tv Race Class Politics in Modern Atlanta CSPAN March 30, 2018 6:34pm-8:02pm EDT
public service by america's cable television companies and today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> next, georgia state university professor maurice hobson talks about his book "the legend of the black mecca, politics and class and the making of modern atlanta" looking at the history of atlanta's black community from the 1970s to the 1990s. from the atlanta history center, this is an hour and 25 minutes. >> good evening. i'm sheffield hill, president of the atlanta history center. i want to welcome you tonight to this lecture featuring dr. maurice hobson. this lecture is made possible by
the generous support of the lucy rucker aiken foundation. dr. hobson will discuss his new book, the legend of the black mecca, politics and class in the making of modern atlanta. while there's a long, strong history of black achievement in atlanta, dr. hobson uses newly discovered sources, oral histories and even popular culture to explore the black community in atlanta, particularly those who are left poor and destitute due to the coalition between the white business interests and the black political leadership. quoting from the book, the legend of the black mecca tells an intraracial history of atlanta that details black political and class tensions in the modern era, modern urban south. the book further explores how ideology and institutional nature of the black mecca factored in atlanta becoming a world class city. dr. hobson is an associate professor of african-american studies and historian at georgia
state university. through his research he's cultivated a new lens for analysis called the new black south, which examines how policies that came out of the civil rights movement politically transformed the american south. please join me in welcoming dr. maurice hobson. >> good evening. please permit me some time to set up my computer screen. it's a pleasure to be here tonight and i want to thank the staff of the atlanta history center for this opportunity. i am in high cotton being here at the atlanta history center. it's a good place to be. tonight i will be presenting just some words from my book, titled the legend of the black mecca, politics and class in the
making of modern atlanta. i want to share something about the title of the book. initially, when the book was in press at the university of north carolina, there were conversations around changing the title of the book to the myth of the black mecca. one of the things i told the editors, i said well, i don't think that that's fair because atlanta is a unique place, and so i said if you say the myth of the black mecca, that would make it impossible for me to stay and live in the city. i said i identify as black. there are good people in this city and as a result, i named it the legend of the black mecca partially because i am a former college athlete and when i get back with my guys from college in terms of the football guys get together, even though, you know, we tell the truth about stories, if we embellish it just a little bit, it's a better story. so one of the stories that we often talk about is my senior year of college, we played the university of tennessee. peyton manning was there and
they had a linebacker by the name of wilson. i was running around the end and got out of bounds but the story i tell is i jumped over 20 university of tennessee volunteers and dove into the end zone. we know that that's not true, but it just sounds better. so one of the things we are going to discuss tonight is that there is some truth to this. there's some truth to every legend. however, at some point, it is embellished. history is a weapon with an interdisciplinary approach, black history's focus on the major issues involved in the study of worldwide black experience, both objective issues being analyzed in the research and literature and the subjective issues of how black people think about their experience. studied and interpreted wisely, it can help defend, inspire, protect and unify. if history is ignored, forgotten
or misconstrued, it can in part be a miseducation of a people that will have them going to the back door when they are permitted to go to the front. of all of our studies, history is so very important not only because it is a vital means to the cognition of and solution to many of the problems that beset us, but because it is at its heart and soul an aspect of liberation. a major aspect in my development as a scholar activist in history is steeped in public history. avenues in which history can be of service and listens to the precise needs of black communities and challenges these communities to broaden their own senses of boundaries and exclusiveness. perhaps public history and service is more of a spirit that sees historical scholarship as a part of the larger scope that
includes academic and nonacademic entities as well as various components of the public at large. my interest as a scholar activist and servant is guided by commitment to the preservation and dissemination of black heritage, history and culture in particular, and the african diaspora heritage in history in general. as a servant of history i strive to construct a context where the public has the opportunity to produce critical knowledges that consequently enable them to become critical citizens. i organize my service so that it provides the public with the opportunity to challenge, explore and construct relationships between personal experiences, community experiences, and public policy. in this, the world is our classroom and our classroom is the world. this is a 17-year-old maurice hobson.
this is my best friend's 1977 cutlass supreme. i grew up in selma, alabama, home of the voting rights act of 1965, and in 1994, a group from atlanta outcasts dropped their first album and i would ride through the city of selma, alabama blasting outcast from the back seat of a boom box because my friend's car had an eight track player and nobody made eight tracks. to me, this was rebel music. it spoke to some serious things and i thought the music was exceptional. and we will talk about that a little bit later. but on march 5th, 1995, was the first time that i was able to meet outcast. if you know anything about selma's history, march 5, 1995 marks the 30th celebration of the bridge crossing jubilee known as bloody sunday. outcast did a concert in selma.
i had the opportunity to interact with them and thought it was the coolest thing in the world. i went on to college that following year and an album dropped that spoke in a very similar kind of fashion and discussed some very interesting -- gave some very interesting context about atlanta's rise to olympic city. it made me really become critical about how we understand the urban south. what a pivot for a second. look at this gentleman here. this is w.e.b. dubois. i want to read something to you and we will get this thing started. on september 18th, 1990, the international olympic committee selected atlanta, georgia as the host city for the centennial olympics. a product of visionary leadership of black mayors jackson and andrew young, this
achievement signaled a moment for a southern city that only 25 years before had reeled from urban rebellions, where poor black atlantans took to the streets to air grievances over police brutality and poor living conditions. nearly two decades had passed since maynard jackson ascended to the mayor's office thanks to an unprecedented coalition of black atlantans and the city's white progressive voters and winning the right to host the olympics, atlanta had scored a tremendous public relations victory. the city's boosters now flashed the hotlanta nickname marketed by the atlanta convention bureau, and different trade and tourist administrations to lay claim that atlanta had outgrown its status as regional capital of the south, transcending the region and history. after a massive intervention or reinvention, it had arrived as the deep south's newest and most modern world class and international city.
