ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Local activists are fighting to revitalize Martin Luther King Jr.'s old neighborhood.

“When driving around the West Side you see a lot of homes that have been abandoned. A lot of buildings that are dilapidated and probably need to be torn down and we know that one time this community was just vibrant,” said Shan Cooper, a volunteer with the Beloved Benefit.

Cooper is talking about the historic West Side, a neighborhood that had been desired for more than 100 years and is woven into Atlanta’s rich history. It even had prominent residents like Dr. King, but unfortunately in the early 2000s the West Side was at the epicenter of the mortgage fraud crisis and it hasn’t rebounded since.

“It has lagged behind in so many different ways from a crime element, from the health outcome element, from the education element, from an infrastructure element, for so many years it has lagged behind the rest of the city” said Rodney Bullard, from the Chick-fil-A Foundation.

But Bullard said revitalization is underway.

“Dr. King talked about the beloved community. It is a concept that he studied when he was in centenary and the concept is that that the community takes care of one another that no one is left behind,” added Bullard.

Ambassador Andrew Young, Falcons owner Author Blank, and Dan Cathy the CEO of Chick-fil-A are among those joining forces to transform the West Side into a beloved community, and the City of Refuge is one of the organizations that will see a benefit.

“Anytime you just have one neighborhood, one concentration of people that find themselves at a crisis level, whether that is poverty, or homelessness, or lack of vocational opportunities, it has a ripple that goes through the community” said Bruce Deel, CEO of City of Refuge.  “We want to reverse that ripple effect”.

Cooper said the more people know what’s being done the quicker the community will be transformed

“Success is people getting involved rolling up our sleeves doing what we have to do to ensure the West Side community and its citizens have a great place to live, work and play”.

This initiative also includes a benefit where the proceeds will go directly to the community. For more information about the Beloved Benefit, visit

Copyright 2019 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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