In Spring of 1992, I came down for a college visit to Atlanta, GA before attending Morehouse College. My Dad and I were late for an 11am College tour. Having driven all night, I can remember changing into my suit in the car. The college had offered me a full academic scholarship, but the major concern was whether this Oklahoma boy could survive in the big city of Black Atlanta, GA.
As we got closer to the campus, the surge of traffic and excitement around the areas of Morris Brown, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta, and Spelman was so mystical. There was just that "smell" of Black Success in the air. I proceeded on my tour, as the Senior giving me my tour showed me the historical campus buildings, classrooms, and that notorious cafeteria. I was sold.
That afternoon, we checked into a hotel in Austell. My dad questioned me about the party-like atmosphere of the city, and expressed his concerns. At the hotel, there were some scantily clad girls unloading luggage from as far away as Louisiana. He openly asked them, do you all dress like this all the time and what event is going on in the city for you to drive this far? In nearly a rehearsed response, they responded in unison, "...Freaknic!". At the hotel, there were some scantily clad girls unloading luggage from as far away as Louisiana. He openly asked them, do you all dress like this all the time and what event is going on in the city for you to drive this far? In nearly a rehearsed response, they responded in unison, "...Freaknic!". Girls, Daisy Dukes, a cool new city, the smell of African American Success. I was sold.
That year, I would meet and make the beginnings of friendships I still have today. I was introduced to the world's best donuts from Krispy Kreme. I saw Atlanta's own Dennis Kimbrough blow my mind in a speech about African American success, as he quoted successful African Americans in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Chapel on Morehouse' campus. I saw Haitian government officials walk onto the campus as the elite leaders they were. I watched a speech from Reverand Andrew Young on black success. I studied famous Black Atlantans, learning about Atlanta Life Insurance, the history of the Sweet Auburn, and yes, I walked the pavements where famous Morehouse Men walked such as Martin Luther King, Jr. , Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Maynard Jackson, Edwin Moses, David Satcher, and Louis Sullivan. I walked through Art galleries as a mandate from Art teachers, drove down Cascade to see Black Atlanta wealth, ate late night soul food at the Beautiful, and saw TBoz from TLC walking through Lenox Mall.
Morehouse and my successes there took me to Chicago and New York City for summertime employment and educational internships. People there were dying to either visit or move to Atlanta.
It was those series of events, experiences, opportunities, ability for networking, seeing and living Black success, that helped me gain a true fondness for the city.
BlackLanta.com Becomes BlackAtlanta.com
Fast forward, I launched a site called BlackLanta.com around 2002. It was a play on the word "Hotlanta". I noticed that it was hard to spell and set my eyes on acquiring BlackAtlanta.com. Back then, the site BlackAtlnata.com was "owned" by someone else. Who knows what they had up there for a site, as I never knew. But I saw that the site's ownership was expiring. A friend of mine, Stuart Clarke, programmed an application to page me on my pager when the site was available to be purchased. The morning I bought the site, I had forgotten my pager at home. I called Godaddy.com and it was available. I bought BlackAtlanta.com for $9.
Then, I sought out a phone number. Out of the blue, the last four digits of the number was 2522. On a phone keypad, it spells "BLAC". Can you imagine the divine intervention I felt?
A few months later, our first promotions and advertising deals came to us for the NBA all Star Weekend being held in Atlanta. We had no ideas how to package online advertising and emails. But learned a tremendous amount in the last 10 years.
We've seen great websites and ideas come and go in Atlanta. We've been at the top of search engines, (and still are). We experienced when people gave up their websites in order to market from Myspace. Then myspace died in popularity and we were still there chugging along.
We've promoted parties on Fridays and Saturdays and then advertised for Gospel events for Sundays.
We've been the first, and the last to be considered as partners for promotions and advertising.
But in the end, the race goes to those who have the patience and determination to win and endure.
We are here to stay. We love Black Atlanta, and all that it has to offer.
My friends who finished Morehouse to become famous ministers of the faith, doctors of medicine, attorneys, and bankers. My neighbors, who like me, moved to Atlanta to fulfill the reuniting of their roots to the South. My service providers and colleagues for business, who are able to move Millions in revenue. My tastemaker friends who know how to party hard until 6am the next morning, EVEN IF the Mayor shuts down the entertainment sections of Atlanta to prepare for Olympic dignitaries.
ALL of us... PLUS you.... make up Black Atlanta. We are Black Atlanta. Join us in your love of the city, and let's make it better.
Hey, I'm Brandon.
Amazingly, I've found my purpose in life recently... My purpose is to live a happy & meaningful life while being a shining example that life's worth living, that true dreams can come true, and beliefs with hard work produce lifestyle wonders.
Let's live better lives in Atlanta!