yet the fruits of this success were not and have never been shared equal. poor blacks had benefited little from the events of the previous two decades. atlanta's poor and working class reaped few material rewards from the recreation of atlanta leading up to the centennial olympics, as black and white political and business elites polished and perfected atlanta's new image for world consumption, they remained trapped by poverty and neglect, a divide between the black elites and the black poor that had always riven atlanta's social fabric had become inseparable as black city governments pursued policies that benefited the white and black elites to the exclusion of the vast majority of black citizens that had brought them to power. this multi-media presentation examines these contradictions as they emerged and deepened over the course of atlanta's 20th century history in this period. through archival research, oral
interviews and musical analysis, it will demonstrate how elected and appointed black political king makers capitalize on the support of the broader black electorate to rise to power only to divert resources, policies and attention away from the black rank and file of black atlanta towards a new political machine. they had to play politics. it was necessary to do so. the contradictions are relatively small -- of a relatively small black elite writing off the needs and history of large portions of black atlanta all together represent an ongoing effect seen as a result of the centennial olympiad. if you are alive and well, you are paying attention to social media, i'm sure that you have seen an onslaught of hash tags such as hash tag wakanda, proud black folk. in recent days, i'm sure you will see a lot more in the
future, the overwhelming white and conservative critics have attempted to discredit this film, "the black panther" and cannot understand why black people are so moved by what whites perceive as a fictive destination, a nation so powerful that it thrives, and its isolationist policies protect it from anti-black racism. in all truths, these critics miss the point and are ignorant to the fact that black communities in the americas are all contrived. fictive communities forced to pawn our people at the hands and greed of capitalism where africans stolen from different parts of the continent unknowing of the vastness of the different ethnic nations, forced to come together under oppression, combine all of these african practices to create blackness, not lets insert atlanta. atlanta's notoriety as a black
mre mecca is based on black education, black economics, the urban district and west hunter street district, now martin luther king, and black political empowerment in electoral politics. just as the film black panther has forced the black world to have some real conversations about ourselves, the legend of the black mecca does so as well. i acknowledge in this that atlanta represents the highest achievements for black folks in this country. for more than a century. yet complicate the black mecca troep by cultivating counter narratives, black histories, from atlanta's underbelly as the city rose to world class fame and for clun tune by tapping un voices deep within atlanta's marginalized communities. this is w.e.b. dubois. the famous scholar moves to the city in 1897 to run a center that studied black life at atlanta university. upon coming to atlanta he noticed the hustle and bustle of the city and this is what he
wrote in his chapter of the souls of black folk. that's not a misspelling. he said they of atlanta turn resolutely toward the future and that future held aloft purple and gold, atlanta, queen of the cotton kingdom, atlanta, gateway to the land of the sun, atlanta, the new legacies which means the measurement for success. so the city crowned her hundred hills with factories and stored the shops with cunning handywork and the nation talked of her striving. dubois presents atlanta as a unique place for black folk. a very spirited place. an opportunity coming out of the new south where black folk could actually be in charge. then he begins to look closely and he compares the city of atlanta to atalanta, a greek
goddess that would only matter a man who could beat her in a foot race. men would come from throughout the countryside to win letter hand in mrarnarriage. she would defeat tlem ahem and would be put to death. one suitor really wants to marry her so he goes to an old scribe and says what can i do to distract her so i can win her hand in marriage. he says why don't you lay three golden apples along the course of the race. so i would suggest that someone brought them together and they got to the starting line and they would say get on your mark, get set, go and they shot the gun, whatever, whatnot. this is what dubois writes. she flailed like a slad oh paused, started over the first apple but even as he stretched his hand, fled again, hovered over the second, then slipping from his hot grasp, flew over the river, but lingered over the third. his arms fell around her and looking on each other, the passion of their love profaned
the sanctuary of love and they were cursed. then dubois writes something that is extremely incriminating. he says if atlanta be named for ade atlanta, and it is a city with greed and not morality. i am not here to talk bad about the city of atlanta. i love this city. i have to live in this city, but one of the things that i often talk about is that it's okay to be critical of things that you love and so with this being said, i want to set some things straight before we move forward. i realize that there are some historians in the room and so i have to start history for a second. i have to lay down some rules. this particular book speaks to several different historiographies including the long civil rights movement, history of the new african urban history and the african-american
cultural resistance and the class formation and stratification, and it embodies several theoretical frameworks and urban theory and political economy, neoliberalism and the culture of poverty. so now that i lay it out that i'm not just up here talking, let's get to it. one of the things that i feel is necessary to discuss is that the bigger conversation around atlanta speaks to a conversation that i've coined the black new south. often times we hear stories where atlanta is positioned as a civil rights battleground city. even dr. king knew this wasn't the case. this was part of -- of how he understood the american south, but the truth of the matter, the conversation around the black and the south and there are a lot of debates going on in the field of history are based on two things. the first is the civil rights act of 1964 which buttresses the 14th amendment and grants equal protection and due process under the law coming out of birmingham
which grants citizenship. the second is the voting rights act of 1965 coming out of selma that buttresses the 16th amendment and grants universal suffrage. what's particularly interesting about this is those two pieces of legislation create a new movement called the black new south and it's something that we must pay attention to because it's that kind of movement that produces an atlanta as a black mecca. now i want to fast forward a little bit. this is a picture of maynard jackson that says king of the south. this is something they pulled from the archives, and i am grateful to maynard jackson's family, william and buzzy who are here today for giving me pictures for this manuscript. this is a picture of maynard jackson on the day that he becomes the first black man of the city. jackson was a fifth-generation
georgian. his paternal grandfather was the founder of wheat street baptist church. andrew jackson was the founder of wheat street baptist church in 1969 and his maternal grandfather was the highest-ranking black mason in all of georgia. he was a mail carrier and he was on the morehouse board of trustees. he raised money for the college. what's particularly interesting is all of them get masters sdgs and irene dobbs jackson receives a ph.d in french from the university of toulouse. he came from a very influential family, but they were not rich. this is a very important distinction. what happens is maynard jackson graduates from high school at 15 and enters morehouse college. he later goes to boston to law school and doesn't work out and so he ends up going to north carolina's central college's law school which is north carolina's central university and it is there that he meets bunny hayes
who becomes bunny jackson and so what you see here is the day that he's elected. there's an interesting story behind this. in 1968 maynard and bunny had a daughter by the name of brook that had taken her to lewisberg, north carolina and maynard comes back to the city to tell him that he's want interested in running for political office and robert f. kennedy is assassinated at the time and he decides that he'll run for the u.s. senate against herman talmage. you know, that's interesting. the talmage family was one of the greatest southern oligarchs, staunch segregationists and the thing about it is maynard decided to do so without seeking the endorsement of the black political kingmakers from the atlanta negro voters' league which was in 1946 by his grandfather, john, wesley dobbs
