I recently attended the Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) TEA Together Empowering All) Walk in Chamblee and Doraville. CPACS is a non-profit that assists immigrants and refugees to become productive members of our society, and is a key human services partner with DeKalb County in serving this growing segment of our population. As the program began, the diverse crowd, composed of many Asian nationalities, Hispanics, people of African descent, and native born Americans of all races warmed up with Zumba, a few cheers and the National Anthem. It was moving to see people from all over the world fervently pledging themselves to this nation. Many had endured unimaginable challenges to arrive here, often with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Now, with what turns out to be very little assistance, they are making a new life, contributing to our culture and economy.
It is sad to see well-heeled politicians slandering such people for political gain. Recently, a high official in State Government eye set for the Governor’s office, threatened Decatur for being insufficiently prejudicial against non-native residents who may have a scrape with the law. Decatur follows the Constitution, as does our Sheriff’s office by not detaining those in their custody beyond what’s legally required. I’m glad that DeKalb County is able to partner with CPACS and other organizations serving our non-native population to assist them in realizing their American Dream. I hope that we can regain our historic role as a society constantly rejuvenated by those who risk all to become a part of it.
More recently, I was the only float in the parade that opened the Oak Groove Music Festival. The real star of the parade was the Lakeside High School Viking Marching Band. On a cold and blustery day, this massive musical force abandoned their warmer Sunday pursuits to march down Oak Grove Road to the Vista Grove Shopping Center. People came out of their houses, and little children fell in behind, drawn to the thrumming drums and the urgent horns. When we arrived at the festival site, I thanked the Band; they brought back memories from my days in High School Band. I was glad that these traditions are strong in District 2.
Later the same day, I attended the Open Streets Emory Village festival, judging the Dog Contest, and enjoying the very different perspective one gains of a neighborhood from the middle of a closed street. Attractions ranging from the Imperial Opa Circus to DKPD’s SWAT Team and Fire and Rescue Ladder Truck kept everyone’s mind off the cold, and an amazing array of community groups, locally based businesses, and neighborhood bands provided information and diversions for the afternoon.
From Brookhaven to Decatur, Druid Hills to Oak Grove, our neighborhoods are strong and vital. People who have lived in DeKalb for generations are enjoying the acquaintance of newcomers from all over the country and the world, and many who have been transient put down roots here. In this season of Thanksgiving, I am reminded of all that I am grateful for and want to thank you for letting me serve as your commissioner!”