Tales of Old Atlanta – The photo journalism of Boyd Lewis 1969-79.
Featured: Zell Milller. Tom Offenburger, Dr. Ralph David Abernathy. Andy Young. Rev. Joseph Lowery. Joe Rauh. George McGovern. Sam Massell. E.J. Shepherd. Jimmy Carter. John Lewis. Archie Allen. Julian Bond. Charles Weltner. June Cofer. Bill Alexander.
My mom with portable radio, Biloxi, Miss. 1923
A Midtown party for Zell Miller’s campaign for Georgia lieutenant governor, 1974.
In Spring 1973, Tom Offenburger gives a joyous welcome to visiting Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, SCLC president, in the Washington, D.C. office of Atlanta’s new congressman, Andy Young. Both men were very close to Dr. King and were on the SCLC staff throughout the Movement years. Offenburger had been southern bureau chief of U.S. News and World Report when he left journalism to become Dr. King’s press spokesman. After the assassination, he continued for a while speaking for Dr. Abernathy at SCLC, then joined Young when he left the civil rights organization to run for congress. Offenburger died in 1986 at the age of 52.
It was 1970, and color was no barrier to joining a march down Auburn Avenue against the Vietnam War. From left are Rev. Joseph Lowery, civil rights attorney Joe Rauh, Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, Juanita Abernathy, Senator George McGovern and Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell.
Grady High School’s coach and players share the shock of a touchdown scored by rival Price High School at a 1974 game. At the time, Grady was about 65 percent white.
It’s ironic that the schools of Atlanta, home to most of the nation’s civil rights leadership, were among the last to comply with court orders to desegregate. The local NAACP leadership was booted out by the national leadership for swapping black control of the system for the goals of desegregation. The legal problems swirling around them didn’t seem to affect these elementary school kids in the Virginia Highland neighborhood in 1976.
Vendors at the Municipal Market welcome a visit by Rep. E.J. Shepherd with hoisted collards, flowers and ribs. The market has always been friendly ground for the races.
Governor Jimmy Carter (with Rosalynn in the background) visit the Old Fourth Ward restaurant of E.J. Shepherd on Butler Street. Shepherd, a state legislator, routinely held fundraising dinners for candidates of both races. He helped organize church support for Dr. King’s civil rights activities. Later, he was instrumental in saving the Municipal Market from demolition. After Dr. King’s sermons at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the pastor and family would walk around the corner to Shepherd’s for some down home cooking.
Getting’ on the good foot in a 1975 benefit for Radio Free Georgia at the Little Five Points Community Center.
Archie Allen, left, met John Lewis, center, when both were student civil rights activists in Nashville, Tenn. in the early 1960s. They worked together for years to encourage black voter turnout in the South and Allen came with Lewis when he became director of the Voter Education Project in 1970. State Rep. Julian Bond, right, knew both when they were all members of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 60s. SNCC was probably the nation’s most influential biracial organization. A militant cadre took it over, expelled Archie Allen and all whites. Lewis and Bond quit in protest.
Classmates at a Head Start center in Vine City, 1970. I show this photo to my students in Los Angeles, telling them that this was the goal of the civil rights movement.
The biracial nature of Atlanta politics is clear in this photo and the wall behind. Standing to the left is Charles Weltner, who gave up his congressional seat in 1966 when he refused to pledge loyalty to segregationist governor Lester Maddox as titular head of Georgia’s Democratic Party. Next is State Rep. E.J. Shepherd. Then comes June Cofer, the school board member from Grant Park who enjoyed widespread support among black voters. On the right is Bill Alexander, who represented Atlanta’s interests in the state legislature for Mayor Jackson (poster, left).
These photographs come from my career as a freelance photojournalist in Atlanta during the 1970s. Half of the archive is with the Atlanta History Center, half is with me in Los Angeles. There are around 20,000 negatives, slides and prints in the collection, so the Tales of Old Atlanta might run for a little while longer. Next Week: It’s a Southern Thing The cannons of Fort Walker, Grant Park, overlooking Atlanta
This free webzine is meant for your entertainment and information only. All photographs copyright Boyd Lewis/Atlanta History Center. Except as permitted under the Copyright Act of 1976, these images may not be reproduced in whole or in part with permission in writing from copyright owner. For information, contact Boyd Lewis. Or snail mail me at Boyd Lewis, 2858 Marengo Ave., Altadena, Calif. 91001.
Tales of Old Atlanta is also available at: www.talesofoldatlanta.com.
New Orleans family. War baby. Family moved a lot. Secondary and college education in Memphis, TN. Just before 1967 graduation, commissioning and tour of leafy, lovely Vietnam, banged up in auto accident. Decided to go into journalism. Tennessee mountain weekly, small Mississippi daily and nearly three decades in Atlanta. Black and alternative newspapers, freelance photojournalist, public radio news and documentary producer, news writer for CNN. Married Deborah James, followed her to Los Angeles for job. Quit the dismal trade and became middle school English teacher in LA barrio school. Quite happy.