and in doing so he really he had crossed the kingmakers in a particular way, but in his senatorial race he carries atlanta, but he loses greatly within the state and it becomes clear that he can carry vote it is. so in 1969 without going to the black political kingmakers again, he decides that he's going to run for vice mayor, and he's able to win. what this does is it sets a course in 1974 he runs against the first jewish mayor in the city and he wins and he becomes the city's first black mayor. he does all of this without ever asking his wife bunny and as she says it, it dissolved their marriage, and one of the things she will say about his ministry is his actual ministry was politics. she recognized there was something unique about him in
this particular way. there are four things that maynard did that were really useful. five things. i'm sorry. first crime was in the city, and he worked to brought crime levels down. he expanded marta. this was a major feat for the city. he gave 45% of city contracts to minority contractors. contractors received .3% of any of the contracts so he produced a lot of millionaires. he expanded the hartsfield airport. this becomes a major hub for the world, and then he creates the neighborhood planning units and city neighborhoods which allowed for black people to come to the table when urban renewal and gentrification took place in the city. however, there are two things that made him somewhat questionable within the black community. the first was the firing of the sanitation workers which one of the things that becomes clear in
understanding his work is that there was a difference between activism and governing. as mayor, was there some quagmires taking place in the city and he felt that the ask me union was being used as a political pawn. however, the belief and the mishandling of the atlanta child murders. i'm going to take some time to sit down on this right now because there are a lot of folk out here discussing the atlanta child murders, but they haven't really grappled with a lot of the issues that are pertinent in the child murders. in jackson's second term as mayor marked the beginning of the darkest chapter in the city's history. horrendous crimes were being committed against atlanta's most vulnerable, but violent population, its black youth. these crimes known as the atlanta child murders and i use child murders because it is so
visceral. children were being murdered amounted to some of the most horrific crimes committed against black children in american history and surrounding the missing and murdered children were many questions that remain unanswered and that challenged the parameters of how this episode was presented and played out in the public. this would prove to be a case where interracial class tensions boiled over within atlanta's black communities and the atlanta child murders demonstrates how black, popular political sentiment toward jackson shifted from championing the cause of the working and poor to protecting atlanta's national and international commercial branding. i must say this. when you go into the maynard papers housed at the atlanta university center. every tuesday jackson would be out of the city, and if you look at president jimmy carter's papers his name would show up in washington, d.c., it was widely believed that every week he would go up and argue with
president carter to lose federal funding to solve the murder, so it's not that he was negligent. it's just as is the city's chief officer he had to be careful about how he moved. this is one of the most notorious, modern images of the city of atlanta. basically, it deals with the atlanta child murders. this is $100,000 in cash that was taken from one of the banks and presented as reward money. muhammad ali found this to be despicable, and gives $400,000 to make it a cool half million because he felt there was something that needed to be done. >> publicly, we know that the atlanta child murders supposedly took place between 1979 and 1981 and there were 29 or 30 victims. it depends on how you count. however, evidence suggests it takes place from 1975 to 1989 and there are more than 200 victims. if you get an opportunity to read the book you will see what
i mean when it comes to this. by and large, the conversation around the murders was something that was particularly unique because atlanta's city hall deemed a lot of children as hustlers and runaways and when this was done black atlanta bristled. with all of the perceived conspiracies and atlanta speculation of what happened with the victims of the atlanta child murder and all of the facts were gleaned and the interviews by police and both anonymous and clarify and interviews with the mothers and other community members about the victims. this piece compiled gives accurate data to demonstrate that most of the victims were harmless children running errands or doing odd jobs to earn spending money. i'll give you some examples of this. use of bail. at the age of his death he was 9
years old and he was the last thing on october 21, 1979. his body was found november 8, 1979 and died of asphyxiation. his hustle was he earned spending money by running errands and balancing checkbooks for his neighborhoods. at the time of his abduction he was last seen on a tobacco snuff farm. for many of us that grew up in communities that was one of the things where if the convenience store knew that your next-door neighbor loved cigarettes, they would give you the cigarettes because they knew that you were taking it back to the elder. the conditions upon his death is that he lived with his mother, brother and sister in the apartment in the mcdaniel glen housing project and was noted to be a math and science whiz enrolled in a school for gifted children. did he seem like a hustler or runaway? no. another example, luby jeter, he
was last seen in 1981 and his body was found january 5, 1981, and his death was asphyxiation and his hustle was he earned spending money by selling auto air fresheners at the lakewood shopping center. he invested his christmas money in this venture. the activities in his abduction as we know is that he was last seen selling auto fresheners at the shopping center. the conditions were that he live with his parents and four siblings in a modest, two-bedroom home in southwest atlanta. he was the youngest of five children. luby senior was a chef at the va. did it seem like he was a hustler? no. but there is an element of hustle here. let's take, for example, clifford jones. at the time of his death he was 13. he was last seen on august 20, 1980, his body was found in 1980, his death was asphyxiation
by strangulation. his hustle was that he earned spending money for redeemable cans and bottles. he would hang out at a laundromat that was known to be a liaison for pedophiles and there seemed to be some kind of activity, some kind of abuse that would go on in this laundromat, and he threatens to report the manager of this laundromat. the manager basically tells him if you don't be quiet i'm going choke you out, a scuffle ensues. the manager leaves the laundromat and a child witnesses all of this, tells the grandfather, the police show up at the laundromat and they see this body. the laundromat manager fails two polygraph tests and it's clear that there's something going on, but they drop all charges so what this suggests to black atlanta is that there was a conspiracy afoot. they were not interested in
finding this particular killer. moving on, we'll get back to that in just a second. here is mayor andrew young, former u.n. ambassador standing with president jimmy carter. andrew young was a lieutenant for dr. king. he served as congressman for the fifth district of georgia. his u.n. ambassador stepped down while talking to the palestinian liberation organization. he was elected as mayor in 1983 with 55% of the vote and with 83% of the vote respectively in 198 1981 and 1985 and young's actual might as mayor was that he had interaction with the white business elite, coca-cola, urban gentrification and foreign investors became a major piece of his platform and securing the 1988 democratic convention and
the centennial olympics were part of mayor young's tenure as mayor and the critique for him was that he had no plan for the working poor and the poor and many felt that he had no respect for the cultural preservation of atlanta's black history. what's particularly interesting in this, though, is that as mayor young moved into his mayorship, ronald reagan had taken about 80% of all of the federal dollars out of the city, and what this does was it forced a mayor young to use his u.n. contacts to get the caribbean, africa and the rest of the world to invest in the city. what we begin to see here are neo-liberal politics that begin to play out. now i want to play something for you guys. and pay attention to what you see.
