Columbus Organizing Together

COVID-19 changed everything

On Friday, May 1, Southern Anti-Racism Network sponsored a press conference sounding the alarm about the rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Georgia that are exacerbated by Governor Kemp issuing an edict-like order on April 20 calling for all cosmetology businesses (barber shops, beauty shops, nail salons, tattoo and massage parlors) to open on April 24 along with gyms and bowling alleys. On Monday, April 27, restaurants opened.

The press conference was at 11:30am at Itha’s Beauty Salon, 4679 Buena Vista Road, Columbus GA. Speakers were Deacon Andrew McBride, Nazareth Baptist Church: John House, City Council-District 10; Vanessa Jackson-MCSD Board-District 3; Adrian Chester, Pastor of Greater Beallwood Baptist Church and President of the Columbus Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.

Tony Spratt, owner of Itha’s Beauty Salon, says he and all his customers will wear masks while service is being rendered. He is the only operator. Itha’s didn’t open until Tuesday, April 28 to make sure he would have masks for all his customers.

In addition to bringing attention to the CDC guidance for people to wear masks in public, Southern Anti-Racism Network wants the community to know about Columbus Organizing Together (COT).

Columbus Organizing Together is a collaboration of nonprofits, parents, students, educators, people in business, elected officials, activists and people of faith who recognize the need to end poverty in Columbus to achieve affordable housing, education equity, public safety and healthy neighborhoods.

Nonprofit partners include Goodwill for greater access to GED opportunities and the Housing Authority to increase parent participation and advance education equity by providing Chromebooks to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.

Thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Crime Prevention Department of the Columbus Consolidated Government, Strong Parental Involvement in Community Education (SPICE) became a reality in Columbus in August 2019. SPICE Coordinator, Jennifer LeDenney, trains parents and students to use Chromebooks to access lesson plans at the MCSD website.

Theresa El-Amin, founder of SARN and SPICE says, “After 8 years of talking about the success of SPICE in Durham NC and the need for reducing poverty in Columbus including plugging the school-to-prison pipeline, the Crime Prevention grant made the change for us to move forward. We’re moving forward together through Columbus Organizing Together.”

The 2020 COT grant application is here.

COVID-19 has changed everything. The press conference  acknowledged that asking people to stay at home indefinitely is not sustainable while at the same time urging people to be safe when going out in public. Wearing a mask is the best practice. Under COVID-19, workers and social movements demonstrated worldwide on May 1, May Day. Columbus Organizing Together stands in solidarity with working people everywhere.

Contact: Theresa El-Amin, 762-821-1107 or