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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

What About Atlanta, Mr. Trump?

By Donald V. Watkins

©Copyrighted and Published on November 4, 2018

Shortly after the death of South African President Nelson Mandela in 2013, businessman Donald J. Trump reportedly made this statement to his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen: “Name one country run by a black person that’s not a ‘shithole,’ adding, ‘Name one city’.”

Trump has repeated this “shithole” comment since taking office as the 45th President of the United States.

Because of his shameless ignorance of U.S. and world history, I will name one American city for Mr. Trump that we all know is not a “shithole” city – Atlanta. This majority black city has been led by a succession of black mayors since 1974, including Maynard Jackson (1974–1982, 1990–1994), Andrew Young (1982-1990), William “Bill” Campbell (1994-2002), Shirley Franklin (2002-2010), and Kasim Reed (2010-2018).

Time will not permit me to educate Mr. Trump on the successes of other American cities that have been led by black mayors. These include San Francisco under the dynamic leadership of Mayor Willie Brown (1996-2004), New Orleans under the mayoral leadership of the father and son team of Earnest “Dutch” Morial (1978-1986) and Marc Morial (1994-2002), and Chicago under the leadership of Harold Washington (1983-1987). Like Atlanta, all of these cities are world-class cities and all of them experienced remarkable growth under these visionary black mayors.

Is Atlanta a “shithole” city?

It is well known that Mr. Trump will make reckless and racially inflammatory statements about people of color and places where they live without reading anything about them. The background information on Atlanta is readily available on the Internet and is derived from Wikipedia and reliable government sources.

Atlanta was founded as a transportation hub at the intersection of two railroad lines in 1837. After being mostly burned to the ground during the American Civil War, the city rose from its ashes to become a national center of commerce and the unofficial capital of the "New South." During the 1950s and 1960s, Atlanta became a major organizing center of the civil rights movement, with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and many other locals playing major roles in the movement's leadership. In the decades following, the city earned a reputation as "too busy to hate" for the relatively progressive views of its citizens and leaders compared to other cities in the "Deep South."


During the modern era, Atlanta has attained international prominence as a major air transportation hub, with Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport serving as the world's busiest airport by passenger traffic since 1998. The Airport, which is operated by the city’s Department of Aviation, is Georgia’s largest employer, with more than 63,000 airline, ground transportation, concessionaire, security, federal government, City of Atlanta and Airport tenant employees.

For 12 consecutive years, the Air Transport Research Society has recognized the Airport for its excellence in efficiency. In 2015, Hartsfield-Jackson was named the most efficient airport in the world.

The Airport produces $31 billion in annual revenues and produces an economic impact of over $64 billion a year in the metro-Atlanta area.

Atlanta was selected as the site for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games during Bill Campbell’s tenure as mayor. As a national center for cinema and television production, Atlanta also plays a significant role in the entertainment industry.

Atlanta is rated as a "beta (+)" world city that exerts a moderate impact on global commerce, finance, research, technology, education, media, art, and entertainment. It ranks in the top twenty among world cities and 10th in the nation with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $385 billion.

Atlanta is home to professional franchises for four major team sports: the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball, the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association, the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League, and Atlanta United FC of Major League Soccer. Atlanta has been the host city for various international, professional and collegiate sporting events, including Super Bowl XXVIII in 1994 and Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000. It will host the Super Bowl again in 2019. In 2001 and 2011, Atlanta hosted the PGA Championship, one of the four major championships in men's professional golf. In professional ice hockey, the city hosted the 56th NHL All-Star Game in 2008. The city has hosted the NCAA Final Four Men's Basketball Championship four times, most recently in 2013. In college football, Atlanta hosts the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, the SEC Championship Game, and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. In January of 2018, Atlanta hosted the college football national championship game.

Given Atlanta’s staggering record of growth and achievement under the leadership of black mayors, what else can Atlanta do to escape Mr. Trump’s “shithole” designation?

Hopelessly Trapped in a Perpetual State of Ignorance and Bigotry

It is probably too late to educate Donald Trump on the encyclopedia of positive achievements by people of color in America and around the world. He is a dyed in the wool bigot who tweets racist statements instead of reading books and briefing papers for knowledge and enlightenment.

If I had more time and energy, I would also educate Mr. Trump on Namibia, an ultra modern Southwest African nation with a State House, Supreme Court, and Presidential complex that rivals those of Western nations. This former German colony is rich in minerals and is governed with a level of efficiency, productivity, accountability, and transparency that could easily serve as the standard of excellence for the Western world. Yet, Mr. Trump has labeled Namibia as a “shithole” country.

I would also educate Mr. Trump on Nigeria, Africa’s largest country with a population of 191 million people.  Nigeria received its independence from Great Britain in 1960 and has been a stable, progressive democracy in Africa since that time.  The country has its own stock exchange, which also has dual listings with the prestigious London Stock Exchange.  Nigeria has numerous oil, gas, manufacturing, and exporting companies that have produced more than 50 black billionaires in the private and public sectors.  America only has 3 black billionaires (i.e., Robert Smith, Oprah Winfrey, and Michael Jordan) that have been recognized by Forbes Magazine in 2018.

While Mr. Trump was constructing buildings in Manhattan during the past 30 years, Nigeria was busy building a new national capital city named Abuja. Today, Abuja is a planned, ultra-modern metropolitan city with an estimated population of 2,918,518 million residents. The building of Abuja was the greatest construction project since the erection of the great pyramids in Egypt thousands of years ago.

Mr. Trump, whose private companies have filed bankruptcy proceedings six times, will often talk in demeaning terms about Nigerian “scams.” However, we must always be mindful that it was Wall Street’s out-of-control greed and engrained corruption during the 2000s that caused the Global Recession of 2008, which, in turn, cost Americans $16 trillion in lost wealth.

Was Bernie Madoff a Nigerian, Mr. Trump? Of course not; he was a New York friend of yours and a Wall Street icon.

While sensible readers would probably appreciate these lessons in American and international history, it is clear that Mr. Trump is hopelessly trapped in a perpetual state of ignorance and bigotry.

PHOTO: A scenic view from the lake in Atlanta's 189-acre Piedmont Park. Atlanta is a city that is "too busy to hate."

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