>> the international olympic committee has awarded the 1996 olympic games to the city of atlanta! [ cheers and applause ] there you have it. the announcement is in. atlanta, george a will be the site of the 1996 summer olympics. what a tremendous moment going on right now at the olympic meeting there in tokyo, and of course, here in atlanta, as well. there you can see maynard jackson, former mayor andrew young just thrilled. billy payne. >> we're clear on something.
september 18, 1990, was 95 years to the day that booker t. washington gave the speech known as the atlanta compromise and it was also 84 years short of the most violent riot that took place. there's a lot that's going on at this particular time. but the needs for atlanta's olympic dream were spawned in 1975 when a handball player from the munich games approaches maynard jackson and says i believe atlanta can host the olympics. what happens is jackson is interested in this, and he calls on his good friend j. paul austin of coca-cola and j. paul austin brings 16 of the most prominent businessmen of atlanta and they vote a resounding no. we don't want the olympic, but they actually saw was that the 1972 summer games in munich were marred by 11 israeli athletes
and coaches and the organization, and the summer and the impending summer '96 games in montreal presented 30 years of debt where most of the sovereign nations in africa boycotted because they felt canada was complicit with south africa's apartheid. the summer 1980 game ms. moscow was led -- there was a u.s.-led boycott of 65 countries and so terror and debt become the issues. what we're talking about is cold war politics playing out through the olympics. however, peter uberoth, actually stakes claim and says we're going to make los angeles the olympic city so in 1978, los angeles was the only city to bid for the 1984 olympic games. tehran, iran was trying to compete for it, but it was absolute upheaval and so los angeles becomes the only city. at the hymn of all of this, and
he created the los angeles olympic organization, a committee of more than 1530 members that solved any unforeseen problems that occurred. his method to corral the los angeles chamber of commerce to sponsor the games absolved the cities of all fiscal responsibility and changed how cities presented bids for the olympics. this hubris was credited with the creation of the olympic sponsor program, thus the los angeles games were the first privately funded olympics, closing out the games with $250 million in surplus money. atlanta is paying attention to this. what happens is in 1987, billy payne, approaches mayor andy young and says i think atlanta can host the olympics. the lord told me this is god's work and we want to do this.
nationally, he thought he was talking over young's head, but what he didn't know is that andrew young had long had an affinity for the olympics. ed young's father, a dentist in new orleans, had taken him to the orpheum theater to see the 100-meter race. his father served as the dentist for boxers training for the olympics and so he did pro bono worked and young grew up understanding the olympics and understood what was going on. what happens in this is young then makes a statement and says i believe we can help atlanta's children if we do so and his wife jean childs young had served as chairwoman for the international year of the child and so what happens with this is when this becomes a part of the olympic movement, and we see the oncoming of the democratic national convention in 1988. the city of atlanta, creates the georgia amateur athletic
foundation where atlanta plays host to 40 athletic competitions and you have the bringing together of the hospitality group called the crazy atlanta nine and once the movement was presented to atlanta citizens and the olympic machine was seen as being in full throttle. with this, atlanta's win of the olympics was based on votes of african and arab olympic blocks which had been cultivated by ambassador andrew young's time, so all of africa, the caribbean, south america and asia voted for atlanta to win the bid in the final vote because they were paying homage to how they felt that young had been treated in the united nations. once this happens maynard jackson is then forced to become mayor again, and i'm not clear on this, and i can't -- i don't have documentation to prove this, but i'm not sure if he was pushed to be mayor again because he knew politics or if he really
wanted to be mayor again. there's conversation with michael lomax when he jumps out there and he pulls out at the last minute and basically maynard jackson runs for his third term and he runs basically unopposed and josa williams felt that democracy is useless if there's only one candidate running, but when jackson gets back in office he pushes his affirmative action plan because he realizes that if he doesn't do this, black people are going to lose out on the olympics. he uses eeoc policies to make sure they receive some of the olympic money and what is also happening is you have the erection of the center and the olympic ring where the business elite in coca-cola, bellsouth and suntrust drew an invisible line around the city. we'll talk about that in just a minute and what we see is the atlanta convention and visitors bureau and the university system
of georgia that gave about $160 million to olympic housing. they did so under the auspices that they may give it to the poor and homeless. it may become an opportunity for low-income housing, but we see the creation of the atlanta project by president jimmy carter. some of this meant well, but it didn't show up on the ground. so what becomes particular in this is that much of the black community saw the olympics as being a tool to take back downtown atlanta for a development. what many of them saw was they dictated black political power, thus creating what felt black public governments and one of the ways that we know this is decades leading up to 1990. you have 70,000 people that were displaced as a result of this. what we also see is from 1974 to 1984, 74% of the federal funding
was cut in the city. what i'm saying is that we are 30 years into a 40-year gentrification period and we're talking about the belt line. now, i'm going show you all something. what you're about to see is i'll let the words speak for themselves and what you will see is activist dorothy bolden. anyone who knows anything about dorothy bolden, dorothy bolden was one of the kind of women that you did not back to, when presidents, governors and mayors would see her coming they would duck. she championed for her national domestic workers union and gave uniform policies for domestic workers and she was an advocate for nine-month school years for children so she really championed the people and so she'll ask the question about a bond referendum and i'm just going to let her talk.
