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Monday, February 28, 2011

Thomas R. Carter, a man of integrity

As Black History Month comes to a close, we are reminded that there is much about ourselves that we still do not know. That’s why the mission of informing the world about our contributions to past events must continue.

In that vein, we are reminded of change sparked by those still living who persevere in managing the present and futures of our neighborhoods, communities, states, nation, and world.

One such man is Thomas R. Carter, a critical thinker and team leader I would like to pay tribute to today. This is just a small pronouncement that should fill a book instead of a column, for the depth of the man is deep and his reach extremely influential.

Carter, 71, grew up in Orange Mound, Tenn., a pocketed African-American community in South Memphis on land originally known as the John Deaderick Plantation. He is a graduate of Melrose High School, home of the Golden Wildcats.

When you meet Carter, you are enamored with his speech and hand motions. One thumb has two fingernails. He is highly animated. He often wears a baseball cap. His voice is deep, loud, and self-assured. He drives a truck without electric door locks or windows. He is constantly on the go but always has time for a joke when you see him in a parking lot.

Carter is the husband of his second wife, Candace, who he lovingly calls Candi. He has five adult children and several grand kids. He is an Air Force veteran, has worked on Wall Street, and was an early programmer at IBM, the only job where he said he did not experience racial discrimination.

Involved in several organizations, Carter said the now disbanded Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Support Group was a powerful force in Cobb County. He was instrumental in its dealings with the county school board.

When invited to talk to my fourth grade computer class at Garrison Mill Elementary school in the ‘90’s, Carter’s message focused on planning for success. The assignment for students was to type notes on IBM word processors while he talked. “You must have a plan,” one student typed.

Known as "TC" to friends, Carter seems to be acquainted with everyone in town, especially politicians and pseudo politicians, and claims to have been in the background helping anyone who has made it. He has the personal phone numbers of important folks throughout Georgia.

An active member of the Cobb County Democratic Committee, Carter is a former member of the Kennedy-King Democratic Party in Queens, N.Y.

He is a proponent of Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) which he adopted after mistakenly taking a class he thought dealt with computer programming. NLP is the process of sending, receiving, storing, and responding to verbal and non-verbal communication which affects behavior.

Carter recently recovered from a pre-stroke condition and vowed to cut back on community involvement because of family pleadings. Within two months, however, Carter was back to doing what he does best – problem solving - and he appears younger as a result.

Focusing on having small meetings with others, Carter outlines his agenda, even when just three are gathered, and met recently to discuss how to help Cobb Democrats gain members.

He ran for County Commissioner in 1988, securing 10,000 votes. “We must be at the decision making table,” is one of his favorite quotes. Another one is “Be careful who you trust.”

Do not use without permission.
(Thomas Carter at political fundraiser with Debby and Bob Overstreet in 2008.)

Carter spends his retirement looking for work, searching for causes, playing golf as therapy, highlighting words and phrases in newspaper articles, mentoring community activists, and answering emails. “BOTH POLITICIANS AND DIAPERS NEED TO BE CHANGED OFTEN AND FOR THE SAME REASONS!” was in the text of a recent email he forwarded to friends.

One of Carter’s heroes was the late Oscar Freeman, former president of the local NAACP. In an interview for the Kennesaw State University oral history project, Carter said, “Oscar Freeman, I would walk on water for if I could.” Carter claims that his relationship to Freeman spurred his involvement in community activities.

Carter has integrity. If he says he’s going to be someplace, he shows up; if he says he’s going to do something, it gets done. Such qualities in men are hard to find.
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cobb EMC board candidate discusses issues facing co-op

Upon the recommendation of Roswell Mayor Jere Wood, Eric Broadwell is running for the Cobb EMC Board, Area 9 in Georgia, the seat presently held by Board Chairman Larry Chadwick. According to Broadwell, open meetings for Cobb EMC are a rarity - something he wants to change.

Cobb EMC provides electricity to approximately 200,000 residents. It owns power plants, wires, distribution lines, and dams and also performs landscaping services when trees are too close to facilities. Cobb EMC is not regulated by the Public Service Commission.

