The retiree who’s still discovering the city
Retired college administrator
I came here from New York in 2015 after being in New York for 40 years. But I’m originally from Jamaica. Like so many immigrants, I came to America to do graduate work. After I got my MBA from Columbia, I lived in Manhattan, then moved to Rockland County, which is 30 miles north of the city. I worked at St. John’s University in Queens as vice president of institutional research and planning.
My husband passed in 2014, and I retired later that year. I was really looking forward to staying in New York, doing community outreach, going to the theater. But my daughter talked me into moving in with her here. She’s married, and they have a son. Plus, my son and daughter-in-law had moved to Atlanta.
Over the 15 or so years that I’d visited my daughter here, I was always amazed with the amount of growth and construction. It was evolving from a little city to a big metropolis. That was a symbol of the growth. And you could get anything you wanted here, all kinds of international food.
There’s a lot of culture here. The Fox Theatre brings Broadway to Atlanta. We had Hamilton, Alvin Ailey. A lot of the things I’d do in New York, I can do here. One of the things that really impresses me are all these counties that each has their own major performing arts center. So, you don’t have to be in the middle of Atlanta to go see culture.
You create your own circles. I joined St. Paul Episcopal Church in Atlanta. I’m focusing on community outreach, doing a mentoring program for young girls, and a food distribution program.
One of the big things in Jamaica is high school alumni associations. Even if you graduated 60 years ago, you’re still affiliated with your high school. So, I got involved with the Atlanta Jamaican Association. It’s a built-in community that has shared assumptions about culture and heritage. The Jamaican population in metro Atlanta is more than 50,000.
I don’t consider myself an Atlantan, yet. I don’t know if you can be an Atlantan after just five years. There’s still so much to learn. I love to talk about Atlanta when I have family come in. I like to take them on tours. One thing I really love is the burgeoning black life here. It’s very diverse, yes, but it’s also great to see people of color in government and so many people of color doing well but also doing good.
One of the things I find very strange and more stark than in New York is the abutting of poverty and wealth. We have tickets for Atlanta United and less than a mile from Mercedes-Benz Stadium is all this rundown housing. How can this be in the city of Atlanta? You go to the fanciest street or neighborhood, and then, one street over is blight. If there’s so much wealth here, then more needs to be done.