>> some of t >> what are some of the issues that you are fighting? >> today? i'm fighting on issues like imposing on people as a referendum. i knew it wasn't going anywhere. i told them that it wasn't going anywhere. >> so what do you think is bad about the bond referendum? >> well, they knew all that was there before they even thought about it. this is part of the money that will go to the olympics because you knew you wouldn't finance it, and the city wasn't in the condition to accept it. you got the streets that any city would have ina i state. you know that. and all of that maynard jackson said thank god, he better go back and search again and wonder
if he thanked the devil because trouble been in this thing ever since they've been coming this way, and you ain't seen the trouble yet as god rains down on them because they're always plotting. they're plotting how to get money and it will take that much money to fix those bridges, but it won't take, but a week to do it. that's stupid. it shouldn't take that much money. you had the money before to fix it. you knew what was there. everybody that done come through this city not pay a tax on anything, and move on out somewhere else. wrecking here, bring the busses in here, but you will ride the poor man to death to pay this and then they'll put a tax right here in the city and not nowhere
else. are you kidding me? you've got to be sick! and you've got no poor folks here? then who in the hell going to take that there? nobody will take that stuff laying down. i was praying for god to make me better so i'm much better, and i will roll up my sleeves. you and i will have a boxing match out here on this thing because there was no way in the world, and no communities will make them what you want them to be and man, go on. >> i won't follow her. you all heard her message, but i want to stick it, i want you to think about that analysis right there and i'm going to stick a pin in that and i'll move in a different direction and before i do so i want to bring a point. in 1990 atlanta was deemed as
the top city for crime in the united states. it had a total of 16,097 violent crimes with 231 murders, 695 rapes, 6,109 robberies and 9,062 aggravated assaults over a 25-year period from 1980 to 2005, 1990 was marked as the highest level of crime. this is the same year that atlanta wins the bid for the olympics. stock a pin in this analysis and move around. >> bunnie jackson. in 1996 bunnie jackson found first class inc., the first black woman operated p.i. firm in atlanta and one day she gets a call from donald bird. he says a group of musicians down in atlanta, i think they're really good and i want you to
get them a record contract and so what happens is buddy says, she knew who to call and she calls clarence of taboo records, and what happens in this is why don't you put them in a studio and bunnie says i don't have any money to do so, so clarence wires her $200, and they're in the studio and clarence avon likes them and he signs them. what happens here is bunnie used a political relationship that maynard had and made it a professional relationship, and in doing so this is the creation of the s.o.s. band, the soul and funk group that comes out of atlanta, and take your time, do it right and just be good to me and it's all kind of hits that come out of this. as a result of this, the funketeer, larry blackman of new york city says if you can do
that for those country boys, i'm sure that you can do something special for me. so cameo comes to the city, and this creates atlanta as the funk and soul sound. what's also taking place at this time is that maynard jackson establishes the bureau of cultural affairs that supports the arts, particularly for expressive art for atlantans and creates the atlanta jazz festival and creates grants for local artists that are interested in expressive art, and so what comes from this, as well is jimmy carter and maynard jackson work together to give tax incentives on anyone interested in the entertainment industry, and so what this does is this provides a particular kind of mechanism in atlanta that produces organized noise. so now we're back to where we started. organized noise is a production group based here in atlanta and
it's comprised primarily of rico wade, and patrick "sleepy" brown and murray, together they had thc, outkast, and been on the music scene for the last 25-plus years, and i'll let them talk to you all for a second. this is an interview that i conducted with them on october 21, 2015, as a part of the office of cultural affairs with atlanta, elevate. >> it was a blessing for one, but the actual dynamics of it was sleepy brown's father was jimmy brown from the group brick and that's a 70s funk band that was a part of, like, you knew they grew up on the side of stages and as a kid, if you saw music performed it was through live music, the sos band, cameo, different shows that he would be in so what he thought music was
making it live. now my partner amir, ray murray over here, he was, like, such a hip-hop scholar as far as studied hip-hop before hip-hop was necessarily popular in atlanta, georgia, and back from the beat street and from the african, and the organized noise sound is based on that. it's based on our love of hip-hop our thirst of live music and together we ended upcoming up with our sound which just so happened to be outkast's first album. >> so what comes from this, is the political movement that manifests itself in atlanta, but then we have a conversation around the dirty south and just as the black power movement was a political movement and black art, the black arts movement became its expressive arm, this
idea of the dirty south is the expressive arm of the black new south and when outkast and goodie mob stepped on the scene what they did was they critiqued the olympicification of atlanta. i know some of you may not be familiar. outkast were the first southern group to make it to national and international acclaim as hip-hop artists from the american south based on southern aesthetic. i'm not saying they were the first southern group, but we're talking about based on southern aesthetic ask com poised of antoine benjamin and, they met in tricity high school in east point, georgia. a section of southwest atlanta known to locals as the heart of the swat. the east point and the swat's porter. goodie mob, the labelmates hailed from southwest atlanta and through it started a group of artists who worked well with
willie knighton junior, robin barnett, and thomas galloway. the development of the dirty south rap music opened black atlanta and the black new south to a social commentary from the rap artist who lived in the underbelly trampled over by atlanta's pursuit of the global center. the dirty south rap music provided a new and different lens for exploring the race and class tensions that attended to the rise of the black new south, and mostly black new south's most important regime, between the music and goodie mob's soul food, the two groups critiqued the city's politicians on a number of issues. so i've decided to -- when i play some of this stuff that i am going to treat this as if it is like me interacting with my mom's church. there are some words in this, but it's not extra, okay?
and so i'm saying this because this is being taped. so i'm going to kind of work around that, but i want you to pay attention to what's being said and you will see the lyrics on the screen and hopefully you can follow. ♪ ♪ >> the georgia dome is still flying the confederate flag, and atlanta is called the new town of the south and organized noise production. if you see the far right you can see decatur and below you is
east point, home of the red dogs and home to the -- >> now, please, bleeped that out. i was trying to pause it before then. if you pay attention to what's being said here and you know the city of atlanta, you know that the plane flying in is flying from the south side of the city, and how you know that is the points they give you. so it says if you -- if you -- okay, he says it's the home of the atlanta brave, the hawks and the falcons and if you look to the left you see the georgia dome which flies the confederate battle flag. you will see the confederate memory show up over and over again because a lot of the conversation around the modern black mecca is the same boosterism as the gone with the wind old south. it works in different kinds of ways. since atlanta is being called the new motown of the south and
the organized noise productions. if you look to your right you will see decatur and the east point and college park and home of the red dogs. we're talking about the militarization of the police and the black cats and the robin crews and it presents a very different kind of understanding of the city. i want to take some time to do this. so -- ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ in this verse, the sweets it gets referred to is the first completed on time and under
budget as a result of atlanta winning the olympic bid. this $56 million jail located at 254 peach tree street was built to house the homeless and poor during the games. it also hints at the corruption that later resulted during a federal investigation of bribery that occurred in securing atlanta's centennial olympic bid. for example, a scandal was systemed suspected of giving bribes and the investigation led to the indictment of seven people including airport businessman haroldeccels who pled guilty to having bribed two city council members and ira jackson and buddy faust. you see his name up there.