Broadwell said some of the recent problems Cobb EMC faces are due to "running its own ship... like a private club" without integrity, transparency, or oversight. President and CEO Dwight Brown faces a 31-count indictment brought against him by Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head which includes conspiracy and racketeering charges.

"It's always a challenge when you are trying to get a member-run organization to function correctly," Broadwell said. An aerospace engineering graduate of Georgia Tech and former Southern Company consultant, Broadwell has worked on forecasting and power projection teams.

Broadwell and other Cobb EMC reform candidates embrace the platform of open governance, open board meetings held on a regular basis, member feedback, and information dissemination. Broadwell said the Brown lawsuit concerns the operation of the business.

"Let's look at events that led up to the indictment of Dwight Brown. Look at the payments made to Brown for his ownership in Cobb Energy. What benefits are Mr. Brown and other people going to personally receive from inside decisions?” Broadwell added.

“Wouldn't it be nice if you had the lowest rates in the country, or your EMC was run so efficiently that when you saw a real estate sign on the front of your house, it didn't say this is a certain school district, but it said this is a Cobb EMC house, and you knew your low utility bill will drive real estate values and investment up? I want my community to be valued and my quality of life raised," Broadwell concluded.

Another major issue confronting the board is the construction of a coal-fired power plant in middle Georgia, the $2 billion-plus Plant Washington.

"I don't know if the present board has looked at all the options available. Conservation can go a long way with almost no overhead or reoccurring costs." Broadwell said natural gas and micro hydro alternatives also need to be considered.
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

15th Amendment Ratification

The 15th amendment, guaranteeing the right to vote for all Americans regardless of race or color, was ratified on this day in 1928.

My most memorable experience surrounding voting was as a poll watcher in the 1970's. I was working for a school board campaign and noticed that the poll representatives were allowing voters to sign in using a pen with the competitor's name written on it. This was disputed by me, and the pen was thrown out. By the way, the candidate I supported won!

What experiences tied to voting have you had that were memorable? Please comment.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kym Kennedy featured in Essence magazine

I was delighted to see and hear my friend, Kym Kennedy, on CNN discussing an article about her researching her family's roots in Essence Magazine. Read the article at:

A time for nonprofits: focus on Atlanta’s Urban League

Wearing a Santa Claus hat, a judge stood erect in a metro Atlanta courtroom filled to capacity with defendants of color. “I’m not a bad guy because I may evict you from your home before Christmas," he said. "It’s neither my fault nor your landlady’s who is not in the business of running a charity. You have no excuse for not paying rent just because your baby got sick, you got fired, or your husband ran out on you.

“Most of you couldn’t afford an apartment in the first place but signed a lease for $700 instead of renting a room for $300 a month. Unless there’s an accounting error, you’ll have to move out.” With that, the judge called the 2008 court to order, a judicial vista mocking the poor and making a case for nonprofit organizations.

Atlanta Urban League across from Hurt Park
Fast forward to Summer 2010. Soulful, tenor sounds emanate from Hurt Park. The temperature is 95 degrees, and there is little shade. Wilson Pickett’s “In the midnight hour” is sung by a 60 year old, Vietnam-era, combat vet who calls himself Richard the Guitar Man, just evicted from his home last week.

“I get a small check which is not enough to make ends meet, so I let my house go,” said Richard who escapes being arrested for panhandling in “Hotlanta”, once described as a city too busy to hate. “I’m here trying to pick up change for cigarettes.

“Folks lock their car doors when they see me asking for help. Most of us are harmless and just need a place to stay until dark. We need more than an occasional free sandwich and God talk,” Richard said.

“Elderly women with two plastic bags filled with all their worldly possessions fear being taken in on vagrancy charges,” Richard exclaimed. Drifters sway to the beat of Richard’s melody which floats across the pavement to the portal of 100 Edgewood Avenue, the United Way Building, which houses the Atlanta Urban League on the 6th floor.

Asked about seeking help from the League, Richard responded, “They’re only helping people that really don’t need the help they’re offering. They don’t give a damn about us,” Richard said.

Nancy Flake-Johnson, President and CEO of the Atlanta Urban League, believes it’s the Age for nonprofits. She earns $140k annually. “There’s a lot of work to do, and we’re in the right business at the right time,” Flake-Johnson said.

