Revenge of Atlanta’s “horrible neighborhood”

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Clayton, the black neighborhood of the legendary Congressman John Lewis, has been decisive for the electoral advance in Georgia in favor of Biden

In January 2017, one of Donald Trump’s first Twitter insults as president was dedicated to the 292,000 residents of a South Atlanta neighborhood. “It’s horrible,” “it’s falling apart” or “it’s a crime-infested neighborhood” were some of the pearls that the Republican magnate, then newly installed in the White House, directed to Clayton, a mostly black and popular county from the capital of Georgia.

Like a boomerang, the address of that message has now turned around to stamp itself on Trump’s forehead. The “horrible neighborhood” has been the main protagonist in the turnaround in the electoral results in the State. Trump began winning, but the massive Democratic support of the residents of Clayton (84%, the highest in the 150 counties of the state) on Friday precipitated the first advantages of Biden, which with 99% scrutinized, this Sunday caressed the historic first victory Democrat in Georgia in 24 years.

“Trump is paying the price for his words. He has never respected anyone, least of all us, ”Alex Martens, a retired Nigerian school teacher who has lived in Clayton for nearly 20 years, says on his doorstep. Martens lives with her grandson Tony in one of the two-bedroom prefab cottages that are lined up in one of the neighborhood’s residential areas. A lush park surrounds the urbanization, but without public lighting in any of the streets. “It’s quiet although sometimes things happen,” acknowledges Martens. According to county police data, the rate of almost all crimes has been kept in check for the past few years. Except for the rapes, which doubled last year. “It is not an ideal neighborhood but what Trump said was about a fight between politicians. He has never even been here, ”says another neighbor while eating popcorn sitting in the porch of his house.

The fight to which he refers, the origin of that insult, was his confrontation with the legendary Congressman John Lewis, the last representative of the generation of black leaders who promoted the fight for civil rights in the United States in the 1960s. Died in the summer at age 80, Lewis’s last battle was to stand up to Trump. With more than three decades of congressional career representing Atlanta’s fifth district, of which Clayton is a part, Lewis confronted the Republican mogul from the outset. He openly defended that he did not consider him a legitimate president, due to doubts regarding the participation of Russian cyberspies who helped Trump in the 2016 election. And he even refused to participate in the inauguration, dragging with his enormous moral predicament more than about fifty Democratic congressmen, who also boycotted the act. Pressure from the iconic African-American leader triggered Trump’s furious response against his county.

“I love the fact that Clayton County, John Lewis’s territory, can give Biden the victory in Georgia. Right now he must be celebrating it in heaven with one of his famous dances, “former Missouri Senator Claire McKaskill said Friday. Beyond the nod to poetic justice, Georgia, the land of Martin Luther King, is a state with a long tradition in the fight for civil rights. But not only has the aura of the great historical figures weighed in the electoral turnaround. The work of a new generation of African American politicians, primarily women, is beginning to bear fruit.

Lawyer Stacey Abrams, 46, has been battling the electoral bureaucracy for a decade, guaranteeing the rights of the most neglected voters who were often left out due to tricks and formal issues such as typographical errors on the ballot. Abrams, the first black woman to be elected as a candidate for governor, has succeeded in getting more than 800,000 new voters into the system over the past two years. In turn, it unleashed a domino effect in the institutions, which has also raised another African American woman, Keisha Lance, 50, to the seat of the Atlanta city council.

“We have been working in the communities for a long time. Trying to rebuild what Trump has broken in the last four years, ”explains Loretta Pereira, 60, one of the organizers of the Democratic campaign in Clayton, who recognizes that behind the gigantic electoral turnout —Georgia beat its all-time record in these elections — there is a strong component of the punishment vote. “Trump has aroused a lot of rejection. It has given wings to white supremacism. There are even African-American neighbors who voted for him in 2016 and who have now supported a Democratic candidate for the first time. There is even an association in Clayton: ‘Republicans against Trump’.

The African American vote, further spurred by the upswing in the racial justice movement Black Lives Matter In the face of successive episodes of police violence, it has been decisive in putting Biden’s probable victory on track in Georgia, still pending an almost certain recount, given the minimal margin between the two candidates. If finally succeeded, it would become the only Democratic oasis in the middle of the southern black belt. Trump has swept Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana or Arkansas. According to the data that is being sifted from these endless elections, Trump has maintained his quota among African-American voters, as well as other minorities such as Hispanics or Asians. The differential bite has come among white voters, who are two-thirds of the total electorate. In 2016 Trump won the white vote with 20 points over Hillary Clinton. While this time it has only been imposed by 15 on Biden.

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