the investigation tarnished atlanta's affirmative action program which was the model for the nation. the lyrics also focused more on policing and prison than on the corruption. however, in his state of the union address in 1994 president bill clinton proposed a bipartisan-backed bill which he subsequently signed mandating life sentences without parole for any convicted -- anyone convicted of a serious violent felony after two previous convictions on similar state and federal charges. the governor of georgia through the olympicification process garnered national prominence for the first two strikes and you're out legislation in regard to violent felons. this law included provisions of life without parole for felons, no parole, no exceptions for violent crimes. adult punishment for teams who committed adult crimes and longer sentences.
by january of 1998 the two strikes law had put 1,710 criminals in jail and as of 2015, had set the course for 26 states to pass three strikes legislation. what was problematic about this legislation was that the severity of the punishment was left to the discretion of the prosecutors, that's punishment for petty criminal resendiz id vift, and over the past garter of a century and the effect the state's prisons is even greater. federal prosecutor, future politicians who had run on the platform of being tough on crime made careers from this legislation that they could charge criminals with the three strikes law and send them to prison if they did not plead guilty. basically what we're talking about here is the prison industrial complex. so it's atlanta franchised for world consumption, it demonized
and criminalized the black indigenous. let's do one more. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> this is the direct conversation around the atlanta child murders, and the pros kiegsz of wayne williams, with the williams guilty verdict, the atlanta dispersed the task force from members of atlanta's black communities who contested the verdict. many remain convinced that the murder his not been solved and camille bell, mother of yousef bell exclaimed, judge cooper was a part of the prosecution and there was a conflict of interest that was widely believed and
joseph lowery, and i don't know you would find anyone in the black communities who believe the wayne williams committed all of those murder alone. we feel there should be some continuing cooperative effort with the federal agencies and reverend joseph boom, and the summit leadership congress openly attacked the closing of the books on the two murders and explained that many mothers in the black areas of the city were still afraid that a killer was on the loose. there was a suspicion of those preyed upon by the serial killers that the jury had found the wrong man guilty or better yet, that there was not enough evidence to convict wayne williams of other crimes. great unease remained in atlanta's black communities. evidence of this were seen because the fact that atlanta lacked faith and they gave way to the need to find answers and opened a conspiracy theory discussion. in particular, the mothers of
the missing and murdered children languished in desperation, wondering why someone would kill their children. an interview conducted with one of the mothers of the victims resulted in an outburst starting that they knew that wayne williams was not the killer and this was one of the actual motherse mothers. the mother referred to as mother of the victim number one was that the murderer was from a prominent family in georgia if not the richest one, or one of the richest families in george and they were not white people. there was an idea that the klan was killing those people and that was not a far-fetched idea. what she states is wayne williams didn't kill those children. the klan didn't kill those children. this has to do with interferon. it was used to cure cancer. it cured more cancer for so-called caucasians. 30 years ago black males were not dying every five minutes on every time you look around of
cancer. the most potent form of interferon is found in a black male that had never had a full ejaculation. that's the most potent form of it. murdered victim mother number one exclaimed that she had seen marcos t marks on the bodies of six children that indicated a medical procedure. that's something else. this echoes statements by comedian dick gregory who had proclaimed the same story for decades blaming the atlanta-base the center for disease control of the murders. the mother credits this information to a trip that she and gregory made together at the behest of nation of islam leader louis farrakhan. the nation of islam had long believed that american racist his devised an evil plot to kill blacks and farrakhan who deemed himself a protector of black people felt compelled to take matters into his own hands. murder victim mother number one and gregory made the trip to chicago and met with farrakhan where he hired a health care
professional from the mayo clinic. according to the murder victim mother number one it was here that both her and gregory were give then information. many saw this and still see this as a conspiracy. however, the widespread belief of a cover-up made the atlanta child murder susceptible to all forms of conspiracy that were widely believed and articulated. i stated to you all that history is based on facts and what people think about those facts. in conclusion, history is a weapon with an interdisciplinary approach, the issues involved in the city are the worldwide black experience and both objective issues in the research and literature and the subjective issues about how black people think about their experience and studied and interpreted wisely, it can be -- it can help defend and inspire, protect and unify if history is ignored, forgotten
and misconstrued, and it could be a part of the miseducation of the people that would have them going to the back door without being told to do so. of all of the studies, history is so very important not only because it is a vital means to the solution and many of the problems that beset us, but because it is the heart and soul of liberation itself. what i'm saying to you all is i started a presentation by showing a 17-year-old me by hearing music that i thought was unique. what i did not understand at that point in time is that the universe allowed me to understand how i would make a contribution for my life's work as a history professor. i hope that this presentation has been enlight edge. and i hope that it has been useful and i thank you for your time. [ applause ]
>> is this on? yeah? thank you, dr. hobson. we can take about five questions. if you guys want to line up. please make sure they are questions and not stories, we don't have time. i know it's really fun to try to catch him before he gets to the signing table. he will be at the signing table to sign some books and it's a really great book. so if anyone wants to come up and line up for a question he will take about five. >> good evening. i just want to ask, i noticed that you gave a little bit of background for the children who were missing and murdered? >> yes. >> do you have a little bit on wayne williams? >> actually, i have quite a bit
on wayne williams. i spent quite a bit of time in doing some work with him. one of the things as a scholar that i have to be careful with is when you deal with at-risk populations you have to be very careful about what you present with them. >> well, maybe i could be a little bit more specific. you mentioned that -- excuse me, some of those children were good students. >> uh-huh. >> that they had little -- >> yes. >> clean hustle, taking out trash or whatever for the neighbors. did wayne have that kind of background? wayne williams grew up in a middle-class background and considered to be a genius. as a teenager he had a radio station in his home. his mother and father were both very well educated. he was -- he was actually brilliant. from everything that i know about him, his parents were at an advanced age when they had him and it was in georgia state
university. and georgia state university in 1976 he decides that that's not for him and he does work in the entertainment industry. very smart person, wanted to be the next barry gordy and was looking to find the next jackson 5. one of the things that he did that made him questionable is that he didn't always address things accurately, and that called for him to be called into question, but when you talk to attorneys about him, it is basically stated if wayne williams had not taken the stand he would have walked. he had a big personality and he was being challenged and his character was being challenged in particular ways and he explodes on the stands and that's what ended up subsequently getting him convicted. so. >> thank you. >> no problem. >> thanks for coming tonight.
