Category Archives: Uncategorized

Postcards from the edge–of the Quad

Al Dowdle III, a research administrator in the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory, enjoys collecting old postcards, and some years ago he sent me scans of a few that he had come across here and there. Recently he sent me some more that show “dear old Emory” as it was fifty, eighty, or more than a hundred years ago. With his permission, I’m sharing them below with his comments and questions and my responses.

Al says: This is a real photo card, meaning the postcard was individually printed from a photographed image onto this photo paper and developed. From the stamp box, this paper was made between 1910 and 1930. Do you think this is the bridge behind the Carlos facing away from the quad?

a Emory Snow

Me: Yes, this is a view of the bridge now known as the Mizell Bridge, after Robert C. Mizell (1911C), long-time university administrator. In this photo, the photographer is standing near where visitors now enter the Carlos Museum from the ravine side of the building. The photo is rare because it shows not only the Mizell bridge but also, in the distance to the right, a bridge that no longer exists. The original drive into the campus crossed two bridges – one near where the Church School Building now stands, and the second behind the museum (Mizell). You can see a close-up of that first bridge on my blog post of July 27, 2017. In the July post, the photographer is looking toward where the Rich Building now stands.

Al: This is also a real photo card. Again dated from 1910 to 1930. The stamp was produced from 1908 to 1920. I think the postmark is 1923 or ’28? Where was this building? My mom, who was at Emory in the very early 1950s, does not remember it.

b Emory Chapel

Me: This is the chapel in the Old Theology Building (formerly the home of Pitts Theology Library). The building opened in 1916 as one of the first two academic buildings on the campus, across from its twin, the Law School (now Michael C. Carlos Hall). When the theology school acquired the Hartford Collection in 1975, the entire building was converted to library space, and this chapel was deconsecrated and filled with shelves. You can read more about this space in my blog post of November 8.

Al: I believe this is a white-border card dating between 1915 and 1930. Now that I look at it again, I think I have the same image in color. I will have to look.

c Emory Quad

Me: This photo certainly was taken after 1926, when Candler Library, facing the viewer, was opened.

Al: I love this card. It again is a real photo card. The paper was manufactured starting in 1950. The blue lettering on the left says “swimming pool.” I wonder what game the writer marched into wearing blue jeans?

d Emory Aerial

Me: Good question about the game; I don’t know what it might have been. It sounds like Karen was living on campus, in which case she may have been one of the first female students to reside on campus. That would date this postcard to after 1953. Her mother, Mrs. John E. Buhler, must have been the wife of the dean of the dental school at the time, Dr. John E. Buhler, who served from 1948 to 1961. (His deanship was marked by anti-Semitism in the school, a story told here.)

Al: I love the cars in this one. Post mark of 1971.

e Emory Wesley Woods

Me: They don’t make ‘em like that anymore! Wesley Woods was built by the Methodist Church in 1954 on a sixty-acre campus next to Emory and has been a partner of Emory’s ever since. In 1998 the geriatric hospital there–the first of its kind in the nation–became part of Emory Healthcare.

Al: “Lovely Glenn Memorial…” in 1955. Are those electric trolley wires in the top center of the photo?

f Emory Glenn Memorial

Me: Yes, those are streetcar wires. The streetcar stopped running past there in 1948 or so, and the car in the photo looks about that vintage, so the photo may be a decade old.

Al: I know this is not technically Emory, but I also have read the Atlanta College of Physicians and Surgeons eventually became part of Emory SOM. Postmark 1909. Does this look anything like the new SOM classrooms? I wish I could read all of the message on the back where the sender describes what they did in each room. “#3 is where I look at frogs.” The last line mentions a Halloween party with a “girl as sweet as a pickle.”

g Emory Atlanta College

Me: No, the latest SOM labs are a bit more up to date, thankfully. Looks to me like the card says “Ga. girls sweet as pickle.” I always thought they were sweet as peaches. It’s great to find these messages on the cards, though. Makes me wonder who will be reading my postcards a hundred years from now.

Gary Hauk

Starvine

It bears a name at once both celestial and terrestrial, evoking an image of Jack’s beanstalk climbing from field to clouds, a green rope winding its way from Shakespeare’s “sullen earth” to farthest heaven, a stem of vegetation reaching to the night sky—starvine. And for the shuttle road that links Emory’s residential Clairmont Campus with the main campus—across a rainbow-arch bridge over the CSX railroad tracks—it lends an equally suggestive name: Starvine Way, perhaps a winding starlit path.

This obscure plant, the starvine, hides throughout Lullwater, the 150-acre preserve that also harbors the home of the Emory president. Starvine sprouts in other parts of the Emory Forest as well, a botanical treasure whose threatened existence in the Southeast, its only native habitat, makes Emory perhaps its most important home anywhere in the world.

I first became acquainted with starvine as a name on a list of plants indigenous to Lullwater. When the University was building the shuttle road in 1999–2000, it needed a name. Because the road hugs the edge of Lullwater, I searched the list of indigenous plants included in the report on Emory forests prepared in 1986 by biology professors Bill Murdy and Eloise Carter. And there was starvine–a poet’s name for a threatened species.

Also called bay starvine or magnolia starvine, its scientific name is schisandra glabra. Emory environmentalists have taken to calling it American starvine, to distinguish it further from its more prolific Asian cousin, Chinese starvine (schisandra chinensis). Slender tendrils with widely spaced, shiny green leaves trail along the ground or stretch up in little palm-tree-like stalks or twine themselves around slender saplings to pull themselves up toward the sun.

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Starvine shoots cultivated from cuttings at Wesley Woods. Photo by Emory Photo/Video.

Born in leaf litter, the vine reaches for the light and sometimes shoots up twenty feet or more toward the tops of its host trees, which include the rare broad-leaved or umbrella magnolias (not the non-indigenous Southern magnolia, which was imported to these parts). The vine’s red berries open, when ripe, into a five-petal flower with a rounded star shape.

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Starvine blossom. Photo by Emory Photo/Video.

Around the starvine grow other wild medicinal celebrities: the bane berry bush with its small fruits that look like porcelain doll’s eyes (a poisonous plant, as the name suggests, except in very small amounts brewed in tea for headaches, coughs, and colds); sweet shrub (useful for nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea); spice bush (for colds, dysentery, intestinal parasites); and, perhaps most striking, wild ginseng (for higher mental and physical energy and reduction of stress).

These plants, growing on the north-facing slopes of Emory’s protected forested acres, make the woods of the campus places where idle strolling leads to scientific speculation. Carl Brown, an adjunct faculty member in Environmental Sciences, has taught me almost everything I know about starvine. Carl and others have been working with descendants of the Creek Indians who once inhabited this area to determine whether Native Americans used starvine for healing.

Kirk Hines, a horticultural therapist at the A.G. Rhodes Home on Emory’s Wesley Woods campus, has engaged residents of the home in planting seeds and cultivating an experimental starvine “vineyard” as one of the therapeutic activities he directs.

It may be time for the little plant to have its day in the sun — but it really prefers filtered light, with dappled shade. Halfway between earth and heaven.

Gary Hauk

For more about the cultivation and study of starvine at Emory, check out the “Emory Report” article by Kimber Williams.

Doggerel for the Class of ’77

One delight of my job is the invitations I receive to speak to various gatherings about days of yore at Emory. Such a gathering occurred during Homecoming last month as the Emory College Class of 1977 convened in Ackerman Hall of the Carlos Museum to renew friendships and swap reminiscences.

Emory Morsberger, who had served as Student Government Association president during the class’s senior year, recalled the astonishing fact that he won the Domino’s Pizza–sponsored pizza-eating and beer-drinking contest. What was astonishing about the event was not who won it—the identity of the victor is really immaterial—but that the university sanctioned the event at all. The drinking age in those years was 18. But still . . . Bishop Candler surely was turning in his grave.

Charged with the task of commemorating the class’s era in seven minutes or less, I went to work in Rose Library digging through the Campus yearbook, the Emory Wheel, and other sources, then penned a bit of doggerel to read aloud. For those readers who have memories of the era, some of the lines may ring with a note of familiarity.

Epic of the Class of Seventy-Seven

It was back in the autumn of seventy-three

When the Watergate scandal was raging,

And the gas lines were long because OPEC was strong,

And your parents were all middle-aging.

 

Pharrell Williams and FedEx were born in that year,

Hip hop launched a new genre of music.

On the other hand, Bruce Lee, Picasso, Jim Croce

All fell to the Grim Reaper’s choosing.

 

By the time that year ended King beat Bobby Riggs,

Nixon told the press “I’m not a crook.”

And the people before me—alumni/alumnae—

Had taken to life with a book.

 

It was then, as I’m sure you remember quite well,

That you came in your tie-dyes and blue jeans

To this old Druid Hills with its woodlands and rills,

Trading family and home scenes for new scenes.

 

And the fall of your first year at Emory was wild:

A Dooley’s Den coffee house opened;

Yom Kippur brought a war; gas prices still soared,

But at Horton’s, The Grille kept you copin’.

 

The dean who made Wonderful Wednesday resigned,

While the president looked toward retirement.

He enjoyed his pipe smoke while the students would toke,

Though today’s smoke-free campus would fire him.

 

In the fall of your second year traipsing the Quad

You could hear a quite famous exhorter,

As the great Margaret Mead told the students, “Take heed—

Your tuition’s nine-fifty a quarter!”

 

There was fear that old Emory was just for the rich,

While financial aid needed some boosting.

Meanwhile AMUC, alas, didn’t have enough class

As a place to support student roosting.

 

Through the culture at large there pervaded a sense

Of bleak doom that the era was rousing.

Yet if all went to pot, the doom simply would not

Put a damper on campus carousing.

 

By the time you were juniors a theme had emerged

In the pages of Campus, the yearbook:

Every party and dance seemed to offer a chance

For each student to have their own beer truck.

 

As September of seventy-six rolled around

You were wrestling with things existential:

Should you plan on more school, find a job, or play cool?

Meanwhile questions arose presidential.

 

For the nation was voting that fall to decide

Between Ford and our own peanut farmer.

While much closer to home, Sandy Atwood made known

He would take off his president’s armor.

 

As the board of trustees got a search underway

For the seventeenth leader of Emory,

Lots of other good things came on stage from the wings—

Let me name some and freshen your memory.

 

In November Theology remade its home

As a library, painting it pink.

Although students were pissed for the chapel they missed,

They soon left off from causing a stink.

 

In curricular matters, ten years of hard work

By a Methodist chaplain named Boozer,

Endowed a chair newish for studies quite Jewish.

David Blumenthal, hats off to you, sir.

 

At the business school two million dollars was tabbed

For enhancing the school’s future picture.

Soon a three-story stack was tacked onto the back,

And the Rich Building thus became—richer!

 

On the student front, life often felt like a grind,

Or so said a Wheel editorial.

The inadequate gym, dormitories quite dim,

And the ancient Alumni Memorial

 

Raised the question if twenty-five years farther on

There would be any student activities.

Surely something must change to address the full range

Of students’ creative proclivities.

 

As the search for a president grew more intense,

Unfortunately so did the winter.

That year it was colder than Aspen or Boulder—

Even Yankees at Emory felt bitter.

 

Well, the spring soon arrived, and the trustees announced,

After being with questions just peppered,

That theology deans were the stuff of their dreams—

They chose Laney to be Emory’s shepherd.

 

As you marched on the Quad in regalia in June

To receive your new-minted diplomas,

You may have felt shaken, as if now awakin’

From four-year-long undergrad comas.

 

For the world now before you was risky and cold

When compared to your warm alma mater.

But you went forth with grace and a smile on your face

Marked by Emory’s hard-won imprimatur.

 

Forty years have flown by in the blink of an eye.

Here you are for a wondrous regathering.

I have talked long enough about lots of old stuff

And should leave you to drinking and chattering.

 

But before I sign off, let me offer a toast

To the spirit with which you have leavened

Your Old Emory dear. Let us give a loud cheer

To the Class of Seventy-Seven!

 

Gary S. Hauk

Read to the reunion of the Emory College Class of 1977

At Carlos Reception Hall, October 21, 2017

 

Emory then and now                         1977                              2017

Fall enrollment (total)                        7,572                           15,252

Varsity athletic teams                               8                                   18

Full-time faculty                                   904                              3,000+

Degrees conferred                            2,010                                4,721

Total operating budget             $136.3 million                 $4.8 billion

Sponsored research                      $25.7M                             $628M

Endowment market value      approx. $165M            $6.5B (8/31/16)

 

The Sword in the Library

I was talking with Emory College junior Karan Malhotra about nineteenth-century secret societies when he suddenly asked, “What do you know about Archie Drake?”