Eliminating racial discrimination and enhancing economic opportunities for African-Americans spur Urban League programs. Founded in 1910, the national headquarters in New York City focuses on parity, power, and civil rights and publishes papers on issues facing African-Americans.

Flake-Johnson’s positive energy is like an effervescent drug. During our interview, Flake-Johnson was told about Richard’s comments. She responded by going to the park to see how she could help. By the time she crossed the street, Richard had moved to another venue.

“In this tough economy, people come to us because they are out of work or in jeopardy of losing their homes, much like the gentleman you met in the park today,” Flake-Johnson said. Flake-Johnson distributed her card to remnants lingering there. “We have plenty of customers, but not enough funds to support all our programs,” said her assistant who deals with former prisoners seeking work.

Is the Urban League able to meet this challenge? How does what the UL accomplished in the 1950s differ from what it’s doing now?

“I can’t say …so much has changed,” said Dr. TourĂ© Reed, associate History professor at Illinois State and author of “Not Alms but Opportunity: The Urban League and the Politics of Racial Uplift, 1910-1950”.

“To my thinking, all civil rights groups should lobby Congress for work relief programs and good jobs that pay well. Supplying job training to the unemployed and helping high school students get GEDs are not sufficient,” Reed said.

According to the Georgia State Ethics Commission, the Atlanta Urban League is not a registered lobbyist. Neither are Georgia chapters of the NAACP or SCLC.

Reed said the Urban League faces more than a bad economy but also a resurgence of the Eugenics Movement. “The economic problems Americans face cannot be solved by volunteerism or the outsourcing of social services,” Reed concluded.

The League must also battle against its bourgeoisie, assimilation image and refrain from making it appear blacks are financially frivolous, uneducated consumers who must be retrained to get jobs.

“If it takes years of job training to become marketable, that’s disastrous for individuals and families,” Reed said. “The deck is so stacked and stakes are so high, and there’s not enough money, so some kind of triage has to be implemented,” Reed said.

In his 1971 book “Blaming the Victim”, William Ryan wrote, “The primary cause of social problems is powerlessness. The cure for powerlessness is power. Power must be redistributed. That redistribution will then permit the redistribution of income.”

“It’s about getting people more engaged and realizing they have the power within to take control of their destinies,” Flake-Johnson concluded. She’s focused on the future and will be using technology to help clients, including online webinars and virtual resumes.

“My vision is that our city, our whole community, our nation – we’re all going to live a better quality of life if the opportunities for a quality life are open to all. Society pays the price when individuals don’t perceive they have options. It’s all in our vested interests, and education is the key.”

Follow the Urban League of Greater Atlanta on Facebook at:!/group.php?gid=68614914840

These interviews were conducted in August 2010. ©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Hole in the Head" movie reveals shocking story

The documentary "Hole in the Head: A Life Revealed" tells the extraordinary life story of Vertus Hardiman. YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE THAT THESE EVENTS HAPPENED, BUT THEY DID - and they surpass the Tuskegee syphilis experiment in horror because children were the victims.

In the film, Hardiman reveals a tragic secret of medical malfeasance, terrible suffering, ignorance, and hatred. Hardiman was experimented on at age 5 in an Indiana hospital in 1927. He was one of ten children who received huge doses of radiation on the same day.

Vertus Hardiman's story is a modern day horror story that is true but not known to many.

According to, "Human experimentation -- that is, subjecting live human beings to science experiments that are sometimes cruel, sometimes painful, sometimes deadly and always a risk -- is a major part of U.S. history that you won't find in most history or science books." A list of documented experiments can be found at:

To watch the movie trailer, go to:

For more information on the film, go to:
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

ATL metro gas price for regular hits $3.49 at Chevron.

Imagining MLK at the unemployment office

Courtesy: Allen Temple A.M.E. Church
I wonder what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be doing if he were alive today, and to whom would he be talking. Since his last day on Earth was spent trying to help workers, maybe he would be trying to query the unemployed about their condition. Maybe he would be in the unemployment line himself.

Long lines, muddy construction, and non-existent job offers await claimants at a metro Atlanta unemployment office/career center.  Some people walk in, turn around, and leave, jeopardizing their ability to receive benefits for the week.

