SONG Atlanta promotes diverse activism

Southerners on New Ground, also known as SONG, is a southern organization of a different kind.

To learn more about SONG Atlanta, visit their website.

SONG is a queer liberation organization, whose mission is to connect LGBTQ+ people in the south to address social justice issues. Their website states that their mission is “building a political home across race, class, culture, gender and sexuality.”

“The organization started in 1993, when friends, three white women and three black women attended a conference that talked about the South as though queer people hadn’t always lived there,” Anna Rose Gable said. “They thought that it was messed up.”

Gable, a Decatur native, first got involved with SONG in college when she heard SONG speak. She was excited to join.

“Sign me up!” Gable said. “I bought a t-shirt and was ready to go. They were talking about things I wanted be working on in ways that deeply made sense to me.”

Meetings are once a month and open to everyone.

Since SONG’s beginning, diversity has been a priority.

Gable said she sees a pretty even amount of white and black people at meetings. Most of the members identify as LGBTQ+, but straight people are welcomed.

SONG members work to uncover the mysteries of systematic racism

Recently, SONG’s website and emails have been written in Spanish and English, often side by side, in an effort to expand their Hispanic/Latino base.

Their most recent project, a bailout of black mothers, happened in late August. The bailout, which happened across the South, had particular success in Atlanta where 25 mothers were bailed out of the Fulton County Jail and the Atlanta Detention Center. 

Black women are jailed at two times the rate white women are. White people make up 61% of the U.S. population, and black people only 12%.

According to Gable, one of the most common questions was about the decision process on which mothers get bailed out.

SONG leaders in each city decide based on variables such as the amount of time someone is in prison, whether they want to leave based on if they have any people outside to rely on or if people have called in to get SONG’s attention on people who they wanted out. 

But there’s no algorithm for this decision process.

SONG spent a few months raising money through grassroots funding, which is raising money from the public and not from foundations.

Gable explains grassroots funding as “raising a little bit of money from a lot of people,”

They stood on street corners with signs and were given change from ashtrays. Java Monkey sponsored a day where part of the money they earned that day went to SONG. Members gave speeches at churches and meetings.

“It’s super successful, I think, because it’s so direct,” Gable said. 

There are no demands on anyone SONG bails out. Members at the jail offer MARTA cards and rides, social workers and substance abuse counseling. Some people thank SONG and walk out of the parking lot.

Pictures used with permission from SONG Facebook.