The Atlanta Music Festival (“AMF”) seeks to build a more just and equitable world through mutual understanding and the arts. During this extraordinary time of triple crises– pandemic, economic upheaval, and racial unrest—the AMF draws attention to an often-overlooked aspect of social justice and equality, the environment. In a week-long series of events broadcast on YouTube, January 25-30, 2021, the AMF will spotlight the importance of the environment in achieving racial and social justice by presenting a series of online performances, interviews and lectures culminating with a concert given by opera star Morris Robinson and the Meridian Chorale. The concert will highlight the concert music and poetry of African Americans. Honorary Chairs are Ambassador Andrew and Mrs. Carolyn Young and Reverend Gerald and Mrs. Muriel Durley. Please return to this website for a link to the Atlanta Music Festival videos on January 25, 2021.
This year’s AMF will focus on Proctor Creek, a stream running through the very heart of Atlanta. The history of the creek, its overflows of raw sewage in Atlanta neighborhoods, and the work of the organizations that have attempted to deliver justice to its watershed tell us much about who we are as a city. Set forth in a series of mind and heart opening performances and engagements, the Proctor Creek story will expand the boundaries of our understanding of social justice and the transformative power of the arts.
Named in the nineteenth century for George Proctor, a Cherokee Indian known for having intervened to save two Creek Indians from execution, Proctor Creek’s headwaters are in downtown Atlanta. But they have long been paved over with parking lots and skyscrapers. Those waters, polluted at their inception by urban development, stormwater runoff and raw sewage run for over eight miles northwest to the Chattahoochee River. The neighborhoods it traverses housed civil rights legends and famous Atlantans like Martin Luther King, Jr, W.E.B Dubois, and Maynard Jackson and is the home of Washington Park. Built in 1919, it is the first public park in Atlanta that welcomed African Americans. At Proctor Creek’s confluence with the Chattahoochee, the infamous Chattahoochee Brick Factory once stood where horrific acts of brutality were committed against African-Americans ensnared in the system of convict labor during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Although many organizations, government groups and community activists have worked for decades to improve the quality of the creek and its surroundings, there is still much work to be done.
Within the Proctor Creek watershed is Booker T. Washington High School that until 1947 was the only public African-American high school in Atlanta. In the first of the 2021 Atlanta Music Festival’s broadcasts, on November 5, 2020, students of that high school took part in an event celebrating the beauty of this stream with music and visual art while learning about the environmental challenges that confront this urban waterway. Many thanks to Booker T. Washington High School teachers, Ms. Chanel Cobey and Ms. Sachi Rome, Principal Angela Coaxum Young, Darryl Haddock of the Westside Atlanta Watershed Alliance, violist Yinzi Kong of the Vega String Quartet, plein air painter Emily Hirn, participating high school students and volunteers Barbara Coble, Katherine Mitchell, Martha Pearson, Valerin Lopez, Meadow Overstreet, Sally Sears, Lauren Holtkamp Sterling, and Jason Yu with the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.
Booker T. Washington High School Students creating art at Proctor Creek
Emily Hirn, plein air painter Yinzi Kong, violist, Vega String Quartet
Students and their completed works at Proctor Creek