Fredalyn M. Frasier, Saporta Report Thought Leadership
Last summer, Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the City of Atlanta announced the launch of “Atlanta Legacy Makers,” a public commemoration of Atlanta’s inheritance exemplified by two Atlanta mayors, Ivan Allen Jr. and Maynard Jackson. This public commemoration—demonstrating dynamic use of public space and public art in Downtown Atlanta’s Woodruff Park—aims to embrace the legacy that Atlantans now and next are charged to carry forward.
The idea for an artistic tribute to Mayors Allen and Jackson was born in 2018, when local developer Gene Kansas invited Gary M. Pomerantz, author of Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn: A Saga of Race and Family, to speak at the Auburn Avenue Research Library to celebrate the opening of Constellations, a shared workspace in a neighboring historic building on Auburn Avenue. During the talk, Pomerantz highlighted the significance of both Atlanta mayors in the history of Atlanta.
Inspired by the talk and feedback from guests in attendance, journalist Maria Saporta wrote an opinion piece encouraging the city to commemorate the special relationship between the mayors in the form of a sculpture at the intersection of Peachtree Street and Auburn Avenue. In 2019, CAP convened an exploratory committee, and the idea for a selection process for a new piece of public art was formalized.
The vision for this project has lived in the minds of community leaders for a long time now, and honoring these two Atlanta mayors and their remarkable legacy is not just a curatorial effort. Involving the community to build this tribute project alongside us, resulting in a public archive and artwork that speak to the larger theme of a united Atlanta community, remains a priority.
Originally intended to launch as a series of events across the city, Atlanta Legacy Makers instead offers an array of shared online/individualized experiences, including:
- Read the book to dive deeper into the origins of the project. Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn: A Saga of Race and Family by Gary M. Pomerantz is available for purchase and local delivery at A Cappella Books in Little Five Points, https://www.acappellabooks.com/
- Atlanta Legacy Makers: The Podcast, produced by Floyd Hall featuring local leaders and visionaries discussing the themes and historic events featured in the book Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn: A Saga of Race and Family. Listen to the episodes here.
- An open call for oral history submissions for community members to submit their own stories to the public archive, be it a reflection on civil rights history or a response to social justice issues of today. Video and/or audio stories are encouraged. Submit them here.
The newest community engagement opportunity is tied to the recent announcement of the four finalists identified in an open call for submissions for the public art commemoration. While the teams continue to refine their submissions, community members are invited to provide input to them by engaging with the feedback tool now available on ATLLegacyMakers.com. The brief exercise invites participants to imagine how they would like to experience the reimagined space and artwork.
Youth voices are also an important element of Legacy Makers. Students in Atlanta Public Schools Middle & High art classes will provide their personal interpretation of this piece of public art. The artwork will be shared with the public via the project website and social media platforms in April. The students’ images will also be shared with the final four teams competing for the opportunity to create the artwork for the city.
Over the next six months, Atlanta Legacy Makers project will continue to present opportunities for the community to engage with the project and the design teams.
The most important aim of Atlanta Legacy Makers is to foster a broader conversation about the kind of city we want to be. Help us create the art and the archive and stay tuned for the announcement of the winning design team this August. ATLLegacyMakers.com