Not a thing, I said. Who was he?

“There’s a sword in the alumni house with his name on it. His full name was Archelaus A. Drake.”

Hmmm. That name rang a bell, but I couldn’t place it. An antebellum Emory student? A faculty member who served briefly before disappearing from the school and its history? Not sure. But a sword in the alumni house? I’d never heard of it.

“I could show you the sword. Do you have time?”

We walked from the coffee shop to my car in the Oxford Road deck and drove to the alumni house, where we rousted Tom Brodnax, resident curator, and climbed the stairs to the Schley Library.

Karan walked to a far window, reached behind the sideboard there, and pulled out a sure-enough sword in a tarnished but emblem-adorned scabbard.

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The hilt of the Archelaus Drake sword.

The thing cries out chivalry, knighthood, crusades. The pommel on the hilt is a knight’s helmet, while figures of knights adorn the scabbard and hand guard. The blade of the sword is engraved from guard to tip with scenes of knights on horseback, desert oases, and something resembling the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

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Part of the blade of the Drake sword.

A scouring of available alumni records back to the Civil War turned up no Archelaus A. Drake, but faithful Google found two: Archelaus Augustus Drake, who lived from 1857 to 1929 and is buried in Texas; and Archelaus Augustus Drake III, son of Archelaus A. Drake Jr. and a member of the Citadel class of 1945. He enlisted in 1943 and and died in combat in Europe the next year. His nickname was Archie.

A search of the Emory website also turned up Archie Drake. His friend William Matheson, who attended Emory one year in the 1940s and for whom the magnificent reading room in the Candler Library is named, created the Archie Drake Prize in memory of his childhood friend in Macon. The prize in Archie’s name recognizes an Emory College junior who has demonstrated academic growth and leadership potential.

An engraving on the blade near the hilt has the logo of Pettibone Bros. of Cincinnati, Ohio, which apparently was the premier maker of Masonic and other regalia in the 1890s to 1920s. So this likely was a Masonic sword owned by the first Archeleaus Drake, Archie’s grandfather. The description of a sword up for auction online fits almost exactly the description of the Drake sword, from the reclining knight and red cross on the scabbard down to the Masonic emblem near the embossed name on the blade.

But the provenance of the sword is a mystery. It probably was passed from grandfather to son to grandson and may have come to Mr. Matheson after his friend’s death. It’s possible he then donated it while creating the Drake Prize.

Time for more detective work.

Gary Hauk

Unlucky DUC

In 1985, Emory added a John Portman-designed wing to the west façade of the 1927-vintage dining hall and auditorium, which stood on one of the highest points of the campus. An earlier addition to the east side of the dining hall, dedicated in 1950, had led to the renaming of the structure as the Alumni Memorial University Center, or AMUC. Rechristened at its dedication in 1986 as the Dobbs University Center, in honor of its principal donor, R. Howard Dobbs Jr. 27C, the entirety of the new student-life center quickly gained the nickname of the DUC.

The year after the DUC opened, Emory observed its sesquicentennial, and part of the celebration of that milestone included the burial of a time capsule near the DUC. I commented on this time capsule in an earlier blog. Plans call for the time capsule to be opened in 2036, at the bicentennial, but no one said anything about digging it up before then.

With the demolition of the DUC this summer to make way for a new Campus Life Center (CLC)–which you can see in a drone’s-eye fly-through–construction crews had to dig up the time capsule and set it aside for reburial later.

Al Herzog, the Emory manager overseeing demolition of the DUC and construction of the CLC, sent me this photo of the time capsule last week to reassure me that it is safely in the hands of folks in Campus Life.

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The exhumed time capsule, still sealed until 2036.
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Explanatory plaque that had been set into the ground above the buried time capsule.

Al also sent an aerial view of the construction site, which shows the vacant area where the DUC once stood. The time capsule had been buried near the large bush in the lower right corner. In the back stands the old AMUC, with its 1927 façade covered by plywood for protection against construction debris. Plans call for restoring the AMUC as a stand-alone building.

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Time capsule was buried near the large shrub just above the truck with the white cab, lower right.

