Makeda Johnson offered the devotional message at the first Virtual Transform Westside Summit of 2021. Drawing inspiration from The Bible’s book of Nehemiah, Johnson reflected on Nehemiah’s efforts to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem as well as the community the walls were intended to protect. Johnson, a Vine City resident and Founder of Sisters Action Team, urged attendees to do what is necessary to ensure that the revitalization happening in Atlanta’s Historic Westside doesn’t leave behind the people who have for so long called it home.
Makeda Johnson, Vine City Resident & Founder of Sisters Action Team
An artist, community advocate, and ordained minister, Johnson spoke on how the year 2020 helped open many eyes to the realities of the challenges we face as a society. “Globally, everybody had to be still,” she said, “everybody was able to see more than they ever saw before.” Johnson stressed that now is the time to be intentional about bringing economic and racial justice to the Westside, an effort she outlined in her 2017 essay, “Fulfilling Our Vision of the Beloved Community.” Like Nehemiah, Johnson believes that people are the most important capital within a community—we must invest in and empower residents to be able to contribute and continue to build a Westside we all can be proud of.