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A woman holds up a sign at a protest organized by the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement on Apr. 5, 2019 in downtown Athens, Georgia. The event was organized to protest discrimination and racism in the Athens-Clarke County area. (Photo/Julian Alexander)

UGA Alpha Phi Alpha chapter celebrated 50th anniversary

The oldest black student organization on UGA’s campus celebrated its 50th anniversary from April 4-7. The celebration of the Zeta Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, established in 1969, included several social events, including an archives ceremony in the Special Collections Library, a formal gala at the Classic Center and a cookout in the Myers Quad.

Zeta Pi’s alumni network includes a prominent number of African-American firsts — the first black president and vice president of SGA, editor of The Red & Black, homecoming king and ROTC pilot.

In addition to serving as mentors for the Boys & Girls Club, volunteering at homeless shelters and running a food truck at Hill Baptist Church every second Saturday of the month, the chapter sponsors the annual Miss Black & Gold Scholarship Pageant, as well as a “stepping and strolling” competition for other historically black Greek chapters.

The chapter’s biggest and most high-profile event of the year is a pajama party that attracts nearly 3,000 students from all over the southeast every spring, with a portion of the ticket sales from the party donated to March of Dimes.

Downtown protest held in response to allegations of bar discrimination

Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, Athens For Everyone and the Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition coordinated a march in downtown Athens on April 5 in response to a surge in reports of discrimination at bars downtown, particularly for Hedges On Broad.

One of the primary goals of the march was to bring attention to the alcohol-licensing ordinance passed by Athens Clarke-County commissioners in 2016, which created a formal filing process for discrimination complaints against bars. Only two complaints have been filed with the ACC Attorney’s Office since the commissioners passed the ordinance in 2016, according to ACC Public Information Officer Jeff Montgomery.

The protest began in front of ACC City Hall and shortly thereafter moved to Hedges On Broad, where the crowd stalled in front of the bar responsible for upwards of 50 complaints made to AADM. The march then reached the Arch, where protesters gathered to hear speakers address the crowd.

“Below Baldwin” documentary premiered at Morton Theatre

“Below Baldwin,” a documentary about the remains the university discovered during the 2015 expansion project of Baldwin Hall, screened for the first time on March 31. Athens residents, UGA students and UGA faculty packed the historic Morton Theatre for the film’s premiere. The remains are believed to primarily be those of slaves buried before the construction of Baldwin Hall.

In the documentary, notable community members such as Clarke County NAACP President Alvin Sheats expressed their grievances with UGA’s handling of the situation.

Among these grievances is the fact that the 18-person Baldwin Hall Memorial Advisory Task Force did not include any of the outspoken Athens African American residents featured in the documentary, who said the remains may be those of their ancestors. UGA also did not allow community members to view the reinterment.

The documentary also alleges faculty who have attempted to research slavery at UGA were pressured to alter their research goals. A group of UGA professors sought to create a center on slavery, but the administration denied this because it is not relevant to the research at Baldwin Hall and the center would be beyond the scope of resources available, according to the documentary.

After the screening of the documentary, panelists including Athens-Clarke County District 2 Commissioner Mariah Parker discussed questions around the issue of UGA’s history of slavery.

Chainsaw artist transformed Athens pecan tree

What was once a twisting pecan tree in front of a house on Oglethorpe Avenue has now been transformed into a shining wood carving of four bears coming out of the trunk.

It’s the work of Chris Lantz, a chainsaw artist who worked on the piece for 11 days — his longest project in the 10 years he’s been professionally doing the art.

The idea to create this carving came because the pecan tree in front of the Oglethorpe house had branches that extending too far out over the house, homeowner Fred Moorman said.

Moorman saw carved totem poles in front of a friend’s shop and was interested in getting a tree carved himself. Lantz’s chainsaw art was recommended to him, so instead of chopping the tree, Moorman decided to repurpose it.

Lantz specializes in carving animals, with birds being his favorite. Lantz was called to the practice before he was born. After his dad and two uncles started to go to church, they met a man who said he was moved by God to teach them how to carve. His entire life, Lantz watched them carve and practiced. Lantz has placed in multiple competitions across the country.

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