Gary Hauk

 

 

 

Emory Law in the American Context

This week (April 24–29) Emory Law School is ratcheting up the year-long observance of its centennial with a weekend celebration. The school opened its doors as the Lamar School of Law on September 27, 1916, bearing the name of Emory’s then-most-illustrious alumnus, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar (see my post from January 1, 2016). On Saturday, the 29th, the school will honor another eminent alumnus, former US Senator Sam Nunn 62L. Former President Bill Clinton will speak at the gala dinner.

Happily, history will be remembered. The school has invited me to give a talk to alumni on Saturday afternoon, and the challenge has been finding ways to limit the storytelling to 40 minutes. There’s much to tell.

For instance, the decade of the 1930s brought to Emory Law women and men who would go on to have a profound impact on Emory, Atlanta, Georgia, and the nation. It was a decade of stars: Patricia Collins Butler 31L, Henry Bowden 32C 34L, Boisfeuillet Jones 34C 37L, Randolph Thrower 34C 36L, Ben Johnson Jr. 36C 40L.

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Patricia Collins Butler 31L. Courtesy of Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University

Pat Butler was one of the 175 makers of Emory history celebrated during the University’s 175th anniversary in 2011. When she died at age 101, in 2009, she had left a trailblazing legacy. Although she graduated second in her class in 1931, she struggled to find a job in Atlanta but was hired to establish the antitrust library for the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. She went on to work for sixteen attorneys general, and with the case Johnson v. Shaughnessy, in 1949, she became one of the first female lawyers to argue before the Supreme Court. Together with Chief Justice Warren Burger she founded the Supreme Court Historical Society in 1974. May I add that while Emory law women were succeeding in the world, it would take Harvard Law until 1950 before it admitted its first woman, by which time Emory had graduated 25.

I can’t help wondering whether the social dislocations of the 1930s shaped the way these women and men viewed society and their responsibility for making it more just, more fair for everyone.

Just one more story for today—that of Randolph Thrower 34C 36L.

Thrower and Eisenhower
Randolph Thrower with President Eisenhower in the Oval Office. Courtesy of Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University

If you want to hark back to the politics of a different era, consider the life and legacy of Randolph Thrower. He was a Republican in a Deep South state that had been run by Dixie Democrats since the end of Reconstruction. To get a sense of how things have changed, note that as a Republican he drafted the 1969 Tax Reform Act that raised taxes on capital gains, and he was a founding member of the Lawyers Group for Civil Rights Under Law, an organization launched by President Kennedy to provide legal support for the civil rights movement. In 1987 he was a member of the ABA’s first Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession, which was chaired by an Arkansas lawyer named Hillary Clinton—who, appropriately, was the first woman to deliver the Thrower Lecture, endowed at the law school in his honor. The enduring mark of his integrity and commitment to the rule of law, however, was his being fired as IRS Commissioner in 1971 by Richard Nixon for refusing to use the IRS as a weapon against Nixon’s enemies.

Like Pat Butler, Randolph Thrower had surpassed his own century mark by the time he died peacefully at home in 2014. Centennials abound!

Gary S. Hauk 91PhD

 

 

 

 

Emory’s 2nd president of Georgia Tech

Robin Thomas, who graduated from Emory College with highest honors in Italian studies in 1999 and now teaches art history at Penn State, sent me news that Marion Luther Brittain’s house is being demolished in Midtown Atlanta to make way for an office tower, hotel, and residences.

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Marion Luther Brittain, from the 1944 Georgia Tech yearbook The Blueprint

Brittain (1866–1953) was one of the 175 “makers of Emory history” celebrated during the University’s 175th anniversary observance in 2011. An 1886 graduate of Emory College, he served as state school superintendent from 1910 until his appointment in 1922 as the fourth president of Georgia Tech, from which he retired in 1944. (He was the second Emory alumnus to serve as president of Tech; Isaac Hopkins, Class of 1859, left the Emory presidency in 1888 to become Tech’s first president.) In 1942, Brittain donated funds to Emory to create the highest student award for “recognition of unselfish service to the University,” an award named for him.

Brittain lived in this house with his family between 1911, when it was built, and 1922, when he moved into Georgia Tech’s presidential home.

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The Brittain house in the 1990s.

Located at 1109 West Peachtree Street, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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The front porch of the Brittain house

The impressive columned façade gives entrée to a spacious interior, which was divided into four apartments after the Brittains moved out.

