>Hope for Atlanta

>I was looking at my blog and realized that I never wrote about an extremely important moment in my life that occurred a few weeks ago. I don’t know how it’s possible I didn’t post about this experience, but it’s clear that I did not and I want to extend my apologies for leaving many of you in the dark. Let me share with you my experience….

On April 7, 2010 I attended an historic event that will change the pulse of Atlanta, Georgia hopefully forever! I never got the privilege to experience and participate in the Civil Rights Movement, but this day (and future days to come) I had the pleasure of taking part in the Silver Rights Movement.

April 7th Operation HOPE, led by their Founder, Chairman and CEO, John Hope Bryant, partnered with Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church to publicly announce their plans to erect a new multi-million dollar flagship Operation HOPE Financial Literacy Empowerment Center within the Martin Luther King, Sr. Community Resource Complex on the new Ebenezer church grounds.

On this day I witnessed a Shovel Ceremony where I sat by community leaders, Atlanta residents, and representatives from SunTrust and Wells Fargo/Wachovia (who have eagerly joined this HOPE Center partnership), as we listened to inspirational words from some wonderful people such as Martin Luther King III, Ambassador Andrew Young, Ebenezer’s Senior Pastor Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, and FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair.

We also had the pleasure of hearing from CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, Steve Bartlett; Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, Inc., Atlanta’s District 2 Councilmember, Kwanza Hall; Isaac Newton Farris, the Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff of The King Center; C.T. Hill, Corporate Executive VP, SunTrust Banks, Inc., and Candy Moore, Senior VP, Southeast Community Development Manager for Wachovia (Wells Fargo Company).

Of course the day would not be complete without remarks and introductions from John Hope Bryant who energized the speakers and attendees with his passion and desire to see Atlanta and every community struggling to survive, restored to greatness.

The “HOPE Center” will bring Metro Atlanta residents a place to go for one-stop shopping, gaining access to mainstream bank services- helping to remove the “shackles” as check-cashing and payday loan “slaves”, so that they can finally become bank account holders.

The HOPE Center will bring Atlanta the tools needed to gain true financial literacy so that the mistakes of their past are overwritten while empowering them to not make the same mistakes or worse in their future.
Metro Atlanta residents will have hands-on education in economics and financial case management, an understanding and ability to gain wealth through small business ownership and home ownership, and a chance to heal, grow, and embrace a sense of dignity and pride within their neighborhoods and for their surrounding communities.

The HOPE Center will bring Atlanta back to being the highly regarded “Black Wall Street” and live up to the hopes and dreams of the late Martin Luther King, Sr and his son, the late Martin Luther King, Jr. Who wouldn’t be excited at that vision and reality?

Following the speeches at the shovel ceremony, each guest speaker lined up in front of the area where I was seated, and as they placed their construction hard hats on their heads, those of us who also were given hard hats did the same. Then they immediately grabbed their inscribed shovels and dug into the soil… of the future site of the HOPE Center…as the rest of us snapped pictures, applauded, and celebrated.

It was forecasted to rain that day…no rain…not that day. The clouds held back so that we could witness history in the making. So we could witness and take part in a moment in the Silver Rights Movement. I’m so grateful that I was able to be there firsthand!

Thank you for the invitation, the experience I can share with generations, and thank you for the hard hat…I’m looking at it now!

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.