Rolling Out

How Killer Mike thinks the Westside of Atlanta can prosper and remain Black

The community leader is optimistic

Killer Mike loves his hometown of Atlanta like no other, and he sees a brighter future for everyone around him.

The Grammy-nominated rapper and activist performed at the Atlanta Hawks game on MLK Day at halftime before leaving a message to fans as he exited the court.

“We all get afraid,” Mike said. “We all get scared. So we all should stand in solidarity with courage to do the right thing. Dr. King was anti-racism, anti-classism, he was anti-poverty and he was anti-war. That means you are pro-people, you are pro-affordable health care and housing, and you are pro-people. I love you, Atlanta and good night.”

After the performance, he spoke to media members about his vision for his city.

What can we do to continue conversations about Black homeownership in the West side of Atlanta?

Shout out to John Hope Bryant…a Black man who’s leading a conversation about helping Black people get financial literacy and get credit scores up so homeownership grows.

We know when homeownership grows, so does the quality of education. I’m a product of that at Collier Heights Elementary School, from the Collier Heights community.

We know when Blacks are financially literate and can be given opportunities, they’re not redlined; they create sustainable neighborhoods that create people that reinvest. If you did not have the Cedar Grove Community, the Collier Heights community, which you have with T.I.

What’s the significance of having a T.I.?

Well, T.I. just built 143 affordable housing units right there on the West side, right where he used to trap and sell that… That is a significant thing because what it teaches is that the same ambition you have as a petty drug dealer as a teenager wanting to be Scarface, you can use becoming an actual businessman who invests in housing in your community.

My wife, Shana Render, is an amazing real estate developer; she’s working right now on a deal to bring more affordable housing along that corridor in the Bluff. We’re also building Bankhead Seafood as an actual restaurant that families can go to within 15 minutes of their house, and they don’t have to drive 30 minutes north or 30 minutes out. Along with having sustainable housing, having structures that support sustainable housing is important.

Grocery stores and drugstores must get back into our community, and small and medium businesses must be supported, which is why we bring in Bankhead Seafood. I don’t only want us to be able to live there; I want us to be able to not have to drive 40 minutes to a Whole Foods. I want us to be able to be within walking distance of the parks and exercise areas.

We have done a good job of investing. I think Atlanta, whether it’s me, T.I., Jeezy or 2 Chainz, is grooming a system of athletes and entertainers that are going to do that. 

I believe private and public partnerships can help that grow, like people at the RICE center and what they’re doing; the Russell family is going to become more financially literate to be lined up for the next 20-30 years with jobs; I’d like to see the West Side remain if not all the predominant Black enclaves because we know that helps economics in our community. We know that helps politicians get elected. We know that helped this state become more progressive.

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