A controversy in the city of Atlanta is brewing over the naming of a park in a Black community. Some are shocked that the city plans to name the park after a former mayor and Confederate officer, Major Livingston Mims.
Mims served as Atlanta’s mayor from 1901 to 1903, and was a staunch segregationist. The park development will cost an estimated $40 million and will include a statue of Mims alongside 15 other statues of Black local and national leaders and a Georgia Native American chief. Among these statues will be likenesses of noted civil rights leader Julian Bond and famed educator and leader W.E.B. Dubois. The Atlanta leadership of the NAACP states that “Including the Confederate Mims with these leaders would validate the principle of the ‘lost cause’ that has been promoted for 140 years by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, whose members include Georgia legislators, law enforcement officers and other politicians. The ‘lost cause’ postulates that the South lost the war but that the Confederate ’cause’ (enslaving Africans and people of African descent), and decision to wage war against the United States, was just.”
The planned project will use a combination of private donations and public tax dollars to honor a hero of the Confederacy and this does not sit well with some, including the Atlanta branch of the NAACP. According to a press release from the Atlanta NAACP, “There should be no building of any structure, park or green space that honors any person or organization that represents the celebration of the oppression of any racial, religious or minority group.”
Surprisingly, the naming of the park has the backing of former Atlanta mayor and civil rights icon Ambassador Andrew Young, who reportedly engaged in a heated discussion with Atlanta NAACP President Richard Rose about the park. Rose has allowed rolling out to print his Facebook post on the subject:
“Mayor Young at first sidestepped the issue of the Confederate statue but finally opined that he was not concerned about what happened before his birth in 1932. He told me that I should understand where he came from, that he lived across the street from Nazis in New Orleans, and that his father admonished him that he must learn to live with everyone. I told him that my roots were in the Mississippi Delta and that we were taught to refuse to be mistreated, which meant no climbing back stairs to go the the movies or to the back door to be served at a restaurant.
“I told him that I was opposed to Confederate celebratory monuments on public property because that effectively endorsed the principles of the Confederacy. We recognize the birthday of MLK Jr. because we celebrate his life and what he stood for: peace and the equality of man regardless of color. When we recognize the birthday of Robert E. Lee, we celebrate his life and what he stood for: White supremacy and African slavery. Young further declared that he ‘runs this damn town.’ I told him that his performance was deficient based on the condition of Vine City and English Avenue. We agreed to disagree.”