recent venture, Getant Capital, just before the pandemic hit in 2020. Despite having to quickly adapt his relationship-driven business to the new challenges COVID-19 presented, he stayed the course and didn’t look back.
He decided to get involved with HOPE Atlanta a few years ago after hearing a formerly homeless veteran’s story during Heroes for HOPE. Because he had a brother serving in the military, the story hit home: “That could easily have been him,” he said.
His advice to others?
“Start where you are and trust the process. There will never be a perfect time. As you begin the journey, it will be exciting, but I guarantee there will be dark days, doubts, and the feeling to give up. Success is on the other side of these negative feelings and obstacles.”
– Jerry Getant, Entrepreneur and HOPE Atlanta Young Professionals Board Member
3. India Hayes and her company Mini City are fighting chronic homelessness with technology
One of our biggest challenges in securing resources for people experiencing homelessness is the lack of legal identification. Black-owned Atlanta tech company Mini City is changing that, with technology that allows our clients to apply for identification at partner housing programs.
“We […] have a range of commitments we will engage in to spread awareness and education on the Census2020 as well as the importance of having a legal form of identification.”
– India Hayes, CEO of Mini City
4. A new movement of young civil rights activists is growing
As racial justice issues gained due attention in the national dialogue, Atlanta deeply mourned several civil rights icons’ loss. Among them: Congressman John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Hank Aaron.
But their legacies have inspired a brand new generation of activists who are keeping the work going.
“You have the ‘Wisdom Generation,’ which is Representative Lewis’ generation. Then you have the ‘Professional Generation,’ which is my generation. Then you have the Energy Generation,’ and the key is just to make sure that we pass each element down to the Energy Generation, so they can understand how to effectively get change.”
– Gerald Griggs, Second Vice President of Atlanta Chapter of the NAACP (to 11 Alive)
As if to symbolize this rebirth, Georgians came together this month to plant hundreds of blooming trees through Freedom Park to honor the late Congressman John Lewis. You can read more about the Flowering Forest project here.
5. There’s no shortage of excellent Black-owned restaurants to enjoy in your neighborhood
And, small businesses need our support more than ever. The AJC has compiled a list of Black-owned restaurants and food businesses in Metro Atlanta. With more than 300 on this list (many of which are actively giving back to the community themselves), you’re sure to find your next go-to spots.
6. The Black Lives Matter Movement is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize
This news comes 57 years after Martin Luther King, Jr. received the award.
Do you have good news to share on Black History Month, or know someone else in Atlanta who deserves a shoutout? Leave a comment!