The AJC is exploring the dramatic demographic transformation of Cobb County, which is on the cusp of becoming a majority minority county. Here’s a sampling of the folks we spoke to about the changing racial landscape.
“I’ve lived here all my life. I’ve seen the transformation. I’m 68, seen it go from a totally white county and city. My senior year in high school was the first year they integrated the schools. I remember them saying ‘Boy, there’s going to be problems at Campbell High School.’ But we never had the first issue. We never had fights. It just happened, boom.”
– Max Bacon, mayor of Smyrna for 32 years, recipient of the 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award by Campbell High School
“I don’t feel threatened as far as East Cobb goes. Most of the killings are all in Fulton County, in my buddy John Lewis’ district … I got a firearms permit, I carry if I go downtown… . You got to worry about if you send your wife out at night (in East Cobb) to go to the store or go get gas. I told my wife, ‘You lock your car door the minute you get in your car.’ Even though I’m armed, I’m still always cautious.”
– Anthony Quadagno, 81, Cobb County resident since 1980
“Just like when you’re in a church you have the parishioners who’ve been there for a long time, but you always have to bring in younger and newer people and incorporate their perspective on things.”
– State Sen. Michael Rhett, 60, first African-American elected in District 33 (Powder Springs, Austell, Mableton and Marietta), on younger voters in Cobb.
“Obama’s presidency brought forth a lot of nervous white people. There’s a patina of polite racism, you see it in Cobb all the time.”
– Steven Lebow, rabbi, Temple Kol Emeth, East Cobb
Staff writer Ernie Suggs contributed reporting