Rainbow PUSH Atlanta’s Janice Mathis fights for economic fairness


Janice L. Mathis, Esq. is always on the front lines. The Southern Region Rainbow Push vice president recently called on Congress to pass a clean spending bill, meaning one not tied to the Affordable Care Act.

“The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. It has spoken,” Mathis said in October during a rally and picket she organized at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. “The Affordable Care Act is law. And we ought not try and undo it by shutting down the government and holding not just the employees, but the American people hostage.” Mathis passionately shared that progress would take both sides sitting down to talk, but she blamed the U.S House Republicans for the recent budget impasse.

On Friday, Nov. 1 and Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 Rainbow PUSH Atlanta is hosting the 14th Annual Creating Opportunity Conference of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund at Atlanta’s Hyatt Regency Hotel.  This year’s theme is “Fairness in the Workplace, the Marketplace and the Public Square.”

Here, she discusses the much-anticipated event.

What can attendees expect at this year’s Creating Opportunity Conference?

They can expect to receive good information and tips on how to grow their businesses, start their business, choose a college and receive scholarships, as well as how to stop the tide of right wing politics in our nation.

How were the speakers selected for this year’s conference?

They’re chosen based on the work needed. We’ll have chairs from the Legislative Black Caucus from around the southeast speaking. Why the LBC? It’s because they represent the people at the arm of government that determines redistricting. People don’t realize state legislators reapportion the Congress.

Next, Georgia Power’s Monica Caston is one of the very few female vice presidents in the energy industry in the southeast. People are concerned about the cost of energy and whether we are going solar, etc. She’s one of few black women in the country who makes those decisions.

Will this conference address how we need to prepare for and/or avoid a possible shutdown in the future?

We are bringing together a healthy contingency of elected officials to help us organize so we can avoid another shutdown. The Tea Party is effective because their objectives are very clear. When I was a kid, we had public swimming pools; they put cement in them to keep certain people from swimming in it. The University of Georgia was shut down to keep certain people from attending school there.  As the nation becomes more multicultural, it will get tenser in politics. To my dismay, we have a lot of people that don’t believe in marches and protests. There’s nothing like being directly involved and shaping the government.

How are you bridging the gap to involve more young people?

There’s a college fair; in knowledge, there is power. We are stressing to them to “make their necessity felt.” Young people love sports and entertainment. Living examples will speak: the only black female athletic director in the southeast, South Carolina State University’s Charlene Johnson; the first five black guys to play football at UGA as well as retired head football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley will talk about integrating the institution’s football team in 1971.  Redan High School’s baseball team will also be there as well as performers and artists. Prizes will be given away.

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