South Fulton District 1 candidate Ehimen “E” Inegbedion might not have much political experience, but he is no stranger to democracy. Inegbedion’s father was instrumental in helping to establish democracy in Nigeria. His father came to the United States in 1980 with the goals of finishing his degree in political science and returning to Nigeria. During this time, Nigeria was going back and forth between military rules and installing democracy. Watching the process peaked young Inegbedion’s interest.
Inegbedion’s father would have him, and his siblings write his speeches and type his documents, all consisting of ideas and ideology on how democracy was going to remain in Nigeria. His father gave Inegbedion his first opportunity to be involved and engage in the world of politics. Inegbedion was fortunate enough to sit down with senators, governors, and the guy who eventually became president of Nigeria. They would ask him his thoughts and opinions, ultimately shaping him into the person he is today. His entire outlook on life changed. With the city of South Fulton, he saw an opportunity to help create a brand that reflects the heart of their residents, giving them a voice.
Despite his parents being Nigerian, Inegbedion was born and raised in South West Atlanta. He reflects on the memories of when he was in school. There had a lot of after school activities to keep them out of trouble. Inegbedion attended the YMCA on Campbellton Rd after school once he finished his homework. He and his friends would play ball together. Despite the many passing years, they remain good friends.
At the time, Inegbedion did not understand what they were doing. In his mind, they were just coming to engage with each other, have fun, and play basketball. However, all of them have very successful lives today. When comparing his childhood to today’s youth, Inegbedion noticed they did not have the same type of experience he had that kept his friends and him out of trouble.
“Keeping all of them honest. Keeping everybody engaged. The reason why crime has gone up is that most of the kids have not been engaging. No one has taken the opportunity to sit down and talk to them. Share ideas and listen to their concerns,” Inegbedion said.
The older guys are not conversing with the young folks to keep them on track, in addition to playing ball with them. There is no guidance. Inegbedion wants South Fulton to get back to having those programs and activities for youth. With the influx of people that came to Atlanta in the late 90s, a lot of the community engagement had decreased.
“You had a family member or a friend of a family member that live somewhere. Everybody knew everybody, no matter where you went. Moreover, things changed. The city changed. It has changed for the better, but we also had an involvement with one another. We all knew each other. We all could engage with one another. So you were not afraid to go anywhere. You were not afraid to leave your house door unlocked,” Inegbedion said.
Inegbedion believes a lack of community involvement created many problems for South Fulton communities. His platform focuses on the economic development, quality education and public safety, three interconnectedness areas that affect the community. Education is the key to success, and creating a safe environment for youth to learn will increase the standard of living.
Parents and police are responsible for community policing. To decrease situations like police brutality, as a community, Inegbedion stress we have to police one another. Increasing police presence will only reduce opportunity crimes; it is the community responsibility to have a conversation with the individuals. Mentor them. The community has to do their part in taking care of the ones who are not fortunate to take care of themselves. Taking heed to the African proverb, it takes a village to raise a child; this is Inegbedion’s vision for South Fulton.
The obligation to create a generational growth and wealth class for the new city-inspired Inegbedion to run for office. His goal is to build a city conducive for Blacks and all residents of South Fulton. The majority of South Fulton residents are Black. Inegbedion believes, with proper planning and a steady foundation, the city of South Fulton has the potential to be the Black Mecca, especially in relations to black businesses. There has not been a Black Mecca for blacks since the bombing of “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a community that saw quick economic gains from the oil boom in the 1900s.
“Black Wall Street” Massacre
Blacks established banks, hotels, cafe, movie theaters, and more, just a few of the many entrepreneurial opportunities they had in the Greenwood community. In 1921, forty square blocks of Black homes destroyed, multiple businesses burned to the ground including hospitals, schools, and churches. Deputies killed more than 300 hundred Blacks while the National Guard arrested and detained close to 6,000 Blacks. Hate and envy left many Blacks homeless or living in tents.
Frustrated, Inegbedion wants to know why we have not had another community to emerge like Greenwood.“My frustration is because this should have happened years ago. It should have never gotten to this point. However, nevertheless, we are here,” Inegbedion said.
Inegbedion plans to build the Black Mecca for the city of South Fulton, with the primary base of the banking finance business district established on Cascade Rd. “Cascade road was like the Mecca of Black America. Moreover, we need a Black Wall Street. Having one in a historical place such as Cascade, that is gold. I mean it is gold,”
Confused as to why the idea has was not addressed yet when most of Atlanta mayors live on or off of Cascade Rd, Inegbedion wants to make his vision the city’s brand. He knows his district consists of working professionals, career professionals, independent business and business owners. By declaring his district as the “Banking Finance Business District” of the city of South Fulton, Inegbedion wants to bring in private equity, hedge funds, and commercial and retail banking.
According to Inegbedion, the world is changing. The millennials do not look at a business the way it like the past. The idea of staying at a company or corporation for 30 plus years to maintain a career is just not appealing. People do not want to live in the suburbs or far away from their jobs where they will have to commute. Instead, they would prefer for everything to be right in their backyards. The residents are not a footnote in this equation. They are the heart of the city. As a representative of the people, it is imperative that their city council understand their needs.
Inegbedion wants the younger generation to take the mantle when branding the city of South Fulton. The city has the potential for millennials expansion with new businesses, community involvement, and real estate. Conversations like “hey, my plans on developing this area, creating this district and bringing in these resources and opportunities” are needed when looking to expand services and bring new businesses, creating a new class of wealth. If you are not engaging in those types of conversation; then, what are you doing as a people’s representative?
If elected, Inegbedion wants to have an open dialogue with South Fulton residents. One of the few tactics he will incorporate to ensure a transparent government. Although President Donald Trump is not the typical politician to follow, him using Twitter as a way to keep citizens inform on the process of government business to create a transparent government was a smart move. Now, people can see the inner workings of the government they would not usually see with a different President. Along with tweeting, Inegbedion wants to incorporate Facebook Live interaction for town hall meetings, making them accessible for everyone who was not able to attend in person.
As far as the scandal at city hall, the story is still being unfolded. However, if the allegations are true, Inegbedion feels as if it is a very unfortunate situation. Many great leaders and successful businesses have come out of Atlanta. For him, the scandal would be like a punch in the face. “If a brother does a crime, the entire Black community has to hold their breath. Stigma affects us and affects our future generation.”
Inegbedion knows he is the man for the job. Because he is a millennial, he is young enough to be around for the long haul. He envisions the new city of South Fulton to be a community full of engagement. Providing kids with a vision of what their future can look like by bringing white-collar jobs to the city. He also requires help from PTA, students, teachers and other South Fulton residents to start establishing standards, starting at home.
“We do not have much time on our side. Most of our issues are our problems. Focus on our own communities and rebuilding our own homes,” Inegbedion stated.
Getting back to the basics the millennial way, Inegbedion wants to spark the conversation on how do we make technology work for us when incorporating new ideas for the city and residents. As a resident, what do you want your city to become? Inegbedion is holding both the public and the officials responsible. It is time to for the residents in the community to step up. Put pressure on the politicians. If Inegbedion is wrong, he wants the residence to hold him accountable. He has an open door policy and welcomes residents to chat with him. Remember, the government is a representation of the people, not the other way around.