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  • Writer's pictureDarian

Ponce De Leon Library Renamed To Honor Joan Garner, Fulton County’s First Openly LGBTQ Commissioner

Even in death, Commissioner Joan Garner continues to make history. On Monday afternoon, dozens of supporters, city officials, and friends gathered outside of Ponce De Leon Library in Midtown for a renaming ceremony in honor of the late Fulton County Commissioner who passed away in 2017 after battling breast cancer. In 2011, Garner became the first openly LGBTQ+ Fulton County Commissioner, representing District 4. Now, she becomes the first Black openly LGBTQ+ person to have a Fulton County public library renamed as the Joan P. Garner Library at Ponce De Leon, in her honor.

A vision of CNP Executive Director Charles Stephens, who also served on the renaming committee that worked to secure Garner’s name on the library, he and other city leaders, including Garner’s widow Fulton County State Judge Jane Morrison, Marvin Arrington, Fulton County Board of Commissioner (District 5), and Natalie Hall, Vice-Chair, Fulton County Board of Commissioners (District 4) and Garner’s former chief of staff, were among those who spoke about the impact of Garner’s life and legacy.

“When you think about public service, Joan Garner was the example of what we all ought to aspire to be. I’m glad her name is going to live on in this building,” said Arrington.

“This is so befitting because she [Garner] loved to read and she loved community,” said Hall. “For this library to be named after her it is an honor. We live not too far from here in the Old Fourth Ward and this is one of the libraries she would come to.”

Hall, who had a successful career in IT management before becoming Garner’s chief of staff, shared how Garner had an ability to see greatness in people before they often did.

“She kept coming after me after she won her election," said Hall. "And I said that’s the craziest thing on this earth. I've been an IT manager for 20 years. What do I look like being the chief of staff? She said, ‘there’s something in you that I see and I know that you’re about community. You’re the most social IT person I’ve ever seen in my life.’ And so that’s how I became her chief of staff. I know that’s she looking down on us and she’s probably so happy right now.”

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