The atmosphere is described as “unbelievable” by some and "zoo-like" by others. It appears the system is discouraging folks from completing the process.
What would MLK find at the local unemployment office?
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Waiting line inside Career Center
Before entering the office, Kenneth, a New Jersey warehouse employee laid off for one week, was optimistic about the system. “I hope the process isn’t too slow. I’m pretty sure things should work out. Believe God, and it will come,” he said. Three minutes later, he was walking to his car.

“The line is extremely long,” he reported. “Honestly, it seems that they need to be hiring people to work in the unemployment office to speed up the process. I didn’t expect it to be like that. Wow, that was unexpected,” said Kenneth who left to go use the public library computer to search for a job.

Tia was waiting in the parking lot. “I’m just starting today and don’t have a lot of experience with the process.” She was also let go from her job last week. “I’m hoping there will be some resources here, but I don’t know.”

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Leslie said he faces age discrimination.
Leslie said he has been unemployed for a year and a half. Speaking about the help he received, he said, “They do the best work I have ever seen, to try to get people their money.” He believes his age has hampered him from finding work. “You try to find a job, and it’s very difficult after you reach a certain age.” Leslie said he’s trying very hard to earn a livelihood again, is tired of sitting at home, looking at the sunlight, and reading library books. Lately, he has read The Bridge, Team of Rivals and No Ordinary Time which he borrowed from the library. “It’s up to the government to bring in more business,” he said of his chances of finding work.


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Blank spaces on jobs board
A laid off flight attendant said it has been impossible for him to find work after more than a year, and he was filing for an extension of benefits. Without health insurance, he was afraid he would catch the flu while waiting. “My sister has a Master’s degree and couldn’t find a job, so she started a business. The only problem she faces is tax liability,” he said.

Lawrence, a Computer Science student, was laid off from his machine operator job in a manufacturing plant four months ago. “The staff here are doing their best and have been wonderful to everybody coming here. They understand people’s conditions,” he said. He claimed that his ability to get a job would depend on improvement in the economy.

Another customer was told at 12:30 p.m. to come back at 2:30 p.m. and was seen at 4:00 p.m. “This is a very inefficient system. Instead of looking for a job, I am using my gas to come back and wait.”

What would MLK do?
King’s dream did not end with hopes of neighbors accepting people based on character. King's last dream was dreamed months before his assassination when he announced plans for a Poor People's Campaign demanding passage of a $12 billion Economic Bill of Rights. He upped his demands to a $30 billion campaign to include the annual construction of 500,000 affordable residences. This dream would have guaranteed employment to all able-bodied citizens, incomes to those unable to work, and an end to housing discrimination.
Do not use without permission.
Computers are available for job searching.
His last dream was about jobs, not about children singing Kumbaya.

If here, he would probably be protesting the Afghanistan and Iraqi Wars. He would be doing the same things that were starting to make him unpopular near his end.

If MLK were an unemployed Ph.D living in metro Atlanta, he would probably tell others to get on a bus to Washington, D.C. to get Obama’s attention. He would encourage folks to lobby for a Jobs Bill. He would be blogging on how to effectively manage a fund-raising project.

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Client checks phone while waiting
He would be an advocate for the unemployed and list merits of entrepreneurship. He would be tweeting his opinion on gun control. His LinkedIn page would recommend a local networking group. He would be ministering to the poor through a non-profit organization. After watching Christopher Nolan’s movie Inception, 21st century dream architect Martin Luther King, Jr. would be planting seeds to end joblessness in the hearts and minds of world leaders.

One thing he would not be doing is sitting still.

These pictures and interviews done Jan. 14, 2011.
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Do you have a story to tell about your military experience?

U.S. soldier Jon Rink writes from Afghanistan

Jon Rink
 (This is from an email Jon sent to his former high school classmate.)

My full name is Jonathan Adam Rink. I was stationed at Fort Knox, Ky., but I am currently in Camp Clark, Afghanistan,  Khost Province. I'm from Buffalo, N.Y.

Lots of people don't know the real reason why we are here. We wear a ISAF patch on our shoulder which means International Security of Afghan Forces. One of our main objectives is to support and train the Afghan National Army to be capable of doing the same as U.S. soldiers; then they can defend their country, and we can go home. 

The war against the Taliban can't be won through brute force.  We need leverage and support from the people who live here.

We follow the COIN strategy which means counter insurgency, and the main idea is to win the "hearts and minds" of the civilians. We want to show the people that they can trust us and make them feel more secure in their area.
Afghan National Army soldier

When we get leverage from the people, they will help give us intel on the Taliban, weapon stashes, and IED's. We are victorious when we win the people, because if the Taliban lose support of their people, they won't be accepted.

Photos and email published with Jon Rink's permission, but not for other uses.
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Female politicians respond to Arizona shootings

Here are some female politician responses to the Arizona shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and the effects it may have on running for political office.

 “I recognize the shootings as bizarre behavior from a very small part of our society.  I do not know how a person can protect themselves from this type of behavior other than remain aware of your surroundings and the behavior of the individuals around you.” –Alison Bartlett, Cobb County School  Board Chair, Post 7

“I find it hard to believe that running for a state office, that one would be a target. There are still people who are willing to stick their necks out, just as people are willing to go into the military, knowing full well that they
are becoming targets. It really is important for elected officials to be able to interact with the public. This incident is very regrettable for our country, but I hope that it will not alter the political process or limit politician’s contacts with their constituents. It is really important for them to get out there, see the people, and talk to them, and that’s what Giffords was doing.”-RuthE Levy, President, Cobb Democratic Women; three-time candidate, Georgia State House, District 45

“The Arizona shooting is definitely going to have a chilling effect on people thinking about running for political office. In my case, we had several parades, and we gathered 10 neighborhood children to ride with us. I would be hesitant in the current environment to do that again. It’s a true shame, and it will affect the quality of women stepping forward to get the discourse rolling. It’s a very sad thing.” -Diane Lore, 2010 candidate, Georgia State House, District 41

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Georgia HOPE scholars face insufficient funds

Students who received HOPE scholarships in the past may not find funds available next year. Pell grants may also be cut if the President's new budget is adopted. Students need to be informed and active in the scholarship debate, especially since tuition costs are rising.

According to the Associated Press, "Georgia's popular HOPE program is set to go broke by 2012 after paying for more than 1 million students to attend college." (

David Wilkerson
State Representatives David Wilkerson, Alisha Morgan, and Stacey Evans will host a town hall community discussion on the status of the HOPE scholarship, Monday, Feb. 21, at Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU) in Building A, Room 216 at 6:30 p.m.

Alisha Morgan
"The yearly cost of the HOPE scholarship is now exceeding incoming revenues," Wilkerson said in an email. "Changes will need to be made. Possible changes are being discussed, and we need your input on how to preserve the availability of the HOPE scholarship for future generations."

I used to think the main reason HOPE Scholarships were instituted and funded by the lottery was because the state, under former Governor Zell Miller, wanted to help deserving students afford college. That's only part of the story.

Stacey Evans
If high school scholars do not have the HOPE scholarship program to help finance their educations in Georgia colleges and universities, what affect will it have on the state's institutions of higher education?

Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE), created in 1993, is a merit-based, higher education scholarship funded soley by revenue from the Georgia Lottery. it is administered by the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC).

For information on applying for the HOPE, go to:
  ©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Urban Blight in Southwest Atlanta

Do not use without permission.
Note: This article is dedicated to my stepfather, the late Professor Lionel Lorenzo Crump, Sr., who helped establish the Department of Community Planning and Urban Studies at Alabama A&M University in Normal, Ala.

Do not use without permission.
(Properties across from daycare center on Bolton Rd. in Atlanta, Ga. Pictures taken Jan. 28 & Feb. 11, 2011)
Just blocks away from historic Martin Luther King Drive and across from a daycare center, you will find dilapidated housing on Fairburn and Bolton roads. These are examples of Southwest Atlanta experiencing urban decay from a failed economy or the City of Atlanta not being able to convince private owners to clean up or demolish abandoned properties in residential areas.

 Do not use without permission.
Dumping at 914, 940, and 950 Bolton
“If you are a parent, you wouldn’t want to put your child in school across from that,” said Lavette Reeves, director of Herrington Day School located at 974 Bolton Rd. 

“It makes the whole community look bad. After 6 p.m., squatters from there could come over here and break in and steal from us. Do you think rats are over there? If we could get it cleaned up, it would be really nice,” Reeves said.

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In a ruinous state
After so many years of neglect, one wonders why the City of Atlanta has not exercised its right of eminent domain to condemn, demolish, or restore these properties. Several years ago, developers were allowed to "write down" or buy such properties for $1 and then take out low interest loans to renovate them.This may have been the case at Waverly Crest and Maple Creek Apartments on Bolton Rd.

Do not use without permission.
One group of Garden Class D apartments at 914 and 950 Bolton Road were known as Waverly Crest. Property ownership records on the Fulton County Tax Assessor’s website document the owners as Waverly Crest Homeowners Association Inc., Alfred Trappanese, Home Dream Ventures LLC, Thomas Chapman, and Denise Kummer. 

In most instances, banks offloaded properties to owners for $1 - $10 each, and the owners left the vacant, burned, semi-boarded shells for as long as three years. According to tax assessor documents, some of the banks involved in these transactions were Wells Fargo Bank, HSBC Bank, and Bank of America.

One person walking past the apartments was Sam who lives on Bolton Rd. “It’s been looking like this for a couple of years. They were working on it, but then they just stopped,” Sam said.

His recommendation: “It needs to be cleaned up, make it look decent. Either knock it down or rebuild.” Sam said he does house improvements himself and would gratefully take a job as a contractor renovating the apartments where his sister used to reside. 

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Another nearby home owner, who said he lived in the community for 15 years, declined to give his name. “Wait a minute now,” he said. “I don’t know much about it. All I know is that the people moved out. They need to be fixed up or demolished, one,” he said. 

Torched blight
After contacting the City of Atlanta about these properties, we received permission to go with an inspector to take additional photos. "We 've got it covered," said a code enforcement officer, City of Atlanta, Department of Planning and Community Development, who wished not to be identified. He said the case is working its way through the court system.

One apartment building on Bolton Rd.
A search of the Atlanta Housing Authority Docket for Jan 11, 2011 found that 914 and 950 Bolton Rd were cited for code violations, including unsecured vacant buildings and expose occupant to illness or physical injury. 

The buildings have open doorways and access through unbarred windows. Several former apartment units have been burned, and mold can be seen on ceilings.  Wingcom Watchdog would like to know whether an insurance claim was filed or damages collected on these properties. 

Do not use without permission.Maybe Fire Department records could be checked to see when the properties were torched. There is evidence of people living in the burned out shells, with shoes and clothing located in front of one entrance.

History or decay?
A two story house on SW Fairburn did not have a visible address but was directly across the street from a vacant lot which was marked 650 Fairburn.

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On a visit with the code enforcement officer, he would not go inside to inspect the building because he considered it too dangerous. He said in his professional opinion, it needed to be demolished.

Passersby walk in front of the structure in the weeds on a muddied path. There could be a security risk here. The street is busy with cars during the day, but the ominous atmosphere must be scary at night.

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Could this be the house listed on the National Historic Registry as the Judge William Wilson House? If so, it was added 1980 as Building #80001078, and the address is 501 Fairburn Rd., SW, Atlanta. The Wilson House sits on 150 acres and was built between 1850 and 1874.

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Fairburn Rd. property

Wingcom Watchdog contacted the Registry and five additional historical institutions to find out more information on this property. We are waiting on their research findings into the dwelling's ownership.

Neither restoration or conservation can help this building. Rumor has it that this residence was built by slaves and may be owned privately or by the City of Atlanta.

Daniel Johnson, a recent KSU art graduate said, "I don't think the slaves would mind if that place was torn down."

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Tomi Johnson and inspector
(Taken by Daniel G. Johnson)

Court documents for Bolton Rd properties: (

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lauren Baker featured in LexArts ad

Beauty and talent run in families.
"We are all gifted. That is our inheritance."  Ethel Waters

Patricia Beatty-Embry has been playing piano in churches and other venues in and around Lexington, Kentucky for over 40 years. She passed her talent on to her daughter, Elaine Baker, who is a pianist and vocalist. Baker's daughter, Lauren, is now featured in a ad.
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Black History Month Tribute

Focus on accomplishments of family, friends and neighbors.

