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Atlanta is an infinite entendre. The city and its name changes or carries several different meanings depending on who’s speaking.It’s a major American city. It’s the unofficial capital of the South. It’s where Coca-Cola was created. It’s “mecca” for Black folks. It’s where Martin Luther King, Jr. was born. It’s where OutKast is from. It has the world’s busiest airport. It’s the “Motown Of The South.” It’s where Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta is based. It’s the last American city to host the Olympic games.

Ah, the 1996 Olympics. Depending on who you ask in “the A” [FYI: Only people who are trying to sound or look cool actually still call it “the ATL”], 1996 was the year that “sh*t changed.”

Atlanta virtually pushed itself out to make space for the rest of the world to come and feel comfortable. Communities were swept away; new buildings took their place. People who didn’t have the right skin complexion for billboards and pamphlets were herded out; people who had the right color complexion [skin wise and pocket wise] were ushered in. Some of the world chose to stay and settle in while the rest of the world left and didn’t leave much behind outside of trash to clean up.

Meanwhile, native Atlantans, especially Blacks were left with questions. For as much as they’d contributed to the city’s image via music [Cameo, Gladys Knight, LaFace Records, SoSo Def Records, Dallas Austin], politics [Andrew Young, Maynard Jackson] and sports [the early-90s Atlanta Braves teams, Deion Sanders, Dominique Wilkins], were they truly viewed as citizens, or just visitors like the people who came and went with the Olympics?

20 years later, Atlanta is undergoing another “sh*t changed” moment with more and more people moving in. For many, the city that was long thought of to be a Black man’s heaven has become somewhat of a Black man’s purgatory; stuck in a space where the “heaven” that was supposedly created for them to flourish is usually only talked about, and the “hell” that had been hidden so well for so long can be seen through their home or car window.

Photo: FX

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