A change is coming to our column. At the end of January I will retire from Georgia Humanities after 20 years of service as president, and thus “Jamil’s Georgia” will come to a close. My time with Georgia Humanities has given me strong memories. I have traveled across the state many times, and visited (it seems) almost every community.
A shocking act of violence stirred, or "woke," a sense of justice in her. Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin, a daughter of the post-Civil War South and member of a prominent Georgia family, chose to challenge her society and its beliefs about women and race. Born 120 years ago this week, Lumpkin could claim a heritage that extended back to Georgia’s antebellum planter elite, and included a governor, judge, state supreme court justice, and founder of the University of Georgia law school (not to mention a county named in honor of her family). The Lumpkins also contributed sons to the Confederacy’s war effort and, like their planter neighbors, experienced the war’s aftermath as a personal and economic catastrophe.
Many would contend that to “learn history” in school is a waste of time. That kind of knowledge, as the saying goes, won’t get you a job. It may be true, but the greatest threat to our future is forgetting who we are and what brought us here.
We live on building blocks created by earlier generations, whatever we may think about our own present-day accomplishments. Unless we know how we got here, we can’t truly appreciate all that we have. Memory imposes a responsibility on the living. Consider the Georgia story of the Chubb family, the ancestors of a very talented University of Georgia football player who has already earned his own place in the history of college football — Nick Chubb.
This week, CHRISTOPHER LAWTON, of the Georgia Virtual History Project, recalls the life and impact of an unusual storyteller and storykeeper, who was a living link with Sapelo Island's past. Cornelia Walker Bailey of Sapelo Island passed away on October 15, 2017. Her death is a devastating blow to all Georgians concerned with how we tell our story, understand ourselves, and plot our future. Like all of Sapelo’s people, she traced her roots to those who were brought to the island through the slave trade approximately 200 years ago. She was a descendant of Bilali Muhammed, an educated and literate Muslim from the west coast of Africa, and his wife, Phoebe.
This week, DAVID MARTIN, former director of the Georgia Council on Economic Education, shares the story of Michael Mescon and his efforts to expand private enterprise education worldwide. Mescon created the first Chair of Private Enterprise at a higher education institution at GSU in 1963. He also created the Georgia State Center for Business and Economic Education (a forerunner of the Georgia Council on Economic Education ) to work with area teachers.
This week, LAURA MCCARTY, of Georgia Humanities, tells the story of Olympic sprinter and Vietnam veteran Mel Pender. To a list of effective leaders in Georgia, I would add Melvin Pender of Kennesaw, whose name may be unknown to many, but whose deeds as a veteran, Olympic champion, and leader in business and civic affairs speak to the best of the American promise and Georgia motto, “wisdom, justice, and moderation.”
When we think of Cobb County today, a variety of impressions come to mind. Historically, its development is inseparable from the state’s as a whole. Yet we may not, however, associate Cobb County with a leading role in nuclear weapons delivery and cold war. This story begins with the B-29 Superfortress. Even before the United States declared war on Japan in 1941, thereby entering World War II, the Boeing Aircraft Company had begun designing a bomber that could meet the challenging requirements of a Pacific war. The Army Air Forces needed a plane that could fly fast at high altitudes and long distances and deliver a large payload. The extraordinary Boeing B-29 provided the solution.
Leadership, this greatly admired trait, once commonly applied exclusively to male war heroes or politicians or industrial leaders, is now generally recognized as a gift or skill that also includes women, men, and young people from the highest rungs of the corporate ladder to one’s immediate family. True leadership is the story of success, not for one’s self, but for others.
This week, JASON BUTLER, a teacher at DeKalb Early College Academy, and his student SYDNIE COBB discuss their experience studying D-Day and visiting Normandy, France, as part of the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute, a program of National History Day. National History Day is a nonprofit educational organization that offers year-long academic programs for junior high and high school students to conduct original research on historical topics. By Jason Butler and Sydnie Cobb Butler: “I have a question about your Normandy Institute application,” the voice on the phone said. “Sure. What is it?” I asked, wondering if my careful proofreading had somehow been lacking. Then the bombshell: “Do you want to go?” she asked. My mind started racing. World War II… D-Day… Washington, D.C… France… Sydnie and I were in! This was December 15, 2016, and I had only a vague idea of what we were in for.
Maria is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state. Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.