There are so many native Augustans and transplants who are standing in line waiting to help transform this city from a 20th-century dinosaur into an oasis of opportunities, but are being kept at bay with a viciousness that would discourage anyone whose only motive is to give to the city and not take from it.
How many spirits have been broken by the power grip that is on this city?
There’s no telling. The attitude of “if you don’t like it here, Delta is ready when you are” prevails. Maybe that’s just what’s wrong with Augusta. We have an attitude problem – a bad attitude. Look no further than some of the social commentaries in the media. I only wish the positive expressions are as vocal and full of conviction as the negative ones.
I CANNOT believe that the majority of Augustans are satisfied with the progress, or lack thereof, in the second-largest city in the state, no matter their race or political persuasion. Even if the politicians cannot get together, we ought to do something on our own to send a message: We can’t wait.
Progress is not a race issue, as some will have us believe. Progress is an issue of the mind. Are the minds in Augusta big enough to rise above their petty differences, whether racial or otherwise, and come together for the good of the entire city? Or are they small enough to keep us looking like the Little Rascals, never growing up to the challenges that face us grown-ups?
Cases in point: Augusta blacks still feel that Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz is taking away some of our black history by proposing the closing-off of Laney-Walker Boulevard at R.A Dent Boulevard. In my opinion – and I offer no apologies – this is asinine. We have much bigger fish to fry in that area than to be worried about one block of a street being closed off.
If we are that much in love with Laney-Walker, we ought to invest in it and on it – not with government money, but our own. When that happens, then we will show people how much we love and honor Laney-Walker. So far, we have not shown that kind of love and honor, nor even come close to it.
ON THE OTHER hand, I think a lot of whites are still angry with Dr. Azziz, too. The fact that he came here and changed the medical school’s name from the Medical College of Georgia to Georgia Health Sciences University made some of the old alumni angry and the dead ones turn over in their graves.
Of all of the suggestions made, it was peculiar to me that none of them included the complete present name of the medical university. This is a small-minded way of sending a message to Dr. Azziz: You don’t change us, and you don’t tell us what to do.
If he does survive Augusta, it will either be a miracle or he will have changed like all the rest who are here still holding on to the status quo.
And that’s the way it is.
(The writer is a former Augusta City Council member and a retired labor relations manager from Bechtel Savannah River Inc.)