Whether you label it Black History Month or African-American History Month, February marks 28 days of highlighting achievements of U.S. citizens whose contributions to society are often ignored. Heralding black achievements should be done every day of the year!

This month puts the spotlight on the heroes and sheroes who achieved against great odds. Scientists, community activists, educators, religious leaders, and business people are just a few professions of this elite group.

Lessons learned from their history speak to the strength of a people who have "gotten over" and lived with high moral character, clinging to their ideals.

We look back so we can move forward. People of all races and persuasions can identify with the same spirit which defines winners! That, in a nutshell, is why Black History Month can be celebrated by all.

I would like to pay homage to my grandfather, the late James Luther Daniels of Elkins, W.Va. who was a husband and father to eight children.  Seven of his issue graduated from college during and after the depression, at a time when only 8% of African Americans received college diplomas.

My grandfather helped my mother and her siblings achieve by working three jobs, buying and renting real estate, and urging them to serve in the military.

What African American from the past would you like to recognize? Please comment and post their picture.

Caption: James Luther Daniels, former U.S. Postal Worker from Elkins, W.Va.
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Atlanta WingChun to perform at Ip Man 2 premiere

Atlanta WingChun will perform a kung fu demonstration at the Atlanta premiere of Ip Man 2; Legend of the Grandmaster, at Regal Hollywood 24, North I-85, Friday, February 18, at 6:30 p.m.

The movie will start at 7 p.m. The address is 3265 Northeast Expressway Access, Chamblee, Georgia, 30341. (770) 936-8235.

Kurk and Ayron Johnson manage Atlanta WingChun. “We were contacted by Kristen Osborne of Variance Films in New York and are excited about our inclusion in the premiere,” said Head Instructor Kurk Johnson of Atlanta WingChun.

Both Johnson and his son, Instructor Ayron Johnson, will perform the demonstration and will be accompanied by their students from metro Atlanta.

The martial arts spectacular that's been breaking box office records across Asia comes to the big screen in its full uncut glory. International megastar Donnie Yen reprises his iconic role as Ip Man, the real-life Wing Chun grandmaster who trained Bruce Lee.

This is a stand alone film, so if you've been unfortunate enough to miss out on IP MAN, you can still enjoy both the story and the kung fu mastery of IP MAN 2.

Atlanta WingChun, also known as the International Academy of WingChun® Atlanta, is a division of the International Academy of WingChun® (IAW) headed by Grandmaster Klaus Brand of Germany. It is the only school affiliated with the IAW on the U.S. East Coast. Classes are held at Marietta Martial Arts.

For more information on the Atlanta Wing Chun, go to:
The movie website is:
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cobb EMC trims trees in neighborhoods

Cobb EMC crews - 2/9/11
Routine tree maintenance is being performed in neighborhoods by an electric co-op who says it will lessen losses from icy branches falling on lines and interrupting service. Some members say that Cobb EMC should only be providing electricity and not performing landscaping services on residential properties.

Cobb EMC supervisor Robert and a crew of five were on Susan Court in Marietta, Georgia, cutting back trees after last night’s snow. There was approximately an inch of accumulation in the Kerry Creek subdivision.

Three trucks and a chipper were involved in this job.

“This is routine maintenance. We’re trying to avoid potential dangers from ice forming on tree limbs and falling on power lines,” he said.

Robert said tree limbs should be between 10 – 15 feet away from overhead lines. Cobb EMC seeks approval from homeowners before entering residential yards to cut trees and pick up clippings.

Electric Membership Corporations, or EMCs, were first created in the 1930's to provide electricity to rural areas. Cobb EMC owns power plants, dams, wires, and distribution lines. 
“We have permission to cut down that popular tree in that yard,” he said.

Robert predicted that Cobb EMC will have jobs openings on maintenance teams in the near future because of retirements. 

He also expects temperatures to climb this weekend when he will take advantage of the good weather to ride his horse.
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.