the histories of our streets

Georgia State University students map Atlanta's past

Tag: People

Dr. King’s Nobel Prize Banquet and Coca-Cola during the Civil Rights Era

African American integration leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., right, winner of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, receives a glass bowl inscribed to him as a “citizen of Atlanta, with respect and admiration,” from Rabbi Jacob Rothschild of the Temple Synagogue in Atlanta on Jan. 27, 1965. (AP Photo)

“African American integration leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with Rabbi Jacob Rothschild in Atlanta. January 27, 1965.” AJCP552-028b. Atlanta Journal-Constitution Photographic Archive. Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library

In January 27th of 1965, a huge dinner banquet was held in Dinkler Plaza Hotel (known as Hotel Ansley until 1953), located alongside Williams street in downtown Atlanta. The banquet was to congratulate and honor an Atlanta native who just won the Nobel Peace Prize in November 1964, the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The banquet was a huge success, and was attended by as many as 1,500 people of both black and white races. The New York Times next day reported that “the Dinkler Plaza Hotel was jammed far beyond comfortable capacity with Atlantans” who “stood and sang [We Shall Overcome], the most famous song of the civil rights movement”, and commented that the successful banquet was “symbolic of Atlanta’s attitude on race relations”.[1]

However, though it is not very well known, success of this banquet and the civil rights movement in general, were also closely tied to Coca-Cola, an Atlanta native company that became an international giant. The banquet to honor Dr. King was a symbolic incident which highlighted Coca-Cola Company’s effort to respond to a changing American society, and to the civil rights movement during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Continue reading

The Professional Career of Bobby Jones, Jr.

Despite his relatively brief career, Bobby Jones is universally recognized of one of the greatest golfers of all time. His name, in the minds of the sporting world, does not sound out of place spoken among the names of far more contemporary players such as Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods or even those whose fame and feats are even more recent than they. The same can be said for few other athletes of his time- Jones retired from golf at the age of 28 in 1930. By that time, he had won 13 major championships. In the year of his retirement, he won all four, making him the only golfer in history to win the impregnable Grand Slam. The very next year, however, he would not compete in one tournament. Wrote the great sportswriter and best friend of Jones, “the greatest competitive athlete of history closed the book, the bright lexicon of championships, with every honor in the world to grace its final chapter.”[1] And yet, Jones never made one penny from playing golf. He was always keen to remind fans that “some things were more important than winning.”[2] This decision spawned from an intense modesty for which he is famed. On several occasions, Jones called penalties on himself in major championships- penalties that would not otherwise been assessed; one of these that cost him a victory.[3] And yet his scrupulous honesty, stringent self-governance and vivacious energy to achieve were not just limited to golf.

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Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium: Mayor Allen’s Impact on Atlanta

Growing up thirty minutes outside of Atlanta has its perks. For me, the best thing about it was going to Braves games. By the age of 10, I considered myself a dedicated Atlanta Braves fan. I’d stay up late fantasizing about inviting Braves players to my birthday party or playing for the team in the big leagues. The main reason I live in Atlanta today is because those games made me fall in love with the city. Atlanta has so much life and energy so I’ve always been intrigued by its history. While Turner Field became the permanent home of the Braves following the 1996 Olympics, I never got the chance to witness a game in the Braves’ former ballpark, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Yet, the remnants of the coliseum still stand tall and firm, casting a long shadow over the infamous Turner Field ‘blue lot’ reserved for commuting fans. My passion for the Braves and curiosity of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium inspired me to identify the party responsible for bringing my favorite team to the city; that search led me to a familiar name, Ivan Allen, Jr. An individual whose impact on Atlanta stands tall and firm much like the memorial wall wrapping around the blue lot today.

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John Wesley Dobbs Plaza

Photo shot by author

Photo shot by author

Talking a walk down Auburn Avenue is an experience that many Atlanta residents and tourists have enjoyed. When walking down Auburn, it is easy to be taken aback by how beautiful the birth home of Dr. King is. It is easy for residents and tourist to stop and admire the burial site of Dr. King and his wife Coretta Scott King. Tourists and residents are blown away when they view the massive mural of civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis. With all of these civil rights giants in one small street it is easy to understand why the John Wesley Dobbs Plaza on the corner of Auburn and Fort Street does not get much attention. Hundreds of people drive or walk pass the plaza on a daily basis and yet one does not find many people stepping inside the plaza and admiring the statue of John Wesley Dobbs. The plaza is overshadowed by the presence of Dr. King’s historical site and John Lewis’ mural, which is an appropriate metaphor as to how the legacy of Mr. Dobbs has been largely forgotten by the mainstream public.

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Thomas E. Watson

Across the street from the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta lays a small enclosure at the intersection of Washington and Mitchell Street called Talmadge plaza. When you stroll past Governor Herman Tallmadge’s statue there, a twelve-foot tall bronze figure can be seen overlooking the small square. The somber epithet “Honor’s Path He Trod” is chiseled beneath the figure’s feet. It’s the statue of the infamous Southern demagogue himself, Thomas E. Watson. Continue reading

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