Last month, Catherine Davis and her Atlanta-based Georgia Right to Life organization launched a groundbreaking effort to stop the egregious number of black abortions in their state. The organization decided to use billboards to present its case for life - that's right - billboards.
The 80-billboard campaign permeates the skyscape of Atlanta. Because of its scale, the campaign is nothing less than cutting-edge innovation. The billboards read, “Black children are an endangered species.” The words encircle the face of an adorable black child. In addition to the message, the only Web address listed is “toomanyaborted.com.”
At the Website, the message is very clear. Their research and statistics are complete. The editorials are also compelling. The Georgia Right to Life group has designed a sophisticated communications vehicle. Yet, it all starts with a winsome message from the billboards. The graphics experts say that billboards can only effectively use seven words - just seven words and a visual impression. Therefore the designers tastefully showed the innocence of a beautiful black baby.
This campaign is controversial, not because of its effect on Atlanta drivers or the average Joe. Changing lives by saying, “Respect yourself!” should hardly be controversial. The controversy arises from their effectiveness as record numbers of black girls are going to their Website. Angry pro-abortion groups and Planned Parenthood have attempted to label GRTL as “deceptive.” GRTL is also accused of working against the best interests of young black women. Some even have demeaned Catherine Davis as, you guessed it, a “sell out.” Once again in opponents’ minds, the “naive black crusader” is being used by white extremists. In response to pro-abortion advocates, Davis has also been pitted against them on CNN, NPR, and in a recent New York Times article.
Despite opponents’ vitriol, GRTL's work is both tasteful and historic. How is it historic? First, its anti-abortion message is direct and hard-hitting. Second, targeting blacks so directly, without condemnation, is revolutionary. This is a major course correction in anti-abortion marketing. As a result, it is finally piercing the cultural veil over the issue of abortion in the black community.
So who is Catherine Davis?
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.