Atlanta & Rhetoric

Atlanta has been the site of significant and nationally visible rhetorical activity from its founding as a mass communication center, and certainly in the aftermath of its reconstruction. Some examples:

Timeline of Atlanta History
List of Notable Civil Rights Figures

1847: Atlanta was incorporated as a city.

1864: After warning City Council, and telling them that “War is cruelty and you cannot refine it,” William Tecumseh Sherman burns Atlanta pretty much to the ground (about 70% of the city destroyed). It’s kind of a great letter, available here.

1891-1892 Asa Candler buys Coca-Cola

November, 1987, Jefferson Franklin Long becomes Georgia’s first African American Member of Congress; a former slave, he served for 23 years representing Macon.

September 18, 1895 Booker T. Washington, Atlanta Compromise Speech, Cotton States and International Exposition, Piedmont Park

January 31-February 5, 1895 the National American Women Suffrage Association held its first national conference in the South, meeting at the Aragon Hotel and the Opera House.

May 31, 1906, Franz Boas gives Commencement Speech at Atlanta University (in which he argues that African Americans have a history)

1919: The Woodruffs buy the Coca-Cola Company

November 29, 1935 FDR Dedicates Techwood Homes, the nation’s first public housing, near Georgia Tech

1936: Margaret Mitchell wins Pulitzer Prize for Gone with the Wind. Apparently, upon hearing the news, she fled to a “small black church in Atlanta” where the press couldn’t find her. Her house is now an Atlanta Museum.

In 1950, Stone Mountain was finished.

In 1965 “The $18 million Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was built in 364 days “on land we didn’t own, with money we didn’t have and for teams we had not signed,” according to Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. That same year, the Braves moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee, and the Atlanta Falcons became a new National Football League expansion team.”

February 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr., Drum Major Instinct, Ebenezer Baptist, Church. The journalistic accounts show that King spoke near Sweet Auburn after he returned home with the Peace Prize. Other King speeches and events in Atlanta are recounted here.

April 9, 1968, Benjamin Mays delivers, as promised, the last eulogy for Martin Luther King, Jr., Ebenezer Baptist Church.

1970, activists hand out literature but do not march for gay pride; the first Atlanta Pride event is 1971.

January 12, 1971, Jimmy Carter calls for end to racial discrimination during his inaugural address at the State House.

November 7, 1972, Andrew Young becomes one of the first African American Members of Congress elected from the South since Reconstruction. He served the 5th District. John Lewis has held that seat since 1987.

1974: Atlanta Brave Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s long-held major-league home run record.

January 7, 1974, Maynard Jackson inaugurated as first African American Mayor of Atlanta, City Hall

1975: TBS founded by Ted Turner

November 2, 1976, Jimmy Carter becomes the first Democrat since John F. Kennedy in 1960 to carry the states of the Deep South, and the first since LBJ in 1964 to carry a majority of all southern states. President Ford sent him a telegram on the morning of Nov 3; and weirdly, Betty gave the concession speech. There are thousands of sites on the election.

June 1, 1980, Ted Turner founded CNN, and gave inaugural speech on the network.

January, 1987, Hosea Williams leads Georgia’s largest civil rights protest when 20,000 face off against the Klan at the Forsyth County Courthouse.

July 18, 1988, the first and only time a national political convention has met in Atlanta. The Democrats nominated Michael Dukakis; Ann Richards gave the Keynote Address.

1996: The Centennial Olympic Games were held in Atlanta: July 20-August 4. Muhammad Ali lit the torch.

In 1996, Coretta Scott King spoke at Gay Pride.

October 18, 1999, Coretta Scott King keynoted the AIDS Quilt Initiative, at the launching of the Historically-Black Colleges And Universities Quilt Initiative. (It’s not clear from the connected information where the speech was given).

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama has visited Atlanta and spoken at Emory several times, most recently on October 8, 2013.

The header above is of W.E.B. DuBois, taken as he received the Spingarn Medal in Atlanta, Ga., 1920. From the Georgia Encyclopedia: “During two extended stints in Atlanta, 1897-1910 and 1934-44, Du Bois contributed immensely to the black intellectual and activist community and produced a number of studies that explored the social, economic, and political conditions of African Americans in Georgia and across the United States. In Georgia, Du Bois wrote some of his best-known works, including The Souls of Black Folk, Dusk of Dawn, and Black Reconstruction, and established a journal dealing with the African American experience called Phylon, which has recently resumed publication.”