Education, Local

Some Spelman Students Say Atlanta Mayor Shouldn’t Address Graduates

The students at the city's historically black women's college said they believe Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is in favor of gentrification.
The students at the city's historically black women's college said they believe Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is in favor of gentrification.
Credit Amy Harris/ / Invision/AP
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Update at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday

Some students at Spelman College aren’t happy about the selection of Atlanta’s black female mayor as this year’s commencement speaker.

The students at the city’s historically black women’s college say they believe Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is in favor of gentrification, they told WSB-TV. Pricing poor people out of available housing “doesn’t help the black people rise up,” Spelman student Alexi Dickerson said.

“She’s a very good role model, but that doesn’t mean that she should be a commencement speaker,” Dickerson said.

The mayor has her supporters, too: Student Kiersten Mills considers her a role model, part of the “black girl magic” phenomenon when she was elected.

“The mayor is honored to deliver the commencement address and equally proud that the legacy of student engagement and activism remains vibrant at Spelman College,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.

Mills said those who want another speaker aren’t considering the big picture.

“They are focused on who it is and their name, and not their journey to where they are,” she said.

Bottoms is Atlanta’s only mayor to have served in all three branches of government, Spelman said in announcing her as its commencement speaker. She has been a judge and City Council member before she was elected mayor.

“Atlanta is fortunate to have such a dynamic leader as Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who has had a tremendous impact on the city, in particular on the Westside, where Spelman is located,” Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell said in the announcement.

The commencement is set for May 19 at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta.