New Abortion Billboard in Atlanta Targets African American Leaders

By Francesca Witcher

Not again. Another anti-abortion billboard was put on display by the Restoration Project in Atlanta last week, this time targeting African American leader Jesse Jackson.

The billboard reads “What does it mean to be betrayed?” with “betrayed” written in blood-scripted letters. What’s even more insulting is The Restoration Project’s domain for their website: It is clear who they are trying to target. Do they think that we are oblivious to these messages?

In addition to images of Jesse Jackson appearing on their website, they have civil rights hero John Lewis, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger as targets for their anti-choice campaign.

I have lost count of the number of anti-abortion billboards that have popped up in poor and pre-dominantly African American and other minority communities across the country. From the billboard in New York with the precious little African American girl in the foreground to the one in Chicago using our country’s first African American president as a target, to the “Endangered Species” billboards in both Florida and Atlanta, to the “Black and Beautiful” billboard that has popped up all across the country, I have grown so tired of these racist attacks on African American women’s bodies.

Not only have they used images of African American children and babies to spread an anti-abortion message, but they are determined to use these images to take away the reproductive rights of actual African American women to choose whether to have a child.

The Restoration Project’s argument is that eliminating abortion will save babies’ lives. I will not argue with them on when life begins: they believe life begins at conception and I believe life begins when the fetus is out of the womb. Everyone has different understandings of when life begins and I respect that. However, the main issue I have with anti-choice groups that fund these billboards is that they are not supporting preventative measures such as a comprehensive sex education or birth control options. It is pretty clear to me and millions of others that abstinence-only education does not work and is ineffective.

A report of government evaluations done by Advocates for Youth to determine the effectiveness of the multi-million dollar federally-funded abstinence-only programs in the early 1990s, said that the programs that the 11 states with these programs “showed few short-term benefits and no lasting, positive impact. A few programs showed mild success at improving attitudes and intentions to abstain. No program was able to demonstrate a positive impact on sexual behavior over time.”

In addition, if birth control and health care were accessible to all people, no matter their financial situation, many women of color would not have to face the decision of whether or not to have an abortion. Although women should never be shamed for having an abortion, fewer would face that decision if they had access to all family planning services.

This war on our bodies must stop! I am calling on women of color and allies on college campuses across the country to protest these billboards and let your local representatives know that your communities will not stand for them!

If there is a racist anti-abortion billboard in your college campus community and you are interested in speaking out, please contact me at [email protected] or the campus organizer who organizes with your region.

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