i look forward to reading your book. i am particularly interested in the analysis you did around the olympics. >> yes. >> a lot of talk around some of the corruption when russia won the sochi games. >> yes. >> and some of the abuses in brazil and now we're here again with the winter olympics. those of us who are here in '96 or in '90 remember antonio, the head of the ioc. >> of course. >> who made the announcement. >> i was wondering if in the book you talk about some of the lavish trips that he was alleged to have granted some of the people and officials in atlanta. >> yes, i do and this is a great question. one of the things that i've been fortunate to be able to do in my career is i am a political historian and i am an olympic historian and i've traveled between tokyo, seoul, melbourne and australia and do comparative studies on how cities are franchised and depending where you are, it manifests itself
differently. the united states race becomes a touchstone, and australia race becomes a touchstone and in beijing it's a caste system. in rio, it was caste, but it was class caste and there are aspecs of race and there are 118 racial categorization in south america, but yes, i'm very familiar in brazil and i am very familiar with several trips and one of the trips that i remember most -- that i write about most eloquently in the book is in savannah around st. patrick's day. there was a st. pat ruk's parade and there were trips here to the city that were in mansions and they would have butlers and violins and they would play georgia on my mind and a lot of that did raise suspicion of corruption in terms of atlanta paying for the olympics, but at the end of the day, one of the things that was uttered is that
atlanta's greatest attribute is that it can host one heck of a party, and i want to say this very quickly. just last night i finished a piece of atlanta magazine on 50 years of dr. king and in an interview conducted with gary pomeranz, maynard jackson makes the statement and he says that in order for atlanta to make the bid for the olympic games, they had to evoke dr. king. so basically, when they were in tokyo, governor joe frank harris was the first to speak and billy payne spoke to the delegation and then maynard jackson's job was to speak and one of the interesting things about maynard jackson is he sometimes toyed between being a preacher and a lawyer and his grandfather was his idol who knew how to talk and he was talking about sitting down in the storm and then andrew young's job was to bring it all home, and they evoked
organ music and the black churches called the whoop, and when they bring it to close and everyone comes to jesus and they pass around the offering plate and basically what the world saw was dr. congress's dream. when atlanta won the bid, it was dr. kick's legacy that presents atlanta as the city that transcended the racial history of the american south.n's legac atlanta as the city that transcended the racial history of the american south.g's legac atlanta as the city that transcended the racial history of the american south. >> thank you for the lecture, i'm a native georgian and came to atlanta in '76 to go to clark college. >> yes, sir. >> for me, with all of the history from that point forward, and my question is with all of the history of atlanta and the rich history as a quote, unquote, black mecca, what do you see as the future of this black mecca? >> this is a million dollar question. i get this six ways to sunday.
i get this question daily. you know, this is a unique place and conservative territory and a very conservative state and historically marginalized groups have often had to rely on federal policy to protect marginalized people to right the wrongs in states that have often been non-cooperative with the federal government. however, most recently, we are in uncharted waters and it is now time for marginalized people and i mean this in the most broadest sense, women, latinos, lgbtq community, black people, poor white people, whomever to weaponize state policies to protect us from what's going on in the white house. there are some serious issues here in the city.
we just had the largest cheating scandal in the history of the united states. it's going to fail a lot of black children and it produces -- it brings up conversations around the school to prison pipeline. you have mercedes benz that just put its international headquarters in the north of the city and you have porsche that put it south of the city and amazon headquarters and we have to pay attention to what this is. between 1990 and 2000, the city of atlanta grew by 22,000 people, 85% white. the suburbs grew 2.5 million, 85% black. what we begin to see is the displacement of poor people moved out of the city to clayton and dekalb county and we just saw one of the most toxic mayoral elections in the history of the city where race was a major component, and atlanta's notoriety is the most inclusive
city in the united states which it has been historically would not let us really be honest about what that was. when we have to do and the future of our city rests on politicians that put people first. we have to look at policies that are inclusive. i mean, i'm not saying that we should give everything away, but we have to at least look at mental health. we have to look at schools and we have to look at the things that put back into the community to make sure that the next generation will actually have a world to live in. and so i'm interested to see what will happen with that, and i've talked to politicians on all levels of this because many ask the same question. and they figured out what that is, and if you want to chart the future, you must understand the past or as my father used to
have said, if you want to bend the rule, you must first know the rules and i hope i answered that as best i could. >> when is your book coming out? >> this is sal right here. sal has been a good friend. >> i am so glad it is out. >> thank you, sir. >> your answer to the last question kind of sets the stage for what i want to ask you about. that is, it's a conflict between ad hoc policy and strategic planning. >> yes. >> my criticism is we've had political leaders who have sought to do good through ad hoc programs. >> yes. >> without the strategic plan behind it. >> of course. >> and this is -- this is something unique. you know, i sit here and i am critical of politics and politicians, and those that i've had an opportunity to talk to
say i have to be critical of you, and i admire this about ambassador young, and he says i did what i did so you have to write what you write and we laugh about it, but i don't envy politicians. there is a reason i am a professor, and i say that because you take someone like a maynard jackson i admire maynard jackson and he saw beyond the curve and there is real admiration there, but if you take him as vice mayor in 1971 when he marched for the sanitation workers and in 1977 when he fires them, it is an example that there is a difference between activism, and governing and there are a lot of things that take place within this. i recently spoke with ambassador young and he thanked me for this book because he says, you know, folks just thought i was out here willy-nilly just making decisions. you complicate this narrative
and you show how difficult it was to do some things and so with this, with the conversation around with what it will take place, we really do have to think about how we're going to raise a new group of politicians that can embrace a new world, a new technology world that can come up with solutions. as a historian, we see the problems and we have to move coming up with dollar are solution, and issues of water, issues of public housing and issues of poverty and issues of gentrification which needs to take place, but in the process of that, you have to kind of keep in mind that these cities are supposed to keep up with the times. so i hope i answered that question. hello. >> hello. >> quick question. so atlanta public schools desegregates august 1961. >> yes. >> i'm a product, i'm 48 years old, product of atlanta schools
