Life with Gracie

This Life: Single dads still increasing. What’s up with that?

This Life: Single dads still increasing. What’s up with that?

Becoming a single father never figured into Corey McDaniel’s plans. It is not what he would’ve chosen for himself or his sons. But if there’s anything the 48-year-old Stone Mountain dad has learned over the past year and a half, it is that sometimes we don’t get to choose. On May 18, 2016, without warning, McDaniel became the sole parent to his boys, Corey Jr. and Christian...
This Life with Gracie: Meet the keepers of Gideon’s Promise

This Life with Gracie: Meet the keepers of Gideon’s Promise

Back in September, Sean Ramsey stood at the intersection of Central Avenue and Memorial Drive just outside Atlanta Municipal Court holding a sign that read “homeless please help.” For all practical purposes, the 48-year-old may as well have been standing at the corner of Callousness and Indifference. Both were apparently at play when Ramsey was arrested, hauled off to jail and made to...
Nonprofit provides low-cost toys, but the dignity will cost parents nothing

Nonprofit provides low-cost toys, but the dignity will cost parents nothing

A week or so ago, this place had all the trappings of a little library, dark bookcases filled with all manner of books, tables and chairs sandwiched between a coffee shop and a neighborhood market. But since my visit to the Carver Neighborhood Market, it has been transformed into a winter wonderland, and right about now, I imagine it bustling with hundreds of parents shopping for the perfect toy for...
This Life: Is sexual harassment only about men behaving badly?

This Life: Is sexual harassment only about men behaving badly?

Every time you think the last man has fallen, there’s one more to add to the ever-growing list of sexual harassment claims. Let’s see. Last week’s tally yielded journalist Matt Lauer, creator and former host of “A Prairie Home Companion” Garrison Keillor, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, and Reps. Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.) and Blake Farenthold (R-Texas). Of course, those are...
Justice for the Rev. Otis Byrd Sr.; a new beginning for his namesake

Justice for the Rev. Otis Byrd Sr.; a new beginning for his namesake

On a recent Wednesday evening, a half-dozen members of the gospel group Adoration gathered at the home of its founder Otis Byrd Jr. For nearly two hours, they oohhed and aahhed through vocal exercises before launching into “Hosanna,” “I Need You” and “Glory and Honor” and then spilling out into the night. In less than 24 hours, the 33-year-old was at it again. This...
This Life: Advances in HIV detection a small step in the right direction

This Life: Advances in HIV detection a small step in the right direction

The window from HIV infection to diagnosis is closing. That was the big news released Tuesday in a teleconference with doctors at the Centers for Disease Control about the agency’s latest Vital Signs report. The estimated median time from infection to diagnosis dropped to three years in 2015 from a high of three years and seven months just four years earlier. That means 85 percent of the estimated...
This Life: Why Decatur mom decided to bust some moves in public

This Life: Why Decatur mom decided to bust some moves in public

It being the holiday season when a lot of darkness can creep into our lives or the lives of those we know, La Detra White was in search of a light moment last week, something that might remind her and others that bad moments have a way of turning around for good. She logged onto her computer and began searching through her blog, LiveYourAwesomeLife.Com, the place where she often offers up words...
This Life with Gracie: What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

This Life with Gracie: What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome. For more than two decades, those three words have consumed Liz Burlingame because, well, words mean something. They convey feelings and connote action. They can comfort or cause pain. They can be our best friend or our worst enemy, failing us completely. That’s how Burlingame feels every time she tries to explain this thing that sent her back to her parents’ home...
Former Morehouse professor’s serve America tours win AARP grant

Former Morehouse professor’s serve America tours win AARP grant

Mike Weaver was teaching environmental health at the University of South Florida back in 2011 when he posed a question to his students that would change the trajectory of life: How would you like to go serve New Orleans? Of the 44 students who decided to take him up on his offer, only two had previously visited the city. Twenty-five of them had never ventured outside the state of Florida. Twenty-five...
This Life with Gracie: What is nonviolent domestic abuse?

This Life with Gracie: What is nonviolent domestic abuse?

