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Atlanta’s future first lady ‘perfect for this,’ friend says

Atlanta’s future first lady is a glamorous former beauty queen, a cultured scholar and a dedicated public servant steeped in the history of the city’s civil rights struggles, said her longtime family friend.

“She will be a great ambassador,” said Andrea L. Boone, commissioner of constituent services in Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s office. “She’s perfect for this.”

Boone has known Sarah-Elizabeth Langford, the mayor’s intended, since Langford was a toddler.

“We grew up together,” Boone said. “It’s been a lifelong friendship.”

Her father, the Rev. Joseph E. Boone, preceded Langford’s father, the Rev. Arthur E. Langford Jr., in the pulpit of Rush Memorial Congregational Church, a congregation deeply involved in the civil rights movement. Boone recalls her friend “watching her father give his sermons. She was very attentive even as a little girl. Her mother would bring her to Sunday school dressed up. She’s always been very pretty.”

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And smart.

The former Miss District of Columbia is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Howard University School of Law, and is now employed by National Church Residences, a senior housing nonprofit.

“She’s a diligent and dedicated servant,” said Boone, who recalled her friend discussing matters in French with her mother, Alethea W. Boone, growing up. “She has a passion for the least of these. She’s not a little trophy girl. She’s strong.”

Former Mayor and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, a longtime Langford family friend, introduced Langford at the 30th annual Mayor’s Masked Ball in December.

“I just wanted them to know that she was more than just a pretty face,” said Young, who last month walked daughter Andrea Idelle Young (now Mrs. Jerry Thomas Jr.) down the aisle. He didn’t mind sharing his thoughts on mayors and marriage.

“I rode up to New York with Valerie Jackson just before she and Maynard got engaged,” he said of the late former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson. “I said the one thing she couldn’t afford to be was possessive and jealous. The mayor is married to the city. You can’t be jealous and possessive over any person in public life. You have to be secure in your own life.”

Langford is, Young said. “She is accomplished in her own right.”

Reed, 44, proposed to Langford, 35, while vacationing in the Bahamas and announced the engagement on Monday.

“I could not feel more blessed that she agreed to marry me, and we look forward to building a family together in the greatest city in America,” Reed said in a statement. “I am honored to have our friends and family share this special moment with us and I ask that our privacy is respected as we celebrate this personal occasion.”

The mayor declined to comment beyond the statement, and his fiancee, who is expecting the couple’s first child, didn’t respond to an interview request.

Although other family friends are thrilled for the couple, few wanted to comment publicly. While the Bahamas Consulate General’s Atlanta office was quick to offer congratulations (and perhaps a tourist-friendly hint to other romantics that the Bahamas sure are lovely this time of year), Consul General Randy Rolle’s hearty felicitations came packaged with a privacy pledge in keeping with the mayor’s request.

“We are honored that the mayor chose the Bahamas to extend a marriage proposal to his bride-to-be,” Rolle said in a statement. “As Atlanta and the Bahamas advance in partnership, I am honored that the islands of the Bahamas have been a part of such a momentous occasion. We thank Mayor Reed and his future bride for visiting the Bahamas. The entire island is excited, we respect their privacy and wish the happy couple well.”

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