From Bankhead 2 Buckhead

Yesterday I visited Home Depot’s Corporate Office and had lunch with a dear friend and mentor, Bill McLellan. After we ate, he took me to the 18th floor to view something I experience every day. 

To my right, I saw the Atlanta skyline and all of the familiar buildings I’ve seen that tell me I’m home when I’m flying or driving into the City. To my left, I saw a not so familiar skyline emerging from the landscape – the Buckhead skyline.

Buckhead is the skyline to the left and downtown Atlanta to the right

For those unafraid to admit it, Atlanta is a tale of two cities. For some, it is indeed the best of times and for others the worst of times. The haves and the have nots are all separated by what I call the “Great Divide” – aka The Northside Drive overpass. On one side of this bridge, you’ll find 10,000 homes valued under $100K or less, and on the other side, you’ll find 10,000 homes valued at $1Million or more. This Great Divide exists for a myriad of reasons, some personal and too many institutional. 

Even though these disparities paint a bleak picture, I’m encouraged because each day I have the privilege to link Bankhead and Buckhead through an unusual suspect – baseball. 

Baseball has afforded me a presence in both communities. Kelli and I started our company, Diamond Directors, about 15 years ago. Through this venture, we work with the some of the most talented amateur and professional baseball players in the country. A little over seven years ago, Kelli and I embarked on another venture – L.E.A.D. Through L.E.A.D., we work with some of the most raw, untapped talent in Atlanta. As funny as it sounds, I’m getting an opportunity to work with myself because I was exactly who my Ambassadors are. 

And what do I do with this privilege I’ve been given?

Every chance I get, I create opportunities for my Ambassadors and Diamond Directors clients to interact with each other. I love connecting the kids because they quickly get past all of the labels that society puts on them – privilege vs. poverty – and they see what’s most important – people. 

Baseball provides the artery from which their humanity can flow. They don’t care about Black and White; they want to talk about top plays, batting averages and oh did you see that fastball Teheran threw to win the game last night??!! Baseball allows them to be brothers and they only become enemies when they wear different uniforms and step between the lines. After the game is over though, they’re just brothers again. Baseball is the tie that binds. 

Next time you travel between Bankhead and Buckhead, ask yourself, what has God given me to link these two communities in ways that members of both can be empowered? Not so one can be envied and the other pitied. Envy and pity never bridged any gaps – only understanding and love can do that.