A year after her husband died in May 2013, Angie Racine was still reliving the emotional abuse she says she suffered during their marriage. Like a lot of women, she didn’t consider the secrets he kept — his drug use and money problems — harmful. When he died in May 2013 of colon cancer, Racine found herself processing their years together with a therapist. Two years later, in honor...
This Life with Gracie: Druid Hills Fulbright scholar headed to Greece

This Life with Gracie: Druid Hills Fulbright scholar headed to Greece

At the end of another school day early this month, I met Vincent Gray again in the teacher’s lounge at Druid Hills High School. It was the second time in just two years. The first time, a parent had reached out to tell me what a great teacher Gray is, the kind that not only teaches students facts, but how to think critically. After just six years at Druid Hills, Gray, who earned a master&rsquo...
This Life with Gracie: Thanks to Habitat, another family is home for the holidays

This Life with Gracie: Thanks to Habitat, another family is home for the holidays

Next week, Jamilah Najeeullah will sit down to a table surrounded by family and spread with a large turkey, turnip greens, dressing and all the trimmings that make Thanksgiving Day special. And in keeping with family tradition, she and nearly 20 others will take their turn at reciting the thing for which they are most grateful. For 64-year-old Najeeullah, this Habitat home, the first she has ever...
This Life with Gracie: HIV quarantine? No. Better access to health care? Yes, by all means

This Life with Gracie: HIV quarantine? No. Better access to health care? Yes, by all means

Last month, Georgia Rep. Betty Price set off a national firestorm when she asked a state health official whether people with HIV could be legally quarantined. It wasn’t the first time the word and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, ended up in the same sentence, of course. We heard it a lot in 1985, when 51 percent of respondents in a Los Angeles Times poll supported quarantining AIDS patients...
8 tips to consider before your church falls victim to gun violence

8 tips to consider before your church falls victim to gun violence

Tuesday morning, two days after a gunman killed 26 people during a morning church service in Texas, the Rev. Bruce Cook awakened to find himself still shell-shocked like the rest of us. Unlike the rest of us, Cook, who spent nearly three decades as a parole examiner and chaplain in local jails and state and federal correctional systems and another nine or 10 years counseling crime victims, was...
Please tell me: Who do you think is the good Samaritan in this tale?

Please tell me: Who do you think is the good Samaritan in this tale?

I might have dismissed her judgment of me out of hand, but she called me sister. Sister as opposed to racist, like so many others. Sister instead of some other rather graphic label. She called me Sister in Christ. Sisters who are polar opposites apparently when it comes to loving your neighbor as yourself. It rang like old news. It wasn’t the first time someone called into question my Christianity...
What if developmental disabilities get between you and playing ball?

What if developmental disabilities get between you and playing ball?

Less than two years ago, Taylor Duncan’s dream for a baseball league that welcomed teens and adults with autism, Down syndrome and other developmental and intellectual disabilities was just that. A dream. He tried desperately to join one league after another, but each time, he was rejected. Coaches decided he just wasn’t cut out to play ball. The reason, they said, was his autism, which...
Life with Gracie: Five years later, Tripp Halstead better than expected

Life with Gracie: Five years later, Tripp Halstead better than expected

Five years ago Oct. 29, Stacy and Bill Halstead’s only child was nearly killed when a tree limb fell on him while he played outside his Winder day care center. And so every Oct. 29 since then, without even looking at the calendar, the stress of that day comes for a visit. “I let myself cry for what happened to him, for all the suffering he went through,” Stacy Halstead said. But...
Life with Gracie: When should you be concerned about colon cancer?

Life with Gracie: When should you be concerned about colon cancer?

We don’t hear much about women and colorectal cancer, but it happens. And sometimes it happens earlier than even medical professionals would expect. Really early. Hard to believe? Ask attorney Tawny Mack of Atlanta. She was a senior at Georgia Southern University when she first saw blood in her stool and suspected something might be wrong. Mack did all the right things. She immediately saw a...
If Trump got it wrong, what should he have said to soldier’s widow?

If Trump got it wrong, what should he have said to soldier’s widow?

A lot has been said this past week about President Donald Trump’s telephone call to the widow of La David Johnson, one of four service members killed earlier this month during an ambush in Niger. What he said. What he didn’t say. Listening to the back and forth, the critics and those who came to the president’s defense, I couldn’t help wondering what would’ve been the...
This Life with Gracie: How a school assignment became a campaign to help transgender youths

This Life with Gracie: How a school assignment became a campaign to help transgender youths

Bennett Stone is just 10 years old, but he’s heard enough about the plight of transgender youths to know life for them is more than a little difficult. And so when his fifth-grade teacher handed him a list of possible topics to explore for a class project last spring, the choice was clear: gender diversity. His research revealed even more about life as a transgender person and society&rsquo...
Pain of son’s suicide became strength to help others