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Downstairs parlor of the Brittain house

It’s sad to see another old, historic home disappear from Atlanta’s inventory. Happily, plans are underway to restore, rather than demolish, another home on the National Register—Buddie Candler’s Briarcliff mansion, owned by Emory.

Gary Hauk

Two heroes at Emory

On December 17 the New York Times carried news of the death of Lawrence Colburn. He was one of three men who stopped the massacre of civilians at My Lai on March 16, 1968, during the Vietnam War. Horrific in scale and shocking in its violation of American values, international law, and basic humanity, the massacre stunned the nation when it came to light. Yet the massacre might have been far worse, but for the heroism of helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, gunner Larry Colburn, and crew chief Glenn Andreotta.

Charged with using his helicopter to draw enemy fire away from US troops on the ground, Thompson soon realized that the only shooting was being done by Americans, and that something was terribly wrong. He landed his chopper between the troops and helpless civilians, and together he, Colburn, and Andreotta risked their own lives in the face of what can only be described as lunacy and evil.

Thirty-four years later, Emory professor David Blumenthal, the Jay and Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies, nominated Thompson and Colburn to receive honorary degrees from the University (Andreotta, the third member of the helicopter crew, had been killed in action three weeks after My Lai). Professor Blumenthal has long been an advocate for recognizing those who stand, courageously and sometimes alone, against tall odds in the face of oppression, barbarity, and the trampling of humanity. On May 13, 2002, Thompson and Colburn received the Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa, while the citation below was read.

The President, Trustees, and Faculty of Emory University

take pleasure in honoring

HUGH THOMPSON and LAWRENCE COLBURN

Heroes and Healers of the Wounds of War:

On a beautiful March morning in 1968,

ordinary people much like us committed unspeakable evil,

but you and your fellow crew member, Glenn Andreotta—

also ordinary people much like us—

transcended fear and chaos to save the lives of the innocents,

and thereby to rescue honor and right and

hope for the human capacity to choose the good.

From among the bodies lying dead in a ditch,

you lifted up a living child, whom now, in his adulthood,

you continue to help toward a fuller, happier existence.

From the cinders of the burning village

and the ruins of the blood-soaked streets,

you lifted up a reminder for us, in a violent and savage world,

that some things are worth risking death for,

many fewer are worth killing for,

and blessed is the heart that knows the difference.

Today we are honored to confer on you

the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

 

Rest in peace, valiant soldier, defender of our humanity. And may the rest of us ordinary people—much like you—rise to the occasion when the defense of humanity calls us.

Gary Hauk

Happy Birthday, Emory

“In 1836, when the Cherokee nation still clung to its ancestral lands in the State of Georgia, and Atlanta itself had yet to be born a year later as the town of Terminus, a small band of Methodists in Newton County dedicated themselves to founding a new town and college. They would call the town Oxford. It was a name of high aspiration, linking their little frontier enterprise with the university attended by the founders of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley. The college they would call Emory, after an American Methodist bishop who had inspired them by his broad vision for what education in America might be. The year before had seen, in France, the appearance of the first part of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. It was Tocqueville’s insight that the American democratic experience rested on the voluntary association, [citizens] coming together in pursuit of the common good, and nothing symbolized his insight better than that company of college founders as they made their plans in the humming Georgia woods.”

—from A Legacy of Heart and Mind: Emory Since 1836

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Ignatius Alphonso Few, President of Emory College, 1836–39

One hundred and eighty years to the day since the Georgia Assembly granted a charter to the college on December 10, 1836, Emory University bears as little physical resemblance to its fledgling ancestor as Atlanta does to Terminus. Yet the ideals that motivated the founders still sound in the voices of students, the lectures and seminar discussions led by faculty members, and the daily fulfillment of responsibilities by staff members and administrators–hope for a better future, convictions about the importance of individuals, and the belief that our sometimes wise and sometimes foolish hearts still have the possibility of nurturing knowledge in the hearts and minds of a new generation.

See the “Emory History Minute” about Emory’s original 1836 charter here, number 28 on the menu in the upper left.

Gary Hauk

Reprise of a great tradition

My article about the Atlanta Music Festival appeared today in the online “Saporta Report,” and I thought I’d share it here for those who don’t subscribe to Maria Saporta’s excellent newsletter.

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.

One instance of this phenomenon will be on display for the umpteenth time on November 18, when the historic Atlanta Music Festival mounts its concluding gala concert at Glenn Memorial Auditorium on the Emory University campus.

