We’re back in Atlanta, Georgia, continuing to look at urban poverty issues… Today I sat in on an excellent presentation by Nelia Kimbrough, a long-time social justice advocate in this city. (Ms. Kimbrough is on the staff at The Open Door Community here.) She described an insidiously steady progression of discrimination against the poor in Atlanta. She said while this was happening in phases (closing of homeless shelters, demolishing of low-income housing… it began happening in an accelerated fashion prior to the Olympics being held here in 1996. At one point, the city even offered one-way Greyhound bus tickets to anywhere in the country — to the homeless. Now there are only two winter homeless shelters in all of Atlanta and one of them (that houses 700 homeless) is on the verge of closing. Ms. Kimbrough pointed to a recent edition of The Atlanta Progessive News. An investigative piece in the paper chronicles alleged behind-the-scenes links between the Central Atlanta Progress, which represents business interests in the downtown area, and putting pressure on the shelter to close. Ms. Kimbrough said this is yet another saga of power and greed trying to trump basic human rights… Later today, I got in a conversation with a homeless man. I asked him if he knew about the possibility of the shelter closing and he said he did. I asked him if he knew much about the Central Atlanta Progress putting pressure on the shelter. He said he was just vaguely aware of the group, then paused. “Don’t they realize we’re people just like they’re people?” He mused. And more than even that… If you’re Christian, for instance, don’t we realize that our salvation hinges on how we treat these homeless people, and others on the margins of society? It’s kind of like a spiritual no brainer, if one is versed in :the gospel message.