Video Watch Party Spotlights Abuses at GA Immigration Detention Center

Event: Carolyn Hadaway’s Monthly Video Watch Party

  • Date: Thursday, May 24
  • Time: 6:30pm – 9:00pm
  • Place: Private home near the intersection of Canton Hwy and Jamerson Rd/Shallowford Rd.; Woodstock, GA 30188. Close to Cherokee – Cobb County border.

Topic: Immigration. Special guest speaker is JoAnn Weiss, Chair, Board of Directors, El Refugio, a hospitality house located in Lumpkin, GA, providing assistance to the families of inmates of the next-door Stewart Detention Center, one of the United States’ largest detention centers for suspected illegal immigrants, run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

  • Ms. Weiss will discuss the growth of the immigration detention system since 1996 (especially since 9/11/2001) and the role of prisons for profit. She will examine the violation of civil and human rights at the Stewart facility and the work of El Refugio in running its hospitality house.

POC: Carolyn Hadaway,

Note from IndieDems proprietor, Tom Barksdale:

Lumpkin is “just up the road” from my hometown in Southwest Georgia, and even closer to the Jimmy Carter homestead in Plains. The El Refugio web page provoked a flood of personal memories by stating that “Partners from Koinonia Farm ( offer hospitality for family members needing a place to stay overnight during the week.”

Koinonia Farm was born the same year I was, in 1942. It’s mission statement says “We are Christians called to live together in intentional community sharing a life of prayer, work, study, service and fellowship. We seek to embody peacemaking, sustainability, and radical sharing. While honoring people of all backgrounds and faiths, we strive to demonstrate the way of Jesus as an alternative to materialism, militarism and racism.”

Meaning: Koinonia Farm was an interracial haven smack in the middle of segregated Georgia during the darkest days of segregation and on through the Civil Rights struggles of the 1950s-60s. Its inhabitants paid a heavy price of having to endure the isolation, intimidation, and violence all too common in that era.

Koinonia communal living did not include schools, and “home schooling” did not exist even as a concept. Koinoia’s children had to attend the local, segregated schools, where living together on a farm with black people pegged them as stranger than space aliens. To most of the locals, they were literally Comminists, a term I heard leveled at Koinonia whenever the topic came up. The children endured unspeakable acts of mental and physical harassment.

In 21015, former AJC journalist Jim Auchmutey wrote a book centered on the experience of one of those students: The Class of ’65: A Student, a Divided Town, and the Long Road to Forgiveness. It’s on Amazon with a five-star review. You want to read this book. Amazon sums it up well:

Being a student at Americus High School was the worst experience of Greg Wittkamper’s life. Greg came from a nearby Christian commune, Koinonia, whose members devoutly and publicly supported racial equality. When he refused to insult and attack his school’s first black students in 1964, Greg was mistreated as badly as they were: harassed and bullied and beaten. In the summer after his senior year, as racial strife in Americus—and the nation—reached its peak, Greg left Georgia.

Forty-one years later, a dozen former classmates wrote letters to Greg, asking his forgiveness and inviting him to return for a class reunion. Their words opened a vein of painful memory and unresolved emotion, and set him on a journey that would prove healing and saddening.

The Class of ’65 is more than a heartbreaking story from the segregated South. It is also about four of Greg’s classmates…who came to reconsider the attitudes they grew up with…

I have said to myself many times that the Trump era has left me feeling as if 60 years of presumed progress in America’s racial relations has been erased, and I have been transported in time back to the days when the “N” word was common currency, violence against minorities was normal, and anyone practicing equality for blacks, like Greg Wittkamper, had to be a Communist, not a “real” American. And you could become governor of Georgia by wielding an ax handle as a symbol of your noble resistance to segregation.

Johnny Isakson, David Perdue, Karen Handel, and Barry Loudermilk don’t need an ax handle to symbolize their warped views. They’ve got Donald Trump in the White House.

Leave a Reply