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In this paper or poster presentation, I will discuss my recent book, Raising Our Voices, Breaking the Chain: The Imperial Hotel Occupation as Prophetic Politics. This book, published in July 2016, tells the dramatic story of how, in June 1990, a one-day action to bring attention to rising homelessness and lack of affordable housing in Atlanta transformed into a sixteen-day occupation of the abandoned Imperial Hotel. Over 300 homeless people and their advocates, especially People for Urban Justice (PUJ), the political arm of the Open Door Community, were vital to the action.

This book is a community-engagement project: the Open Door Community, a non-profit organization in Atlanta, commissioned me to write the book for them. I will discuss the content of the book and the process of writing and publishing it for the Open Door Community.

Rev. Tim McDonald, pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church, says the book is an “authentic, powerful, moving retelling of an epic time in the history of Atlanta when the issue of homelessness was taken to another level. . . . A once-perceived voiceless and powerless people were empowered and changed the housing landscape of Atlanta. This book is a must-read for anyone who believes that the power of the people can change the discourse and direction of a city.”

In addition to discussing why PUJ and others entered the hotel, the daily activities inside the hotel during the occupation, and the terrains of power that were revealed at the conclusion of the occupation, Raising Our Voices, Breaking the Chain demonstrates how this event spurred affordable housing development in the 1990s and beyond, including the renovation of the Imperial Hotel into affordable housing in 1996, and its most recent renovation in 2014.

Research for Raising Our Voices, Breaking the Chain is drawn from oral history interviews, newspaper articles, and ephemera such as photographs, memorandum, flyers, and handwritten notes.


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • English

  • Event date
    • 11 November 2016

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Author Biography:

      Terry Easton's research and teaching focuses on identity, working-class texts, multicultural literature, immigrant narratives, and oral history. He is president-elect of the Working Class Studies Association. His 2006 dissertation on day laborers in Atlanta won the 2007 Constance Coiner dissertation award of the Working Class Studies Association.