During the month of February, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will publish a daily feature highlighting African American contributions to our state and nation. Go to www.ajc.com/news/martin-luther-king-jr/ for more subscriber exclusives on people, places, organizations like the Negro National League, that have changed the world and to see videos and listen to Spotify playlists on featured African American pioneers. (Edits by Tyson Horne and Ryon Horne / email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org)
Aaron, who would go on to star for more than two decades for the Atlanta Braves, hit 755 home runs and knock in more runs than anybody in the history of baseball, said later that no moment ever affected his outlook on what was possible in the world more than that day. “I knew I was going to be a ballplayer,” Aaron would say later.
Muhammad Ali hits Jerry Quarry with a hard right during their fight Oct. 26, 1970, in Atlanta. Ali was declared the winner in the non-title match. AP/file photo
• Visually, we also wanted to do things differently. In addition to the daily videos, a series of mini-documentaries were produced to tell larger stories. We had acclaimed author Tayari Jones tell us why her hometown of Atlanta is so important to the global arts scene, while Kennesaw State University professor emeritus of voice and music literature Oral Moses serenaded us with the history of the Geechee Gullah spiritual, "Kumbaya." To celebrate the100th anniversary of Zeta Phi Beta, they let us watch them during step practice, and to mark the 40th anniversary of "Rapper's Delight," we had a host of people try to rap it. Finally, we went to church with IMPACT to hear their moving rendition of "Movin' on Up," to help explain what that song still means to black America.
During the month of February, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will publish a daily feature highlighting African American contributions to our state and nation. Go to www.ajc.com/news/martin-luther-king-jr/ for more subscriber exclusives on people, places, and organizations like Zeta Phi Beta that have changed the world and to see videos and listen to Spotify playlists on featured African American pioneers. (Edits by Tyson Horne and Ryon Horne / email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org)
• For the third year in a row, we asked a family member of a prominent African American to pen an essay on the influence and personal reflections of their relative. That is how we got the story of the brilliant, but sometimes volatile, Richard Pryor from his son Richard Pryor Jr., who saw his father as just that — a father.
Comedian Richard Pryor clowns around with his son Richard Pryor Jr. in the 1970s.
• We actually had a second personal essay this year as Joel Alvarado poignantly wrote about the delicate struggle of living in America as both a black man and a Latino.
Joel Alvarado, shown in 1975 and today, has had to navigate two worlds an a black man and a Puerto Rican who identifies as Afro-Latinx. COURTESY JOEL ALVARADO
• As we have done annually, we made sure that the prominent roles that women have played in black history are well-reflected, from Selma Burke, the artist whose work influenced the look and design of the American dime, to Kara Walker, who uses her art to ask deep questions about race, gender, sexuality, violence and identity.
• Civil rights legends from Diane Nash, one of the driving forces behind the early civil rights sit-in movement, to Myrlie Evers, a true survivor who went on to lead the NAACP decades after her husband was assassinated for fighting for civil rights, were featured.
• And further digging into the musical crates, we told the story of the Father of Memphis Blues,W.C. Handy, who was born less than a decade after slavery ended and died at the age of 84 in New York City, and explored the brief, meteoric career of Georgia-born Otis Redding, who was only 26 when he died.
• This year, in an effort to show that African Americans are not monolithic, we took great care in telling the story of the LGBTQ community, with stories on Disco Queen Sylvester, transgender journalist Raquel Willis, and Bayard Rustin, the Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and architect behind the organization of the March on Washington.
• Pioneers like Charley Pride, who broke barriers in country music, and James Baldwin, who broke all conventions as a critic and writer, were featured.
A James Baldwin reading list, including “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” “Notes of a Native Son,” “Giovanni’s Room,” “Nobody Knows My Name,” “Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “The Fire Next Time,” “Another Country,” “Sonny’s Blues” and “The Price of the Ticket.”
When all was said and done, 20 reporters and five editors produced 29 daily stories and four special Sunday stories for the series.
For the musically inclined, we created seven playlists to run with stories.
The only thing left to do now is plan for 2021.
AJC SEPIA BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2020
Go to www.ajc.com/black-history-month for more subscriber exclusives on people, places and organizations that have changed the world and to see videos and listen to Spotify playlists on featured African American pioneers.