Axios Atlanta

Picture of the Atlanta skyline.

It's week two of February. Let's get at it, team!

🌥 Today's weather: Mostly cloudy with a high of 52. But you should still wear sunscreen!

🛷 Situational awareness: Atlantan Olympic bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor was released from COVID quarantine in Beijing during the weekend. She's now clear to compete in her fourth Olympics.

Today's newsletter is 838 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: 🎓 Chancellor Sonny Perdue?

Sonny and David Perdue laughing and shaking hands

Former Gov. Sonny Perdue (left) and his cousin, former Sen. David Perdue. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

It seems counterintuitive: Brian Kemp appears to have paved the way for his opponent David Perdue's cousin, former Gov. Sonny Perdue, to be named chancellor of the University System of Georgia.

Why it matters: The person running the University System of Georgia oversees 26 public colleges and universities, more than 341,000 students and a budget of nearly $10 billion.

What's happening: Kemp, who appoints the Board of Regents that oversees the system, has replaced regents skeptical of Perdue's nomination with four who could be more supportive.

  • Perdue, also a former U.S. agriculture commissioner, told the paper last summer he's “always been interested in higher education" and wanted to bring conservative values to the system.

Yes, but: The idea sparked student protests. SACS, the university system's accrediting agency, sent a letter to the regents warning about the risk of political interference in the chancellor search.

The intrigue: A Kemp ally who agreed to speak anonymously said Perdue is “uniquely qualified” to run a large organization and that Perdue aligns with the governor on keeping a tight budget and streamlining the system's operations.

  • Of note: Sonny Perdue appointed Kemp to the role of Georgia secretary of state in 2010 and lobbied then-President Donald Trump to endorse Kemp in 2018.

A source close to Kemp and Sonny Perdue tells Axios that the former governor is not actually supportive of his cousin's campaign.

What he’s saying: David Perdue tells Axios his cousin “is in an awkward position” because of the chancellorship search. “But I’ve stayed out of that, and I think he’s staying out of my little dog fight here."

Read the full story.

2. ✊🏿 Dorothy Bolden's fair wage fight

A vivid colorful mural of Dorothy Bolden, a Black domestic worker and labor organizer, surrounded by a sun and MARTA bus

Artists painted four murals, including this piece by Fabian Williams in Adair Park, honoring Bolden. Photo: Thomas Wheatley/Axios

Throughout February, Axios Atlanta is profiling lesser-known Black Atlantans who fought for civil and human rights.

  • Today, we focus on Dorothy Bolden, who fought for fair wages and better protections for her fellow domestic workers in Atlanta.

Flashback: In the 1960s, the native Atlantan organized other Black domestic workers in Atlanta at bus stops and during long rides home after even longer days at work. Watching Rosa Parks' famous arrest inspired Bolden, and she knew the role transit could play in activism and organizing.

  • Bolden, who became a domestic worker at age 9, lived near Martin Luther King Jr. in Vine City and asked for his help. He urged her to organize the nannies, housekeepers and caregivers to demand better protections, pay and services.

In 1968, she created the National Domestic Workers Union of America, which advocated for better working conditions and taught women how to negotiate with employers for better pay and hours. Members were required to register to vote. 

  • Atlanta mayors sought Bolden's support and counsel, and she advised Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

The (literal) big picture: This past October, the Georgia chapter of the National Domestic Workers Alliance commissioned four murals throughout the city honoring Bolden, who died in 2005. An art installation unveiled last year includes bronze sculptures of Bolden, Hosea Williams, Rita Samuels and W.A. Scott sitting on benches. 

Read the full story.

3. 🏛️ Ahmaud Arbery's murderers back in court

Travis and Gregory McMichael arrive in court in suits.

Travis (left) and Gregory McMichael in November. Photo: Stephen B. Morton-Pool/Getty Images

The three white men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man shot while jogging down a coastal Georgia street, are going to trial again.

The Department of Justice is prosecuting the men for federal hate crimes and attempted kidnapping. Jury selection for that trial in federal court begins today in Brunswick.

Why it matters: While prosecutors' arguments in the state murder trial largely left out the issue of race, it is likely to take center stage at this federal trial.

  • Of note: Georgia did not have a state-level hate crimes statute at the time of Arbery's murder, but the state has since passed a hate crimes law in Arbery's name.

Read the full story.

Fresh job openings around town

🍃 Turn over a new leaf with our Job Board.

  1. Content Strategist Manager at Cox Automotive.
  2. Head of Communications at Capital on Tap.
  3. Recruiting Specialist at The Coca Cola Company.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

4. Aunt Fanny's Cabin back on the market

The former Aunt Fanny's Cabin

The former Aunt Fanny's Cabin has been condemned. Photo: Kristal Dixon/Axios

Anyone who wants to take a cabin that housed a controversial restaurant off the city of Smyrna's hands now has about six weeks to make their case.

Driving the news: The city reopened the process to collect bids to sell Aunt Fanny's Cabin to prospective buyers. The cabin was home to a restaurant that used racist stereotypes to market its business.

  • The new deadline is 10am March 16.

Why it matters: A task force appointed by Mayor Derek Norton recommended that Smyrna sell the structure and remove it from city-owned property on Atlanta Road.

Days before the original deadline approached to submit bids, a group of residents last week called on Smyrna to preserve the cabin in honor of Fanny Williams. Aunt Fanny's was named after Williams, a servant of the family that owned the restaurant.

Go deeper: Read Axios' reporting for more about the history of Aunt Fanny's Cabin.

5. 🏠 Five Points: Landowner lawsuit

Mural reading welcome to Little Five Points

Photo: Emma Hurt/Axios

  • Former President Jimmy Carter questioned the legitimacy of Trump's 2016 election. (Politico)
  • A state senate committee held a hearing on legalizing recreational marijuana. (Capitol Beat)
  • Atlanta landowners won a lawsuit after parts of their backyards were seized for the BeltLine. (WABE)
  • Cobb County is launching an "awareness campaign" about the multiple cityhood movements happening within its boundaries. (MDJ)
  • Meet some of the Republicans running against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. (WSB)

🧠 Axios recently announced our inaugural What's Next Summit on April 5.

  • Register here to attend virtual livestream sessions and join discussions on trends that will revolutionize our future.