Pain of son’s suicide became strength to help others

Iris Bolton knows a lot about grief, and so she has come here to deliver a message. You really can survive brokenness and trauma. That’s true even if you’ve had to face the suicide of a child. That isn’t something someone told Bolton. She has lived with that reality now for more than 40 years. But unlike the vast majority of people who experience the loss of a loved one to suicide...
This Life with Gracie: Couple turns spotlight on childhood brain tumors

This Life with Gracie: Couple turns spotlight on childhood brain tumors

Nearly 13 children in the United States are diagnosed with a brain tumor every day. It’s estimated 30,000 children are living with brain tumors, according to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. Of those, nearly 1,500 will die. And yet, only about 4 percent of government funding for research is earmarked for pediatric cancers, with less than 1 percent going toward pediatric brain tumor research...
This Life with Gracie: Can a fat girl be fit, too?

This Life with Gracie: Can a fat girl be fit, too?

Sometime around 4:30 this morning, Mirna Valerio slid out of bed, did a few squats to warm up her back and legs and headed to kitchen for a strong cup of black joe. An hour later, she donned her headlamp and headed to a nearby track, where each day she runs, oh, 2 to 3 miles before returning home for a quick breakfast and work at the Rabun Gap Nacoochee School, about 117 miles northeast of Atlanta...
This Life with Gracie: Church families open homes to children caught in opioid crisis

This Life with Gracie: Church families open homes to children caught in opioid crisis

Cheryl Smith and her husband, Jeremy, had already gone through private adoption to build their family, but the thought of fostering a child scared them. The thought of having to say goodbye to a child they had cared for and loved seemed like the hardest thing in the world. But in 2012, the Smiths found themselves at a church meeting in which a representative for the nonprofit FaithBridge Foster Care...
This Life: In the wake of Las Vegas tragedy, are our prayers enough?

This Life: In the wake of Las Vegas tragedy, are our prayers enough?

It’s safe to say “our thoughts and prayers are with you” is a familiar refrain after a tragedy like the one that unfolded last week in Las Vegas. In many ways, it is as natural a response as “thank you” when receiving gifts and other kindnesses or “God bless you” after a hardy sneeze. And quite frankly often just as empty. But should there be a response after...
Do white NFL fans see players as human or as mascots?

Do white NFL fans see players as human or as mascots?

Some of my readers aren’t happy. They are, in fact, downright angry that I would, one, criticize the President and, two, disrespect the American flag by suggesting that it’s OK for NFL players to take a knee during the national anthem to express displeasure with police brutality toward African-Americans. And so after my column, NFL unity trumps President’s hate speech, ...
Pastors — one white, one black — take on hard questions of race

Pastors — one white, one black — take on hard questions of race

In a small prayer room at New Life Covenant Church, co-pastors Tim Rodgers and Catherine Gilliard talk about the cost of laying bare one’s heart when it comes to conversations about race, gender, gentrification and justice. Rodgers, a white father of two, feared being misunderstood and judged. He also feared being rejected. “I’m a peacemaker so I don’t like conflict,&rdquo...
This Life With Gracie: Does Las Vegas shooting leave you scared?

This Life With Gracie: Does Las Vegas shooting leave you scared?

Monday began like all my days – 5 a.m. quiet time with a cup a coffee and reading of the scripture. I felt pretty good but then my mind turned to work as it always does, and that meant checking my email. Twenty people attending a concert in Las Vegas had been killed. As if that weren’t bad enough, television news provided an update: 50 people were dead, 200 injured in what officials were...
This Life with Gracie: Friendship that’s stood the test of time

This Life with Gracie: Friendship that’s stood the test of time

On a Thursday late last month, Gloria Sheppard and six of her girlfriends gathered at Paschal’s over plates of fried chicken, fried fish and ribs to catch up. They have been meeting this way – for lunch, a movie or just because — as part of some unspoken ritual established more than half a century ago when they were in their 20s, and they cheekily call themselves the Unique Ones...
This Life with Gracie: A coming together to be the change you want

This Life with Gracie: A coming together to be the change you want

After the election of Donald Trump as president last November, Katie Anderson felt like a lot of women — shocked, appalled and afraid. In her mind, she was seeing a profound divide in the country along racial, class and even generational lines. “I felt for the first time in my life a threat to what I’d believed was American ideals and identity as a melting pot,” the 46-year-old...
This Life with Gracie: NFL unity trumps President’s hate speech

This Life with Gracie: NFL unity trumps President’s hate speech

It’s a pretty good guess President Trump didn’t count on the NFL’s response to his demand to fire or suspend players who kneel during the national anthem. And quite frankly, after seeing what happened to Colin Kaepernick, I hadn’t either but my spirit soared Sunday as I watched owners and coaches locking arms with players in defiance of the president’s verbal lashing...
This Life with Gracie: A pastor and his 150-year-old church come full circle

This Life with Gracie: A pastor and his 150-year-old church come full circle

By the time the Rev. Dwight Andrews arrived at the First Congregational Church in 1988, the Atlanta worship center had already established itself as a beacon of hope; a place of not only progress but possibility. But for all the good it had done, for all the uplift it had provided over the last century, the church had fallen into disrepair and had grown inward, more concerned with its own needs and...
This Life with Gracie: Alpharetta mom on a mission to prevent suicide

This Life with Gracie: Alpharetta mom on a mission to prevent suicide

People who lose a loved one to suicide are haunted by a myriad of whys, hows, and the what-ifs that can never be answered. Why would anyone ever take their own life? What makes them desire death in the first place? And how, for God’s sake, do they build up the nerve to do it? Like so many others, it was all Teressa Stann was left with after the death of her brother Louie Ruspi in 2011. Questions...
This Life with Gracie: Are white churches doing Christianity right?

This Life with Gracie: Are white churches doing Christianity right?

As Hurricane Irma barreled toward us last week, I was hunkered down at home putting the finishing touches on a less threatening story and half-listening to the television. Then at precisely the moment my husband switched the channel from the weather forecast to ABC’s “The View,” I was forced to lean in. Robert E. Lee IV was speaking, and the mixed-race audience was going wild with...
This Life with Gracie: Teddy the Spaz Man more than a hound dog

This Life with Gracie: Teddy the Spaz Man more than a hound dog

Teddy the Spaz Man is a 3 1/2-year-old hound mix who lives with a man, a woman, two dogs and a cat, last name Warren at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac. The Warrens, Diane and Aaron, first met Teddy at a shelter in October 2014 and brought him home here to Canton, where he has lived happily ever since. You might have heard of him. He’s goofy. He’s funny. He’s every man’s dog...
This Life with Gracie: Wondering if Westside Works works? Here’s one answer

This Life with Gracie: Wondering if Westside Works works? Here’s one answer

On the eve of The Falcons-Cardinals football game a few weeks ago, Antonia Thomas sat just outside the small kitchen of West Nest and told me how the stadium restaurant has changed her life. Thomas, 43, moved with her four children from Americus eight years ago to Atlanta’s Westside just as talks of a new Falcons stadium began. She is one of nearly 500 residents from some of Atlanta’s...
Life with Gracie: White retired educator offers a different view of affirmative action

Life with Gracie: White retired educator offers a different view of affirmative action

Janet Hogan Chapman believes there was a time when affirmative action was needed to correct discriminatory practices against blacks and other minorities. Not anymore. “Let each be judged solely on set parameters and qualifications,” the 63-year-old retired McDonough school teacher said. Chapman was responding to the Justice Department’s recent memo seeking lawyers to investigate...
This Life with Gracie: Pizza and the 9/11 terrorist attack

This Life with Gracie: Pizza and the 9/11 terrorist attack

Every year around this time Robert Eisenhardt gets an uncontrollable urge to go outside and be alone. He knows instinctively the moment when a plane struck the north tower of the World Trade Center and that he will fall part because, well, that’s what he’s always done. With the 16th anniversary of the terror attack falling on Monday, he will likely spend the day working at Fiserv financial...
This Life with Gracie: Mom, are you suffering from postpartum depression?

This Life with Gracie: Mom, are you suffering from postpartum depression?

The pregnancies were pretty easy except Amy Corn felt unusually anxious. About germs. About death. The dark moments first surfaced in 2008 when Corn was pregnant with her daughter and again in 2011 while pregnant with her son. “There were days when I felt completely hopeless, and nervous, and cried for no reason,” Corn said recently. For years, she accepted the dark mood as her new normal...
Changing the narrative about black gay men

Changing the narrative about black gay men

One night in November 2014, Charles Stephens listened intently as black gay men rose to recount their stories — some heartbreaking, some inspiring — about homophobia, racism, HIV and other issues at an event called the Blueprint Dialogue. There was the Morehouse college senior who expressed a need for unconditional love. Small acts of affirmation, he said, would go a long way toward healing...
Black, gay and proud: one man’s quest to thrive

Black, gay and proud: one man’s quest to thrive

For two days early last month, Daniel Driffin hunkered down at the Westin Hotel working to create ways to improve the lives of young people ages 13-24 who are living with HIV. As the 31-year-old co-founder of the non-profit THRIVE SS, this is Driffin’s life as he tries to make good on a mission to ensure black gay men no longer feel ashamed about who they are or live in isolation because they...
Despite progress, Atlanta’s HIV epidemic is worse

Despite progress, Atlanta’s HIV epidemic is worse

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted in 2016 that if current rates continue, one in two African-American gay and bisexual men will be infected with HIV, the virus that causes it AIDS, during their lifetime. In Atlanta, the epidemic was particularly acute. Now, it may be worse.  Dr. Carlos del Rio, co-director of Emory University’s Center for AIDS Research, put it this...
The Silent Epidemic: How purpose saved this HIV survivor’s life

The Silent Epidemic: How purpose saved this HIV survivor’s life

In the spring of 1985, Craig Washington started to feel constant nausea. He had no appetite and he was battling a cold that wouldn’t go away. Before long, he was experiencing night sweats, swollen lymph nodes and thrush, all classic symptoms of the virus that causes AIDS. He was 25 and certain his life was about to change. Four years earlier on June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and...
Personal stories help counter negative images of black gay men

Personal stories help counter negative images of black gay men

One night in November 2014, Charles Stephens listened intently as black gay men rose to recount their stories — some heartbreaking, some inspiring — about homophobia, racism, HIV and other issues at an event called the Blueprint Dialogue. There was the Morehouse college senior who expressed a need for unconditional love. Small acts of affirmation, he said, would go a long way toward healing...
The Silent Epidemic: Counting the cost of being ignored

The Silent Epidemic: Counting the cost of being ignored

Black gay men are 22 times more likely to be HIV positive than Black Americans overall, according to the CDC. And reports say that 54% of black gay men who are HIV positive are not in care.  But despite the daunting numbers that illustrate black gay men are over represented in HIV infection cases, many express that their reality—their struggle—is ignored. Today black gay...
Life with Gracie: 54 years after March on Washington, a new call to action

Life with Gracie: 54 years after March on Washington, a new call to action

At exactly 6 p.m. Sunday, Kylan Pew will board a chartered bus to our nation’s capital along with hundreds of other faith leaders to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington. Pew, 27, won’t have much in the way of memories to share with the others, but the anniversary is no less important. The way he sees things, Monday’s 1,000 Ministers March will be a show of solidarity against...
Life with Gracie: How Aimee Copeland will use nature to help others with disabilities

Life with Gracie: How Aimee Copeland will use nature to help others with disabilities

The idea came to her during one of the darkest periods of Aimee Copeland’s life. After nearly dying from a flesh-eating bacterial infection, Copeland felt crushed. To save her life, doctors had amputated both her hands, her right foot and her entire right leg. “I was feeling bad for myself, thinking I wouldn’t be able to go hiking in the woods or any of the other things I used...
Life with Gracie: How do we push past the trauma caused by Charlottesville violence?

Life with Gracie: How do we push past the trauma caused by Charlottesville violence?

Any time I broach the subject of race, I feel like I did every time I had to dissolve disputes between my daughters, which was, thinking back, much like walking on hot coals. It was certainly more complex than it first appeared. Having grown up in a family of 10 kids, I had no doubt about that. While it was always clear they were at war, the reasons weren’t always so obvious. One of them felt...
Life with Gracie: Glen Campbell’s death ‘brings Alzheimer’s out of the shadows.’ Now what?

Life with Gracie: Glen Campbell’s death ‘brings Alzheimer’s out of the shadows.’ Now what?

Sometimes Sue McCormick wonders what’s worse — caring for your loved one who’s physically impaired or one who is so cognitively impaired they no longer recognize you. As the co-owner of Synergy HomeCare in Alpharetta and the daughter of an ill parent, McCormick has seen both sides of that coin, and neither is pleasant to look at. “It’s devastating,” she said the...
Should parents force their children to submit to random drug tests?

Should parents force their children to submit to random drug tests?

You know times have changed when drug tests become part of the back to school routine. If that sounds extreme, you haven’t been keeping up with the opioid epidemic hitting our communities. It’s bad and it’s pretty scary. After years of ebbs and flow, teenage drug use has shown a steady decline, but drug addiction is still a big problem. In 2015 alone, more than 4,000 teens age 14-17...
More Stories