Does Buckhead Really Want To Leave Atlanta? A Butter.ATL Analysis

Mike JordanApril 27, 2021

Buckhead skyline

You’ve probably noticed that Buckhead, a neighborhood some might say already thinks of itself as separate from Atlanta, has been acting a little bit bougie lately. Word on Peachtree is that the upscale commercial district, where Lenox Mall and Phipps Plaza attract big-spending consumers of all colors, is thinking of seceding from this city folks like saying is too busy to hate. 

What’s the main issue sending that spicy secesh energy from ATL’s upscale northeastern residential and retail district toward City Hall? That would be, you know, “crime.” 

“Crime is both a real and perceived threat and is contributing to a sense of decline among older and long-time residents,” according to the 2020 State of Buckhead Study, commissioned by the nonprofit organization Liveable Buckhead and published in March.

The study quotes anonymous residents giving their thoughts on crime in Buckhead. One respondent complained about drag racing, while another recommended more policing of gas stations. One person quoted demanded reforms in criminal courtrooms, saying “There is no fear of incarceration or fines currently, so our streets are being overrun by vandals, criminals & menaces to our society.”

The study was completed in December 2020. And as you probably have heard over the past several weeks and months, there’s been plenty of talk about what exactly might happen if the “Beverly Hills of the South” becomes (again) its own municipality. 

Will it happen though? Probably not. And even if so, well, if you think you’re lonely now, wait until tonight, girl. And here are a few reasons why.

Racism loses power if Buckhead voters are no longer counted in elections.

Remember how Buckhead wasn’t always part of ATL proper, until Mayor Hartsfield annexed the town back in the day? Nah? Oh shit; peep game:

“In recent years a large share of Atlanta’s “good, white home owning citizens” had relocated to Buckhead and other nearby suburbs upsetting the racial balance within the city limits. Without annexation, he worried, the city’s black residents could become a “potent political force” in city politics. Indeed, metropolitan growth outside the city limits outpaced that of the central city as early as the 1920s, while the 1946 abolition of the white primary dramatically enhanced the influence wielded by black voters in municipal affairs.”

That quote is from a letter Hartsfield sent to “select residents of Buckhead,” in 1943. Nobody is outchea just blindly accusing a former Atlanta mayor of being racist without proof, mind you.

The factual rumor is that Buckhead was happy to join Atlanta because there was concern that Black voters were putting White voters in too small of a minority for comfort/power. And look how the turns have tabled… 

Buckhead City would be super-white.

We don’t say that to say anything bad about White people, but separating itself from Atlanta would make Buckhead like, really, really white. Prairie-Home-Companion-white. Dick-Cheney-white. How is that going to look in this modern and diverse day and age? Not that money ever cares how anything looks, but golly, would that not be a situation to explain: White residents of a successful, majority-Black city in the South decide they’d rather build a psychological wall to separate themselves from… people. Their neighbors. How do you think Atlantans would react? Would there not be a coordinated campaign in which Black Atlantans, and people of conscience from all around the world, stop supporting businesses that require a safe distance from them, but will accept their money through the bulletproof glass of a fake city limit barrier? 

Taking your diamond-encrusted kickball across the new city limits doesn’t stop the bully from following you home.

That’s you with that new municipality, ha? You thought you could step over this imaginary line and I can’t come, ha? You feeling pretty, ha? Oh, so you’re “Buckhead City” now, ha? You think crime will hit an invisible shield once you’re not paying Atlanta taxes, ha? You gotta pay more taxes to get a police force, ha? They can’t be everywhere, ha? You done got surrounded outside the St. Regis by them outta-town goons again, ha? 

The name can’t just be “Buckhead.”

You know there’s already a Buckhead in Georgia, right? No, not Bankhead… There’s a town whose highway exit you’ve surely passed if you were leaving ATL heading for Augusta. It appears that there are no more than 200 people there, but hey, when you’re first, you’re first, and your name is your name.

The vote wouldn’t happen until November 2022.

That’s notable, because that’s also when Georgia will decide if Brian Kemp will remain governor, assuming he runs for reelection. Maybe he’s itching for another fight after this whole idiotic voting law that just passed with a little help from his friends. Or maybe he’s smart and will play it a little more safely with a legislative punt. But then again, any vote from Buckhead residents to leave Atlanta and start a new city would have to be approved by Georgia’s governor. And if Kemp doesn’t win, which he might not, who do you think will? And what might she do, assuming it’s a woman governor? 😉

TL;DR: We put some links below for you to read, because we know time is shawt, and the malls are closing at 7. Get your retail-therapy-needing ass over to Phipps before the armed guards pull down that chain-link storefront gate on you. Those racist $800 jeans ain’t gonna buy themselves, you know…

But hey Buckhead — last thing: If you’re trying to live in a better and greater Atlanta, this might not be the way.

Maybe keep in mind that crime rose by big numbers across the country last year, especially in big cities. Not just Atlanta, and not just in your neighborhood.

Maybe remember that Atlanta’s modern success — the last 50 years — has been under Black mayoral leadership. It hasn’t steered us wrong so far.

Maybe remember that those OutKast t-shirts represent street credibility and culture that Buckhead hasn’t had in a long time. When you borrow that, you should give something back instead of try extracting money, value and population.

And maybe remember that Atlanta was wide open, unlike many other major cities, thanks to your governor. Remember that the mayor didn’t agree but you know, rank.

That said, we’ll keep shopping online until y’all get that security situation at Lenox under control. Just sayin’.


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.A bill would carve ‘Buckhead City’ out of Atlanta. Here’s what could happen next.11 hours ago

Crime & Anxiety in the Beverly Hills of the South

Buckhead’s push to break from Atlanta advances, but is it the right move?

Atlanta’s Crime Wave Makes Some Residents Look to the Suburbs

Buckhead Crime Statistics, per FBI data (AreaVibes)

What Would Buckhead City Look Like? We Crunched the Numbers (AJC)