I-285 billboard proclaims ‘black people are being pushed out of Atlanta’

An Atlanta billboard promoting a new documentary about gentrification was paid for by Black Channel Films. ("Gentrified” website)
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An Atlanta billboard promoting a new documentary about gentrification was paid for by Black Channel Films. ("Gentrified” website)

Drivers heading down I-285 near Camp Creek Parkway have been faced with a billboard unlike most of the others they pass.

Displayed across a black background, bold white letters in all caps read: BLACK PEOPLE ARE BEING PUSHED OUT OF ATLANTA.

That controversial message, referring to gentrification in the city, comes at a time when concerns about affordable housing have been increasingly in the spotlight.

In March, the Rev. Joe Beasley, a longtime civil rights activist in Atlanta, accused former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin in an email of causing "the gentrification of Atlanta."

A couple months later, a group of housing activists were at City Hall calling for new policies to help renters and homeowners squeezed by rising housing costs and stagnant wages.

When Journey Men's Shelter closed in November after more than 30 years in Atlanta, its executive director named the increase of housing costs and gentrification in the area as reasons more are at risk of losing their homes.

And those are just a few examples.

Along with the attention-grabbing message, the ad also includes a date, a website URL and a disclaimer that it's paid for by Black Channel Films.

It’s promoting a new documentary, "Gentrified.” The website says it explores “the unspoken ethnic component behind the most devastating socioeconomic movement in American society today.”

The film will be shown 6 p.m. Saturday at the Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural Center and Bookstore in Atlanta. It will be followed by a Q&A with Mary Gill of WAOK 1380 AM. Tickets are $20.

It is also playing in New York, Chicago, London, Detroit, Houston and Washington D.C.