Entries by Jamil Zainaldin

Rich’s and the 1960 presidential election

This week, JEREMY KATZ, of the Breman Museum, recounts the role of Rich’s Department Store in the civil rights movement and its impact on the 1960 presidential election.

By Jeremy Katz

On February 22nd and February 26th, the Breman Museum will lead a Civil Rights Trolley Tour to several sites throughout downtown Atlanta related to Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement. One of the stops is outside the location of the former Rich’s Department Store where the famous clock is still affixed to what is now a federal building on the corner of Alabama and Broad Street. According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, Rich’s represents the quintessential shopping experience of 20th-century Atlanta.

Jeff Clemmons, an expert on the history of Rich’s who will be leading one of the tours, places recognizes the store’s significance in leveling the nation’s history. In his book, Rich’s: A Southern Institution, Clemmons asserts that John F. Kennedy would not have won the 1960 election against Richard Nixon if it were not for a sit-in held at Rich’s flagship downtown store.

Racial equity in the arts

This week, on the 115th anniversary of Langston Hughes’s birth, STANLEY ROMANSTEIN, of Georgia State University, reflects on the need for racial equity in the arts.

By Stanley Romanstein

Ninety years have passed since the poet Langston Hughes gave voice to the hope for a more inclusive and equitable America. Nine full decades, but for many people of color looking for a place at the table in America’s arts communities, “tomorrow” has yet to arrive.

Stories from near and far at the 2017 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival

In this column, members of Georgia Humanities and their colleagues take turns discussing Georgia’s history and culture, and other topics that matter. Through different voices, we hear different stories.

This week, BOB BAHR, of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, reveals the films that will entertain, educate, and challenge viewers in 2017.

When an influential group of Jewish community leaders first came together to begin planning an ambitious new film festival nearly two decades ago, they weren’t quite sure what to call it. Eventually they settled on a simple, straightforward title that seemed to best describe their project: the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.

Only 1,900 tickets were sold in 2000, the first year, but in the intervening years their new project grew to become one of the largest events of its kind in the world.

This year organizers hope to sell around 40,000 tickets from January 24 to February 15 and hope to settle in as the world’s largest Jewish film festival. It’s an extraordinary event that lists 75 films with 202 screenings at seven Atlanta-area theaters.

Georgia’s rural churches – historic treasures or relics of the past?

This week, SONNY SEALS, author of Historic Rural Churches of Georgia, a co-publication of Georgia Humanities and the University of Georgia Press, discusses his efforts to save Georgia’s rural churches.

By Sonny Seals

Georgia is blessed with hundreds of rural churches that represent a unique way to look at 18th and 19th century Georgia history. Indeed, they tell the story of a time when virtually all of Georgia was rural — the story of where we came from, how we got here and who we are.

What makes an athlete great: talent, training, chance?

This week, ALLISON HUTTON, program coordinator at Georgia Humanities, examines the stories of Georgia athletes as she ponders what makes an athlete great. This is part six in a series of sports stories in association with Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America, a traveling Smithsonian exhibition sponsored by Georgia Humanities.

By Allison Hutton

Last summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro captured the public’s attention and imagination with stories like those of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, the “final five,” who easily clinched the all-around gold medal. Gymnastics is a sport dominated by the young, which makes the years of intense training required to reach the sport’s upper echelon all the more remarkable. The countless hours spent learning and practicing have something to do with Olympic achievement, but athletes’ stories often reveal a moment early in an athlete’s career when he or she is at the right place at the right time and a coach or expert identifies an innate talent. A child prodigy is born.

Sharing and saving family stories

This week, VAISHALI and AISHVARYA PRAHALAD encourage families to share their stories with each other through GrandStories, a book created to make that process a fun and easy one.

By Vaishali and Aishvarya Prahalad

Our parents once sent us to the library to check out books on Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. Instead, we came home with an epiphany.

We wondered, “Why should only famous people have their own biographies?” We personally know more about Taylor Swift and Albert Einstein than our grandfather. We realized that there should be an easy way for ordinary, everyday heroes to easily compose their own biographies, so we wrote down a list of questions and interviewed our grandparents who live in India. It was amazing how much we learned about them.

Traditions of health, wellness, and athletics develop Spelman students’ minds, bodies, and souls

This summer we shared the story of Marian Armstrong-Perkins and the young athletes she coached to Olympic victory in the 1950s and 60s. These women are part of a longer tradition of African American women’s participation in organized athletics in Atlanta. This week, HOLLY SMITH, of Spelman College, introduces Spelman’s rich history of athletics and wellness programs, spanning a century and beyond.

As with many archival treasures, the discovery of the photo happened serendipitously. Anika, a Spelman Archives student assistant, was sorting loose materials when she came across an image of 13 Spelmanites posing with a basketball. Each young woman was identified on the front of the image, and it was noted they were attending a sports rally in 1915. Kassandra Ware, the archives assistant, posted the image on the archives Facebook page, and we subsequently received a record number of “likes.”

