Updated: Apr 7
On August 19, 2021, ECO-Action hosts its first Community Conversation which features seasoned community activist, Bobbie Paul.
Bobbie Paul has spent over 25 years supporting the vision of the founder of Women’s Action for New Directions (or WAND), Dr. Helen Caldecott to gradually rid the world of nuclear weapons. Serving as Georgia WAND’s first Executive Director between 2002 and 2013, Bobbie envisioned a state-wide organization, helping to expand to engage individuals across the state of Georgia, rather than focusing solely on Atlanta. She also helped define its three areas of concentration across the state: Peace in Action, Environmental Justice, and Empowering People to Act Politically.
Bobbie’s political and environmental activism in Atlanta began in 1982, at age 33, fighting the Georgia Dept. of Transportation’s plans to build the Stone Mountain Freeway encircling the proposed Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. Bobbie became part of a multi-neighborhood coalition called CAUTION (Citizens Against Unnecessary Thoroughfares in Older Neighborhoods) and was tasked with organizing hundreds of volunteers from over eight neighborhoods to halt the construction of a 6-lane GA DOT highway that would cut through eight historic Intown neighborhoods and parks. (Neighbors won that battle in 1991, creating a compromise version known today as the John Lewis Freedom Parkway!)
As a dedicated environmental justice activist, Bobbie watch-dogged the Savannah River Site (SRS) for over 25 years and led campaigns to stop the production of 450 nuclear bomb cores at SRS in July of 2001 using her theatrical skills to stage a day long Hunt for Weapons of Mass Destruction that overpowered the Department of Energy (DOE) with hundreds of live testimonies and thousands of written testimonies from concerned citizens.
Bobbie also led the fight to restore DOE funded environmental monitoring to the state of Georgia to protect those living across the river from SRS from contamination to their wells, rainfall, leafy crops, livestock, peanuts, air, and soil. (This has still not been restored fully.)
Bobbie oversaw the Peace and Action and Environmental Justice programs at Georgia WAND since our country first attacked the people of Iraq in 2001 helping to form the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition. She instituted Georgia WAND’s yearly community event known as The REAL State of Union as a place where those concerned about our country’s march to war against Iraq could come together and support each other. REAL State featured AJC columnist/historian Jay Bookman who was a rare voice of media speaking out against the war. He was (often) joined onstage by the Reverend Joseph Echols Lowery.
Bobbie was a 2002 founding member of Stand for Peace, a weekly peace vigil in Midtown Atlanta, now entering its 19th year. It began as an attempt to influence then Senator Zell Miller not to vote for a US attack on Iraq.) Stand for Peace, although unsuccessful in stopping the US attack on Iraq, continues to convene every Friday at noon at 14th and Peachtree Streets.
A satisfying and hard fought win for the Georgia WAND extended community came when Bobbie led an 18-month grassroots effort to gain Senator Johnny Isakson’s support for the passage of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) in the U.S. Senate. working in partnership with the national disarmament and arms control community. A successful letter writing and lobbying effort at home and in DC moved Senator Isakson to go against his Republican Party’s determination to thwart everything President Obama supported as he spoke eloquently about the need for nuclear arms reduction with Russia and the treaty passed with a 71-26 vote.
Since leaving GA WAND and the 501 c 3 world, Bobbie has been involved in partisan politics supporting progressive candidates for office, mostly here in Georgia. She volunteered to support Stacey Abrams run for Governor of Georgia in 2018 and Michelle Nunn’s run for US Senate in 2014. Last year she spent months on a local effort called Run with Her, a fundraising campaign designed to elect seven lesser known Metro Area Atlanta women to the Georgia House of Representatives in the 2020 elections. (Six of the seven won their races!)
She was very active with the Democratic Party of Georgia during the 2020 campaigns (poll watching, canvassing, vote curing, early voting) and also participated in all three Fulton County recounts of the US Presidential vote tallies.
This May, Bobbie, representing Atlanta Grandmothers for Peace, organized over 200 volunteers (riding in 75 cars) to participate in the May 8th John Lewis Day of Action Voter Motorcade across Atlanta partnering with Helen Butler of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda. She was an impromptu speaker at the People’s Agenda candlelight vigil in Vine City’s Peace Park commemorating the first anniversary of John Lewis’ death on July 17, 2021.
Bobbie Paul has won the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability Grassroots Activist of the Year Award and the National WAND Janice Kelly Award. She was honored to be chosen to receive the Ebon Dooley Bridge Builder Award by the ArtsXchange in 2018. She has also received recognition from other environmental, community, political, theater, religious, anti-war and education groups. She has been a speaker on federal spending priorities, nuclear weapons and nuclear power developments around Georgia.
Bobbie served for seven years on the Steering Committee for the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, and represented WAD as a member of Concerned Black Clergy. She was on the board of of GreenLaw, a non-profit legal team that “provided Georgia’s environmental community its day in court.” She and her family joined Central Presbyterian Church 30 years ago and led the Cook Elementary School Tutoring Program for 18 years. Bobbie has served on the boards of Paideia School, Arbor Montessori School, Theatrical Outfit, CAUTION, Inc. and Dad’s Garage Theatre Company. She is also a founding member of Atlanta Grandmothers for Peace.
For the past four decades, Bobbie has provided essential support for social justice activism, community building, and voter engagement in Atlanta. She and her husband, Rod, have also raised two sons, David (39) and Andy (37) who also call Intown Atlanta home.