Once a homogenous community, Clarkston, Georgia, just 20 miles outside Atlanta, is now considered “the most diverse square mile in America” according to The New York Times. How did this happen? What does it mean for the refugees who have resettled there and the agencies that serve them?
How does this massive resettlement impact the metro Atlanta area?
In an article posted on Humanity in Action, Jasmine Burton explores the complicated realities of resettling refugees in the American South. An excerpt from the article is below:
Clarkston once was the epitome of historic Southern tradition with white picket fences, large Baptist choirs, and a predominantly homogenous population. However, in the 1980s, the refugee resettlement programs and the US State Department determined that Clarkston was a place that was well suited for a diverse group of displaced peoples since the cost of living was low and public transportation was relatively accessible. The 2000s marked the time when this quaint town began seeing massive demographic transformation as Clarkston High School boasted students from over 50 countries, the local mosque housed 800 worshippers, and an estimated half of the population was originally from outside of the United States. “This influx of people from all over the world has transformed Clarkston from a sleepy, unassuming Southern city to one of the most diverse communities in the United States. Clarkston’s kaleidoscopic community has become a leading example of the joys and frustrations facing our rapidly diversifying nation.”
‘Refugee’ is a status held by a severely marginalized and often times stigmatized group of people who are often times protected and aided by refugee resettlement agencies that are funded by philanthropies and that inspire community-led social enterprises in order to move past this status to reclaim their sense of humanity… the resettlement agencies that support refugees embody this quote by Kofi A. Annan, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from Ghana, “I urge you to celebrate the extraordinary courage and contributions of refugees past and present.”
The full article is available here.