Julius Rosenwald gave the gift of education to rural African American communities

Where did Congressman John Lewis, age 77, learn to read? In a Rosenwald school. Where did the great poet Maya Angelou, who died at the age of 86, get her schooling? In a Rosenwald school. This is the story of the philanthropic origins of the Rosenwald schools, built in the early 20th century in rural African American communities across the South.

The common roots of philanthropy and democracy

“Philanthropy” is a familiar word in the English language. It has roots in ancient Greek and means “love of mankind.”

Philanthropy is not quite the same thing as the more traditional “charity,” which is a commandment of all the world’s great religions to care for the poor and disadvantaged.

Philanthropy, as the ancient Greeks understood it, was “love of humanity.” It was not a duty to the less fortunate as charity is. It was for the benefit of the public as a whole — all the people.

The Atlanta Music Festival reprises one of the city’s great traditions

This week, GARY HAUK, university historian and senior adviser to the president at Emory University, reflects on the Atlanta Music Festival and its tradition of building unity through the arts.

By Gary Hauk

It’s a little-known secret that while Atlanta may have been “the city too busy to hate,” it has also been, for more than a century, a city too cultured to divide. The people have come together for art and music, theater and dance, just as much as for any baseball game or gridiron rivalry. The arts have brought together Atlantans from every neighborhood who otherwise might have little occasion to gather.

The book festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center has made Atlanta a great place to learn, grow, and reflect for 25 years

This week, ALLISON HUTTON, of Georgia Humanities, reflects on the impact of the book festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta.

From the Civil War to the boll weevil to the civil rights movement, the Atlanta we know today was anything but inevitable. In the late 19th century, New South boosters like newspaper editor Henry W. Grady believed that industry and education could help Atlanta grow and prosper. Buy-in from other Atlantans wasn’t enough, though. The city’s boosters knew they needed to share its potential with investors from the North. This initially happened through events like fairs and expositions. In the 20th century, it happened through marketing campaigns, notably Forward Atlanta, and investments in the city’s cultural life.

The story of a stunt pilot who became an unsung war hero

This week, ALLISON HUTTON, of Georgia Humanities, shares the story of Georgia aviatrix Hazel Raines and her contributions to World War II.

The Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame calls Hazel Raines the “First Lady of Flight.” This is an accurate description on many counts: Raines was the first woman in Georgia to earn a pilot’s license (in the late 1930s), one of the first group of women chosen by the British Air Transport Auxiliary as ferry pilots for the Royal Air Force in 1942, as well as one of the first WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots).

During the Korean War, Raines was the first female reserve pilot called into active duty.

Auburn Avenue Research Library offers resources for and by the community

This week, in honor of Georgia Archives Month, REBECCA SHERMAN, project archivist at Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, explores the newly renovated Auburn Avenue Research Library.

When the AARLreopened its doors this past August, the library’s staff and supporters envisioned the newly renovated space as an ideal location for hosting community cultural events. On Oct. 11, this vision came to fruition when a crowd gathered there for an event that highlighted collaborations between academic institutions, public libraries, and community organizations.

Sharing and saving community stories

This week, SHANEE’ MURRAIN, University Archivist at the University of West Georgia, explains how the university library’s Special Collections department empowers communities to tell their own stories.

As a recent transplant to the area and as the University Archivist harged with capturing, preserving, and making accessible content that is administratively and culturally significant to the University of West Georgia campus, I delight in hearing folk thoughtfully share the stories of their lives.

Uncovering hidden history

This week, ELYSE HILL, a professional genealogist, shares the stories of African American lives she’s uncovered in the archives.

As a genealogy researcher I’m always looking for records and documents that provide unique information about the lives of African Americans in the South. I’ve been fortunate to have found some interesting information about pre-Civil War free and enslaved persons in various resources housed in various archives. These stories offer a glimpse into the lives of African Americans and range from before the Civil War, when most were enslaved, to the war itself, to freedom.

Lessons learned from football — the Willie Davis effect

This week, BILL CURRY, a former NFL football player and college coach, shares how interracial friendship and cooperation on the football field changed his life. This is part four in a series of sports stories in association with “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America,” a traveling Smithsonian exhibition sponsored by Georgia Humanities.

In light of recent events that have traumatized every person of good will, and in the spirit of our “Hometown Teams” exhibition, I would like to relate a story about a football team, a terrified youngster, and a great man.

Shakespeare and the business model that made his plays must-reads

This week, in anticipation of the arrival of Shakespeare’s First Folio in Atlanta, JUSTIN SHAW, a graduate student at Emory University, shares the stories of the first four Shakespeare folios and their place in seventeenth-century culture.

What is the big deal with Shakespeare’s Second Folio (1632)? Or the Third (1663/4) or Fourth (1685) for that matter? For starters, they tell us about English print culture and help us understand the rise of Shakespeare from a producer of popular entertainment to a literary icon known the world over.