The Bitter Southerner: "Killer Mike's More Perfect Union" by Christina Banks

Killer Mike by Brinson + Banks

Writing in The Bitter Southerner, Christina Lee looks at why Atlanta legend Killer Mike is so successful and why he continues to surprise and confound:

But as Mike has discovered, being what he calls a “connector” is tougher than ever to actually put into practice, especially when America’s political and cultural divides have deepened.

“I wish to be someone from the westside of Atlanta who keeps his community connected to hope and opportunity, and I don’t mean that in an abstract, vague way,” he says. “There’s a real hope in growing up as a Black person in America and seeing Black success. And there’s a real hope in seeing Black people and white people cooperate.”

Mike is invoking the storied “Atlanta Way,” an unwritten and informal code of conduct between Black activists and white business leaders that dates back to the Civil Rights Movement. Proponents of the Atlanta Way credit it with achieving gradual but steady reforms by putting business interests and entrepreneurship at the forefront of the march toward racial equality. But in the decades since its inception, the Atlanta Way has faced criticism, most recently from Black Lives Matter activists, for incremental and moderate reforms that actually slowed progress.

Still, Killer Mike remains a firm believer in the Atlanta Way. It’s a position that stands out at a time when increasing majorities of Americans — Democrats in particular — find it “stressful and frustrating” to discuss politics with those of opposing beliefs, according to the Pew Research Center.

Full article here, with photographs by Brinson + Banks.