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Love letter to Atlanta
Image: Time Out

Dear Atlanta: A love letter to one of four cities that saved America

Commonly referred to as the southern Black mecca, Atlanta is rich in Black history, art, cuisine and culture.

By Jacy Topps

Dear Atlanta, 

With the stakes higher than ever, I watched with the entire nation as Georgia went blue for the second time. I’ve never been so proud to call you my home. It’s been a long time coming. According to everything you’ve been told, it was never going to happen. Do you remember when they said it couldn’t be done? I do. I was devastated after Stacey Abrams lost her gubernatorial race. Remember when former President Trump disparaged you and John Lewis on Twitter. (Former! I like the way that sounds!) Well, I took that personally and  apparently, you did too! 

Whether it’s your iconic music scene, spectacular restaurants or your somewhat controversial "Real Housewives," Atlanta, you have always been in the forefront of popular culture. But this time, you showed the nation your political power. Despite the unprecedented challenges we faced in 2020, you showed up. When faced with voter suppression, you still showed up. You not only showed up, you showed out! Your resilience is inspiring. Your clap backs are legendary. I remember when you took to the streets to protest police brutality last summer. Oh, then there was your women’s basketball team bucking their boss, showing the country how to get into “good trouble.” You have always strived for progress, no matter the cost.

Atlanta, we've been through a lot together, and we haven’t always seen eye to eye on some things. (Can we discuss your horrendous traffic?) But your beauty lies in your relentenesses, strength and rich history. From your HBCUs to the dedicated grassroots organization, you are the epitome of Black excellence. Now, I must admit, I’ve strayed to other cities. But you’ve got a hold on me, Atlanta. You’re a part of who I am and I wouldn't have it any other way.



Photograph: Courtesy Jacy Topps 

Black-owned businesses shaping Atlanta right now

Busy Bee Cafe in Atlanta
Busy Bee Cafe in Atlanta
Photograph: Courtesy Lemon Brands

1. Busy Bee Cafe

Situated in the heart of the West End, Busy Bee Cafe is an Atlanta institution. Founded in 1947 by Lucy Jackson, the small soul food restaurant was once where Martin Luther King Jr and other members of the SCLC gathered to strategize and eat during the Civil Rights Movement. Some of its other famous diners include President Obama and Outkast. Now run by restaurateur and chef Tracy Gates, celebrity sightings aren’t the only reason the restaurant stays packed—it’s the signature fried chicken.

2. Slutty Vegan

What started as a food truck has become a vegan fast food phenomenon. When Pinky Cole got tired of the lack of vegan options at fast food restaurants, she opened Slutty Vegan, a counter-serve spot for plant-based burgers. The line is usually long, but it’s well worth the wait. With burgers named One Night Stand and Ménage À Trois, Slutty Vegan is making vegan fast food cheeky (and we're not just talking about the buns). 


3. Hodgepodge Coffee

A strong supporter of the local art scene, Hodgepodge Coffee has been an Atlanta staple for nearly a decade. Owner Krystle Rodriguez wanted to build an inclusive, art-focused coffeehouse and bakery for the East Atlanta community. The cafe hosts a variety of pop-ups and displays art murals painted by local artists. Come for the delicious cappuccinos and artisan sandwiches, but stay for the amazing art show. 

4. For Keeps Bookstore

Located on historic Auburn Ave, For Keeps Books carries an impressive list of classic and rare books by African and African-American authors. The bookstore and reading room was started back in 2018 by artist and Atlanta-native Rosa Duffy, who wanted a space for readers to connect with Black writers. 


5. Sublime Doughnuts

If you have a sweet tooth, head to Sublime Doughnuts. After high school, founder Kamal Grant joined the Navy as a baker, then attended the Culinary Institute of America, where he learned the art of high-end desserts. Some doughnut flavors include A-Town Cream, Nestle Crunch, Yin Yang Twist, and Oreo.

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