At the corner of Centennial Olympic Park Drive and Marietta Street in Downtown is a 22-acre greenspace marking the arrival of the 1996 Olympics. Over two decades later, the very location that once drew crowds in revelry was now the site of tension and disbelief as hundreds gathered in protest of the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court. The demonstrators spanned a wide range of ages, and many wore green to symbolize their support of reproductive rights.
The stakes for Black people wanting accessible and safe abortions in Georgia were always high. Black women in Georgia accounted for 65% of statewide abortions in 2019. For many residents in the Southeast, the Peach State has been a major hub for obtaining abortions, with 15 clinics offering the services statewide, according to the most recent data.
As the hundreds of protesters embarked on their mile-long march toward the Gold Dome, 52 days after the initial leak, Capital B Atlanta spoke with them every step of the way. They shared personal stories, called on lawmakers to take action, and urged that more people get involved in the voting process.
Here’s what they had to say.
Porsche Miller, 42, national civil rights activist
“We are in danger and watching humanity crumble right before our eyes. Right now, we are fighting for our lives and the most powerful weapon we have right now is voting. No matter how woke you are, no matter what your conspiracy is, do something about it and stop standing on the sidelines. It’s time for Black people to stop fighting each other and fight the people.”
Lynne Anderson, 67, contractor
“I feel sorry for young Black women, young Black people in America. One of my solutions is asking all Black people to get a passport because who knows which way this is going. You may not want to wait that long, so please give yourself options. Don’t be in the position where you cannot leave if it becomes necessary. This place [United States] is actively killing the Black body after producing and reproducing, without choice, as far back as slavery.”
Cookie Miller, 33, yoga instructor
“People are saying they don’t want to go back — going back for us means going back to being the ‘mammies,’ the ‘incubators,’ the people who already don’t have the systems in place to take care of their own kids and, then, not having the choice at all in terms of their own health care. We are last in line for the health we receive in all capacities. We are last in line for the education of our children. We are last in line for our kids having better opportunities, so when you are faced with this kind of thing, where we can’t even own our bodies and forcibly having to raise children in this systemically oppressive system, it’s going to weigh heavily on Black women.”
Ebony (last name withheld)
“I didn’t have access to an abortion here in Georgia because I was considered a late-term pregnancy, so I had to drive to Durham, North Carolina, just to terminate my pregnancy. I didn’t have to pay for it because an organization handled the costs for me. My abortion doctor is a hero. He gave me the care I needed and it saved my life. It wasn’t this horrific narrative. It was simple and my decision. If you want an abortion, you should have that right. This is what happens when people aren’t in the streets, protesting and holding lawmakers accountable.”
Leslie Wood, 60, surgical assistant
“Planned Parenthood helped me out a lot as a young teenager. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know what I would have done. I think it’s a good opportunity as well for young women to go somewhere if they don’t feel safe. If they don’t have that, we’re going to have a lot of young girls going to unsafe environments to have abortions. Are we going back to the 1960s where Black people couldn’t drink out of a regular water fountain? Because that’s what this is doing — turning the clocks back. We are human beings, we’re not different from anyone else.”
Brittany Brown, 23, law student
“The first desire is to throw away the government, but I don’t think that’s necessarily possible. What we have to do is make sure that we are doing the steps we need to make sure this doesn’t go any further. We need to get out there and vote, make sure we are talking to our senators and congressmen and that we are being knowledgeable about our decisions when we get into the voter’s box because that’s going to be ultimately what makes that change.”
Nyaire Latimer, 20, cybersecurity analyst/professional artist
“I’m not afraid to share that I am on birth control, and I took that initiative to protect myself because we should have undoctrined access to it. We shouldn’t have to go through a man, a government, a financial entity — no barrier of any sort to get it. It’s something that should be given to us as a human right. The decision of choice is so much bigger than just women and men. Get off your phone, get in real life and start voting. It’s time to elect people who are going to make decisions that align with the future that you want.”