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Why Did Maher Do Macon? Looking Back on Maher’s Macon Performance, and Why He Really Came

By Dave Oedel

On February 10, 2015, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, executed three fine, promising Muslim Americans, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, and Yusor’s husband, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, in a Chapel Hill, North Carolina apartment complex. It was partly over a parking dispute, but probably also because of Hicks’ anti-Muslim, anti-religion rage.

Three days before the North Carolina massacre, Bill Maher made a surprising appearance 400 miles away in Macon, Georgia, before about 1,500 people at Macon’s City Auditorium. Attending Maher’s Macon show were people from all over the southeast, including some from the Chapel Hill area, because Maher scheduled only two southeastern performances this year. One, on February 8, 2015, in a fancy, big Orlando theater, was predictable. More eye-opening was Maher’s choice of a tired Macon venue on February 7. … Continue Reading

Cold Blood in Georgia’s Heart — McRae’s Craigslist Classic-Car Killing

By Dave Oedel 

Macon, Georgia continues to be afflicted by a steady drip of black-on-black murders, three alone from a heated Bloomfield Road barroom melee among rival gang members in December, 2014. Then there was the point-blank murder of a 20-year-old in East Macon by a gun-toting 16-year-old in January, 2015. Leaders like former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis, himself African American, asked local people to refocus their attention from the Ferguson and New York City police controversies to help quell destructive violence locally among younger African Americans.

But black-on-black violence is hardly the only crime problem in Middle Georgia. White-on-white murder is pulsing along at a disturbingly steady pace right alongside black-on-black murders. Whether the victims and their murderers are black or white, the blood of every victim is uniformly red. … Continue Reading

GEICO: Partnership, Progress, and the Road Ahead — Macon’s Largest Private Employer Grows On

By Dr. Carl Findley III

Mark your calendars: February 19th is coming. Last year, Mayor Robert Reichert officially declared February 19th GEICO Appreciation Day in Macon. Reichert even presented GEICO with a key to the city of Macon after the company raised over $1 million for United Way. The key and honorary name day were a symbolic gesture underlining the reality that the past, present, and future of Macon and Middle Georgia are intertwined with this national insurance powerhouse.

Warren Buffet, a self-made businessman who bought his first stock at 11 years old and is now the second richest man in America and one of the most respected voices in American investment circles, originally invested in GEICO stock in 1951 as a young and eager 21-year-old business student at Columbia University. The original price for one share of publically traded GEICO stock back in 1948 was $27. Today, a share in Berkshire Hathaway, the parent company of GEICO, is worth over $224,000. Buffet is one of America’s great success stories, and that success can be traced to a decision that Buffet is quick to admit “changed my life,” the buying of GEICO stock.

GEICO—its official name is Government Employees Insurance Company—was actually founded in the thick of the Great Depression in 1936 by Leo and Lillian Goodwin, targeting insurance to just about the only people who had any money at the time: government and military employees. GEICO has a privileged relationship with federal employees that continues today and is reflected in GEICO’s strong ties to Washington, D.C. Because of GEICO’s historic ties to insuring military employees, Macon’s proximity to Robins Air Force base, and the pool of potential customers there, the base was a major factor in GEICO’s move into Middle Georgia.

GEICO’s beginnings in our community, however, were very humble compared to the sprawling complex tucked away about 5 miles from downtown Macon just off I-16 that few people ever see. Back in 1974, the company started out in downtown, on Poplar Street in the old First National Bank office building. An office that started with 150 employees has now grown to 5,646, a story of growth and development that any city in America would fight to call their own. … Continue Reading

Muslim Macon — What Is Islam for Our Muslim Neighbors? Newly Revised Post

By Dave Oedel

Macon is regularly reported to be a community with more Christian churches per capita than almost any other community in the United States. But no one talks about Muslim diversity in Macon. Macon has some of that too.

A little evidence of Muslim Macon can be seen easily. Much can’t.

Some things outsiders can see are the formally dressed African American men and boys distributing copies of the Nation of Islam’s newspaper, “The Final Call,” on Second Street at Ell, and on Napier Avenue at Log Cabin, in Macon-Bibb. Another thing in public evidence: the head-coverings, or hijab, worn by some but not all Muslim women when out in public in Middle Georgia.

Also in public view are the four publicly notable mosque buildings in Middle Georgia, if you know where to look for them. Travelers along four local thoroughfares routinely pass them — the Islamic Center on Vineville Avenue at Lamar in Macon, the Muhammad Mosque on Third Street at Wood in Macon, the Masjid Warith-ud deen Mohammed Mosque at 4525 Bloomfield Road in Macon, and the Islamic Center at 2501 Elberta Road in Centerville, Warner Robins.

The Muhammad Mosque on Third Street and Wood in Macon

The Muhammad Mosque on Third Street and Wood in Macon

The Masjid Mosque on Macon's Bloomfield Road

The Masjid Mosque on Macon’s Bloomfield Road

The Islamic Center in Macon on Vineville at Lamar

The Islamic Center in Macon on Vineville at Lamar

These four mosques and their congregations mark local differences among Macon’s Muslims, in some ways suggestive of the differences that distinguish Muslims outside the United States, but also reflecting American racial, ethnic, economic and political differences.

The Muhammad Mosque is allied with the Nation of Islam under Minister Louis Farrakhan of Chicago. The Nation of Islam is an American-grown version of Islam following the lead of its founder, Elijah Muhammad, tracing also from key affiliations with Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Elijah Muhammad’s first wife, Clara, who was born in Macon and is known … Continue Reading

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