By Katina VanKronkhite
Long time East Atlanta resident and community activist Beth-Ann Buitekant, 76, passed away on August 22. During the almost forty years she resided in East Atlanta, she was passionately engaged both in neighborhood and city-wide issues of social justice and racial and gender equality.
Originally from upstate New York, Beth-Ann received a B.S. in Nursing from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1968. During this tumultuous decade of social change, she became actively involved in the U.S. anti-war and Black freedom movements. Her passion and activism for justice issues continued when she moved to Atlanta in 1981 and to East Atlanta in 1984.
In 1985, she founded and hosted “Just Peace,” a weekly radio talk show on WRFG-FM which continues today. After earning a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the Georgia School for Professional Psychology, Beth-Ann became a counselor at the Friends School of Atlanta and established a private family therapy practice which she continued until 2021.
Beth-Ann believed that changes and advancements in justice and equality began with the family, which she called the ultimate grassroots organization. She let her involvement flow organically and from there into her East Atlanta neighborhood. In the community’s early revitalization days in the 1980s, she was known for hiring neighborhood people in need to do odd jobs, even those she suspected of previously burgling her home.
Beth-Ann’s daughter Ruby-Beth said her mother was the definition of a community leader. She was never scared to try something, even if she knew she wasn’t an expert. She was always ready to do what was necessary. In the early 2000s, as the neighborhood was seeking a new location for its library, Beth-Ann worked to find viable properties, rejecting suggested plans to acquire property through eminent domain and the possibility of unjust compensation.
Later, when a developer sought to build a cell tower on her residential street, she joined other community activists and prevented the tower from being erected. More recently, she participated in discussions around diversity and inclusiveness with the East Atlanta Business Association.
Beth-Ann coped with multiple health problems during her life, and several health emergencies required first responder assistance. The personal experiences that brought the firefighters of East Atlanta Station 13 to her door motivated her to begin Friday Food for Firefighters in 2010. The program was her thank-you and a way for the community to show their ongoing appreciation for first responders through a weekly meal delivered to the station.
On August 10, Beth-Ann and her East Atlanta residence were featured on the premier episode of Netflix’s “Instant Dream Home.” Beth-Ann was nominated by her daughter Ruby-Beth and son-in-law Taylor Grandchamp to receive the show’s home renovation in honor of her decades of community activism. Before her passing less than two weeks after the show’s initial airing, Beth-Ann was able to welcome her first grandchild Lazuli Jaq into the East Atlanta home and neighborhood she had loved so well for so many years.