from 1975 to my graduation in 1988. >> the difference being now and here's my question, when i was growing up i was a part of a program called the mtm program where i was bussed from southwest from southwest atlanta to attend jackson middle school. when the mtm program dissolved with atlanta public schools, kids now then were forced to go back to their community schools. the kids that i grew up with who were in homes that were able to go to the white side of town, they no longer have that. >> right. >> now at 48 years old, i still have all of my white friends. it felt more like a utopia. the kids growing up now in the new atlanta are not having the same level of dialogue. >> yes. >> what do you think can be done to improve the relationships between children who unless they cross i-20, they don't have interactions regularly with people that don't look like them. >> thank you. thank you for your question. this is a really big question. i want to share something with
you briefly. when i was in the seventh grade, a race war broke out in my hometown of selma, alabama, and it resegregated schools. i didn't go to school with white children from seventh to 12th grade. and one of the things that came from that is all of the friends i had up until the seventh grade i have not seen them since 1990. what i'm saying to you is it really presented some things to where it showed us, it took away my childhood. and as you were asking that question, i began to think about alonzo grim, and i thought about the creation, maze high school and how it opened up to doing, to providing the kind of programs for black students to go and the ivy programs and several different things. the jordan state university has the alonzo crim center, and
they're working to do that work, but what that has done is allowed for the school systems. we have allowed for charter schools and the privatization of education. this is urban regime theory working. we've allowed for this to take place and put the onus of what is going to develop our children to private corporations when at the center of our school systems, we should be responsible. if we want better schools, public schools, we must demand for better public schools. and as i think about this, atlanta is still a very segregated city. historically, the invisible racial line was pond paunts. another north was white, everything south was black. now it's i-20. we have to do a better job in terms of bringing together
programs that will allow for diverse students. and it's not just black and white. it's the city is extremely diverse. maynard jackson high school has taken a real stab at that. they tried very well to do things, they have really good programs going. i do a lot of work with the fulton county march. do a lot of work with clayton, dekalb, atlanta public schools. fulton county schools. in terms of social studies curriculum and how we can do things in terms of diversity. but what we must do is it's going to take our public universities to create new curriculums and pedagogies to engage our youth, and i'm not going to say deracialize their mind, but open their minds to different things. i hope i answered that question. [ applause ] >> thank you so much. >> all right. >> thank you. thank you so much.
>> i would rather be a producer than a politician, especially after seeing the stress, you know, the things that a politician has to balance. it's kind of a set-up for my question, kind of a two-part. being that as you have touched on atlanta being a liberal city in a conservative state, so it's like the cross around my dad's chest as he entered into his first mayorship, being expected to, as my mom said in the documentary, walk on water right out of the gate. and it's almost like, okay, put you on the bottom of the ocean and, you know, laden you with,
you know, with a 100-pound weight and tell you, okay, now, swim up. >> yes. >> it's like, we have to deal with these constructs and just the fabric of the legislation in georgia. if we want to really deal with some things in the city. >> of course. >> it's like a bubble within a bubble. so you see where i'm going. even with the -- with the workers. you know, with the -- with the sanitation workers. and the missing and murde ered children. my dad with the sanitation workers. i'm sure your aware, he was trying to find funds so that they could get -- they wanted a raise. and they said, we're going to quit if we don't get this raise.
>> right. >> my dad was like, you better go to work or they're going to fire you. it was like, you know, a back and forth kind of thing. they eventually came back to work. that's just a great example of how he kind of had to walk on the fence and try not to fall either way. and as you said, he was always trying to get funds for the missing murders. to get to my question, what do you think can be done to, i don't know, break the chains. this comes to my mind, of georgia's legislation to start implementing things that the city is striving for? >> so this is -- one of the things i learned when i moved to georgia the second time is that the rest of the state doesn't like atlanta. because they feel like atlanta is the city state.
and it's one of those things, in 2012, there was a referendum on the books to be voted on about transportation, and the state voted it out. the city of atlanta was all for it. the state voted it down. we don't want all of our resources going to atlanta. but this is the thing about where we are. i'm a realist. and there will always be suffering in the world. one of the things i can say about the state of georgia that is very different than my home state of alabama, the state that i grew up in alabama, is that georgia has bent to economic pressure to try to do the best thing. in the 1990s, with the confederate battle flag that flew atop the city and maynard
jackson basically takes the flag down in the city because he understood that progressive olympians around the world and black athletes were not going to come to a city and play in stadiums that had a flag that was an actual flag of white supremacy. he understood that. and they show up before the olympics and say you can also be a south hater and all these things. but there was also governor nathan diehl who has done good work to try to bring convicted felons back into society. but that the strike down of the georgia religious freedom deal was targeted to lgbtq community, and what diehl understood was that if we do this, this is going to cost us. and with this being said, the issue that mr. jackson is laying out is that we must understand what politicians are elected to
do. they are elected to represent the entities in which they embody. the president of the united states is supposed to support the constitution of the united states on one level or the american empire on another. same thing with the state of georgia, same thing with the city of atlanta. so what we must do is we must force -- we must galvanize people and force politicians to work at the behest of the people. most recently, president carter made a statement about how politics is now moving to being a set of oligarchs that run things. we have to take this back. there is power in people. so i hope i answered your question. [ applause ] >> thank you so much. >> thank you. >> okay. so tonight we're going to drop
the golden apple, and books are 25% off. so head out and buy the book. and get it signed. thank you so much for coming tonight. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and today we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider.
>> american history tv was recently at ford's theater in washington, d.c. for the 21st annual symposium hosted by the abraham lincoln institute and ford's theater society. next, michael burling game, author of abraham lincoln, a life. he talks about the president's treatment of african-americans visiting the white house and those he met during his travels. this is about 50 minutes. >> i'm privileged to introduce our next speaker, dr. william c. harris. bill harris is professor emeritus of history at north carolina state university. a native of alabama, and on his b.a. degree in alabama in 1954. he remembers seeing legendary alabama football coach bear bryant for his early morning practice, b