Born out of chaos and violence, the festival harks back to 1910, when a black minister drew from his background in classical music to create a bridge between music-loving black and white communities. Although it persisted for just eight years, the Atlanta Colored Music Festival, as it was called, made way for healing in the wake of the devastating 1906 Atlanta race riot. The interracial collaborations forged then through music would bear fruit decades later.

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Henry Hugh Proctor. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Reviving this tradition in 2001, black minister, musician, and professor Dwight Andrews and white church music director Steven Darsey have fostered a vision of the arts as an engine for interracial understanding and social transformation. The Nobel Prize Committee this year may have recognized the power of Bob Dylan to speak for a generation. But no less powerful, though often unheralded, is the more subtle impact from exposure to different artistic and musical traditions. Somehow under the dance steps, behind the stage scenes, over the floating musical notes, in front of the canvas is born a shared experience that gives people of every variety a common experience to begin a conversation.

Something unique sets the Atlanta Music Festival apart. At other, one-off cultural events, audiences show up, enjoy, then leave. But the Atlanta Music Festival is making a long-term investment in Atlanta’s children and a vision for a community of the future. According to the festival’s website, the festival supports the Atlanta Music Festival Conservatory, a collaboration among the festival, Emory University’s Graduation Generation program, and historic First Congregational Church.

Offering a free after-school program and a free two-week summer camp, the conservatory teaches students in fourth to sixth grades to play instruments, study music theory, and receive instruction not available to them otherwise. The students hail from metro Atlanta area schools and community programs.

As Andrews, a professor at Emory, has put it, “With an ear to voices that have not been heard, [we] are striving to create a musical world of reconciliation and empowerment. We are making an investment, anticipating a return that will shape the American musical and cultural landscape of the future.”

The list of those supporting the festival tells some of the story of this investment—Georgia Humanities, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, WABE-FM, Woodward Academy, and the Atlanta Community Foundation are some of those who have made major contributions. All have a commitment to preserving and nurturing what the Georgia Humanities tagline calls “the stories that make us and move us.” As Atlantans, as Georgians, as Americans, we are shaped by the arts because they tell us where we have been, who we are, and what we might yet be.

The week-long festival, from November 14 to 18, includes a panel discussion that will ask leading artists and writers to consider the ways communities shape their work and, in turn, how their communities are changed by their art. What is the artist’s responsibility to society, and society’s appropriate commitment to art? The panelists will include Fahamu Pecou, creator of MARTA’s new murals; well-known actress Brenda Bynum; ethicist and photographer Carlton Mackey; and Pulitzer Prize–winning Atlanta native Taylor Branch.

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More than 600 Atlanta-area schoolchildren lifted their voices in Atlanta’s Symphony Hall in 2011 to recreate the premiere of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

As it did in 2011, the festival will reprise the historic 1900 premiere of the resonant “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” At its first performance, the song’s lyricist, James Weldon Johnson, and his brother, composer Rosamond Johnson, enlisted the voices of 500 school children in Jacksonville, Florida, to welcome their school’s honored guest, Booker T. Washington, on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. In 2011, more than 600 Atlanta-area schoolchildren performed the song during a morning symposium at Atlanta Symphony Hall. This year the performance, hosted by Brenda Wood, will take place at Ebenezer Baptist Church on November 16, at noon.

The festival’s concluding gala concert features a work commissioned specifically for the occasion. The renowned composer Adolphus Hailstork has written a choral piece inspired by President Obama’s speech “A More Perfect Union.” That was the speech in which Obama resoundingly called upon both African American and white communities to embrace a more complete vision of America’s promise.

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Jessye Norman will headline the 2016 Atlanta Music Festival gala concert, November 18, in Glenn Memorial on the Emory campus.

The galaxy of starring musicians will be led by Georgia native Jessye Norman and Atlanta’s own Timothy Miller as soloists, the Vega Quartet, the Morehouse and Spelman Colleges glee clubs, and the Governor’s Award–winning Meridian Chorale.

As our society continues to look for ways to straddle our differences, reconcile the past to the present, and chart a hopeful path forward, the Atlanta Music Festival offers one proposal for how the arts might lead the way.

Gary Hauk is university historian and senior adviser to the president at Emory University and a member of the Georgia Humanities board of directors.