Earlier that day, Gossett - who won an Oscar in 1982 for his role in "An Officer and a Gentleman" - received the prestigious Phoenix Award from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms at Atlanta City Hall. Former Atlanta mayor and U.N. ambassador Andrew Young showed up as well.
This wasn’t happenstance. When word got around he was considering a move to Atlanta, some of his friends in town decided to honor him. Monday became “Louis Gossett Jr. Day.”
The 81-year-old New York native said he used to hang out with Bottoms' father Major Lance, a 1960s R&B singer. "Small world," he mused.
In his 20s, Gossett said he was active in the civil rights movement and came to Atlanta to protest Lester Maddox's gubernatorial run in 1966. He recalled getting bit in the leg by a police dog near Ebernezer Baptist Church and decided to return back to Brooklyn. Over the years, he said he met Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Joseph Lowry in passing but knew Julian Bond better.
Today, he continues to work with no desire to retire.
“It’s not work,” Gossett said. “It’s better than work. It’s a lifestyle. If I were a laborer, I’d certainly be retired. But as an actor, you go from one phase to the next. The days go by quickly. The responsibility as an elder is to pass it on to the next generation.”
Many of his peers from his era have passed away but he never attends funerals. For instance, he said he watched Aretha Franklin's funeral on TV. He's rather celebrate what they did while they were alive so in a sense, "Aretha is still here. Michael Jackson is still here."
“All I have is today and that’s a miracle,” Gossett said.
He said he made the decision just recently. For now, he said he’s going to crash at a friend’s pad in Buckhead.
“I’ve almost come full circle from my roots,” he said. “My great grandmama was a slave down here. I have a photograph of her and me. I was 17. She was 115! She raised me.”
Here’s Gossett on Mark Arum’s show. They talked baseball, “Roots”and the time he won his Oscar. He is heard during the second hour: