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Tyrone Brooks on why GABEO was founded and what it means to black people

Tyrone_Brooks-Savannah-1_t750x550State Rep. Tyrone Brooks D-Atlanta, loves to wax poetic about the founding of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials.

Brooks is a lifetime activist in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the 20-year president of GABEO.

“Founded in 1970 by Maynard Jackson, who was [then] vice mayor of Atlanta; there was also Julian Bond, Betty Clark, [and] these were the pioneers of GABEO along with Hosea Williams,” he said. “I was national field director of SCLC. I had taken on a whole new role. I was in awe of the black folks. They had a  goal of bringing all black elected officials under one roof. I watched Jackson and his vision. I watched them; how they led GABEO.”

After helping to get a woman elected as the first female lead of GABEO, the organization’s founders turned to Brooks in the 90’s.

Describing his journey with the organization Brook remembers, “She said you owe us this. We need someone to take us to new levels. You come out of SCLC. We need that. Congresswoman McKinney called. Maynard Jackson called. We all represent the same people and the same interest. I have to give it to Maynard Jackson. He had the vision. We are not just elected officials who meet in the confines in state office. We look beyond that. There are issues beyond where we serve: reapportionment, new black districts. [We] forced the state to draw up more black districts. We sued for more black judges. We went through reapportionment in 1981 and we had to sue the state to get one majority black district that Rep. John Lewis runs today.”

“[We also] reactivated the town of Keysville, changed the state flags, increased blacks in politics across the state, reduced violence in the state, got rid of bad elements in our community and [now] working to make sure that blacks get a larger piece of the pie from the federal, state and local government,” Brooks continued.

Brooks told rolling out that the two most important issues GABEO has successfully worked on recently are the state budget, of course, and the passage of the bill authorizing the construction of a statue of Martin Luther King Jr.