Joan Garner dies after cancer battle
Fulton County Commission Vice Chair Joan Garner died April 18 after a battle with breast cancer. Garner was the first openly gay Fulton County Commissioner, representing District 4, which includes Midtown and neighborhoods west of downtown Atlanta to Fulton Industrial Boulevard. Her wife was Fulton County State Court Judge Jane Morrison.
Tributes began to pour in from around the city as news of her death spread, with politicians, activists and other community members mourning her passing.
Garner, a Washington, DC native, moved to Atlanta in 1978. She was the co-founder in 1993 of Southerners On New Ground, a grassroots organization that works at the intersections of race, class, sexuality and gender. She also served on the boards of Lambda Legal and the Atlanta BeltLine, among many others.
Upon taking office in 2011, Garner called the inauguration “a realization of a lifelong quest for inclusion.”
She also recalled the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., saying she remembered angry, grieving people taking to the streets in protest.
“From that day forward I took up the mantle of social justice as my own,” she said. “Those days shaped me, they inspired me to pursue a life of social justice. It is what drives me and my decisions every day. My career choice in nonprofit philanthropy, my activist work in the civil rights movement, the movements of women’s equality and for gay rights.”
A memorial service for Garner will take place May 6 at 3 p.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Sweet Auburn, with a reception to follow at a location to be determined.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Joan P. Garner Health & Human Services Internship. Donations may be sent to ACCG Civic Affairs Foundation, 191 Peachtree St. N.E., Suite 700, Atlanta, GA 30303. They ask that people write “Joan Garner Internship” in the memo line.
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