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Navigating Transitions: A Reflection Forward on Councilman Jamal Burt's Journey

written by Chilton Stewart

Who is Councilman Jamal Burt? Well according to him he’s a “northern boy with southern sensibilities” an educator, a founding member of “Streetz of Gentlemen” a lover of the city of McDonough and Henry county. 

“My wife and I came down here in 2009 and we didn’t know what we were getting into. When we first saw the city. I fell in love with the city. As a northern boy I grew up in New Jersey and we had a very close knit community up there. All the kids were taken care of. There were services and things all of us were able to have growing up. Great education, great sports organizations and programs for the kids and stuff like that.” He continues “So when I came down here. And I saw there was a thriving community here and a growing community. This place could have the same kind of stuff. Even though I am a northern boy. I have southern sensibilities.” 

He truly loves the south in general, southern black culture in particular. “I love the down home feeling down here. I love the feeling of the cooking first of all and the heart that people put into the cooking and the food and I love just hanging out with the people.”

As a passionate and lifelong educator Councilman Burt thanks his father and family for his strong foundation and motto: Education Builds Opportunity . “In my family we had a code word called EBO. One thing about education is this. When there’s no doors. Education allows you to create one for yourself. I know the education system nowadays kind of disillusions everybody. Why? It's messed up. I am not going to lie. Part of the work I do is trying to fix that. Try to be the net to catch whatever is being dropped out of that. So now that we are catching all these students and seeing what their needs really are and stuff. That’s the key filing in the gaps where education is not hitting our students, our children. It needs to be reformed, it needs to be changed.”

With a wealth of knowledge on the ins and outs of public education and how it affects our youth. It becomes obvious that the city of McDonough has the right councilman for the job! His dedication for youth developmental opportunities drives him daily.

“These are the people we need to invest in. Because when we’re long and gone they are the ones taking over. So I teach my butt off. Why? Because I tell every single student I see I am not about to leave my kids here with a bunch of knuckle heads.” Yet he is hopeful about what we can do to ensure our kids understand that they have a bright future. “Because the world we are living in right now is crazy, we know that. But if we give these kids a glimmer of hope and let them know you already got inside you to make it. You just need a little effort. A little direction.”

Another aspect to Councilman Burt is his love of HBCUs. As a Morehouse man he enjoys nothing more than explaining to our youth the value and blessing HBCUs are to our community. “The main reason. I wanted to be closer to my people and get closer to my culture. I learned everything I would have learned at any other kind of university. But then before the classes were over every professor would be like “okay how does that fit in with the Black male experience” And when you are at college and every class is centered around how you relate what you just learned to the world as to who you are” that makes you see the world in a different lens.” HE credits his time at Morehouse for his work ethic and overall world view.

“That’s what they indoctrinate with at Morehouse. They show us y’all brothas are not at a disadvantage you’re strong, you’re powerful, go out here and use what you have been given. It wasn’t just Morehouse, the community that I grew up in was led by some amazing men, my father being one of them.”

He credits current Mayor Sandra Vincent for starting him on the path of public service and is philosophical about any growing pains the council may have experienced of late. “Every organization that’s new, even this city that’s new. Goes through a storming period before they go to a norming period. And in the storming period there’s going to be fighting there’s going to be arguing but it has to happen. Because if that doesn’t happen in your organization, the norm…What’s normal now won’t be set. The rules for the norm won’t be set. And that’s exactly what this city did.”

As for removing a controversial symbol of southern hate and racism Councilman Burt leans in and offers this explanation. “Things have to progress with what’s going on. If you don’t make room for that future you are going to get left behind. Henry County is the fifth fastest growing county in the U.S. Our job as city officials is to reflect our demographics. So yes we can respect everybody’s past and I do. That statue came down because it was an eyesore to too many people in the community. More people than it was a blessing. And so we have to go with the majority.” Indeed with leaders like this the future for the City of McDonough and Councilman Burt is as bright as it is promising.

Councilman Jamal Burt Appears on Voices of The Village Podcast (VOTV)

Get Your Copy of Game Changers Magazine Collector's Edition featuring Mayor Sandra Vincent of The City of McDonough


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