Here's a German TV recounting of the fight. Several recordings of the comeback bout, such as this one, are available on YouTube:
The auditorium only housed 5,000 people, but millions around the world were paying attention. The New York Times reported that almost 19,500 frenzied fans paid top dollar to watch on closed-circuit TV in Madison Square Garden. Similar reports came from Italy, Spain, London, Beirut and even the Soviet Union, where the broadcast was in one sense a surprise, because professional sports were criticized there as "decadent" capitalism, and in another sense quite natural, because the Soviets lionized Ali for refusing to fight in Vietnam.
It's impossible to quantify the cultural impact of the night on Atlanta. A quarter-century before Ali lit the cauldron to inaugurate the 1996 Olympics, it was he who placed the city in the global sports spotlight by returning to the ring here. And his presence in particular spotlighted the emerging capital of the New South in its new role as a black Mecca.
The Times reported that the bout was like "a page out of the roaring twenties. ... The ladies had beads down to the hem of their maxi-skirts. One man wore an ankle length mink coat, with a high hat of mink to match. ... Diana Ross sat in the forth row, ringside, with a bouffant, Afro-American hair-do that stretched out 10 inches on each side."
Boxing historian Bert Sugar said the fight "marked the greatest collection of black money and black power ever assembled up until that time. Right in the heart of the old Confederacy, it was 'Gone with the Wind' turned upside down."
Many years later, longtime Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Furman Bisher wrote: "It was more than a prize fight. It was an event. It made a statement. There has been nothing like it in Atlanta before or since."
Even Ali himself was astounded at the show. Hours before the bell rang, in the lobby of the Regency Hyatt, he quipped in his usual cocksure fashion: "There are so many of my people around, they think we own the hotel."
"I was about 10 feet away from him because, if something happened, I was on top of it to make sure it was lit. It took him a little bit longer to walk up there. But he knew what he had to do. He didn’t have any problems. He lit the Olympic torch. It was unbelievable."
“I have chosen to defend myself, against the advice of co-counsel, the court, my husband, friends; as a matter of fact, against my own intellect, whatever that is. The District Attorney and his agents used a dash of truth and a cup of lies to concoct one of the most imaginative Hollywood scripts in the history of America. Let history record you as a jury who would not kneel to the outrageous bidding of the state. Justify our faith in you.”Afeni Shakur lived in Atlanta and was a staple in the community for many years, particularly while Tupac's stepfather Mutulu Shakur served time for an unrelated conviction in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. It was here in Stone Mountain that she chose to establish the former Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts in her son's honor after his death.
Earlier this week Walker died after growing ill over the past couple of years. In his absence, he leaves behind a legacy that includes zealous participation, blunt remarks, and fierce criticism — all of which have slowly dwindled inside Atlanta City Council’s chambers in recent years.
“Nothing was beyond his scrutiny,” says Councilman Michael Julian Bond. “If he felt you were not being considerate of the public on a small issue, like the order of speakers in a meeting, he would call you out on that.”
In the mid-1980s, the Vietnam War vet first became a frequent face at 55 Trinity Avenue. During the height of his advocacy, the one-time Five Points vendor claimed to attend most public meetings. Often clad in hospital scrubs, he saw himself as a “doctor” of the political process, passionately fighting for the rights of veterans, vendors, and the greater public.
“He brought a combination of spiritual and philosophical [to meetings],” Councilman C.T. Martin says. “He could engage you in deep conversations. He was much brighter than a lot of people thought. Some people thought he had other motives. He was trying to be a teacher.”
Ron Shakir, a fellow citizen activist, didn’t always see eye-to-eye with Walker, who described himself as the "only black conservative Republican in Atlanta.” Walker was also known for his polarizing viewpoints, like the time he told CL that the Atlanta Beltline was a “noose around the necks of all of Atlanta.” But Shakir says Walker often helped City Hall newcomers uncertain of how to navigate the political process find their way.
“Dave helped anybody who had the courage to speak in City Hall,” Shakir says. “Citizens have fainted at that podium. Dave made it easier. If he felt like someone was being bullied, he wouldn’t shy away from bullying back for them.”
An Atlanta disability activist and musician and local arts advocate were both killed on Wednesday as they neared the end of a statewide journey to Savannah to raise awareness about disabilities.
Frank Barham, 60, was traveling from Atlanta to Savannah, charting 30 miles a day in his wheelchair, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, help more disabled people living in underserved communities gain access to wheelchairs, and to perform a concert. Atlanta arts supporter Margaret Kargbo was documenting the journey and escorting the Atlanta resident in a support van that followed behind.
According to the Savannah Morning News, a fully loaded tractor trailer struck the van from behind around 4 p.m. near the border of Screven and Effingham counties in southeast Georgia. The impact caused the van to hit Barham before catching fire in the median.
Carrie Johnson of Villa Rica, the driver of the van, was transported to a burn center in Augusta, the Morning News reports. The driver of the tractor trailer, who the newspaper identifies as Kenneth Richards of North Augusta, S.C., was uninjured. The Morning News says charges are pending.
Barham, who became a paraplegic in his mid-20s after a car accident, was traveling to Savannah as part of Wheel 2 Live. According to Barham's website, the route followed the path of Gen. William Sherman’s “March to the Sea” during the Civil War. He was scheduled to perform at Telfair Square in Savannah on Friday. The concert has been canceled.
Kargbo is a well-known and valued member of the local arts community who chaired the board of C4, the local arts nonprofit.
"The board and staff of C4 Atlanta would like to express our condolences to the families on the loss of Margaret Kargbo and Frank Barham," C4 said in a statement. "Our thoughts are also with Carrie Beth Johnson during this time. Our hearts are heavy with grief. The community lost two great heroes in the arts.
Margaret and Frank both carried a strong presence as widely admired advocates. Their loss will be felt throughout the community."
Before she died, the Howard University graduate served as the public affairs director at Women Engaged, a nonprofit aimed at involving more women in social and political movements. A GoFundMe page has been launched to help Kargbo's family and cover expenses.
Thomas was beloved by many in Little Five Points, where he spent many years helping other homeless men and women find food and shelter, and elsewhere in Atlanta. Those who knew him recall Thomas as being gentle, wise, and a lover of bluegrass music.
The Winter Haven, Fla., native was a longtime member of Gentle Spirit Christian Church. He befriended Pastor Paul Turner who later told CL, “There was not a kinder, gentler man on the face of the Earth.”
Thomas, who moved to Atlanta in the 1960s, was a familiar face at the homeless outreach provider, The Open Door Community. A picture of him now hangs at the Ponce de Leon Avenue facility.
After many years sharing stories, playing his guitar, and relentlessly helping others, Thomas became ill with double pneumonia and died on Feb. 24 at Grady Memorial Hospital. According to Turner, he was 72.
Thomas’ memorial service is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.
Hall, who resigned from office in late 2010 amid scrutiny about suspicious test scores, faced charges that included a violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, false statements and writings, false swearing, and theft by taking. Hall denied any wrongdoing.
The 68-year-old school system administrator's attorney said she had been unable to stand trial due to her fight against terminal breast cancer. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter had agreed multiple times to delay her trial. A number of other APS staffers, who did not agree to a plea deal, rested their defense last week in the massive trial that started last September.
Hall, who first came aboard with APS in 1999, played a crucial role in turning around test scores in a struggling public school system. In the process, she earned national acclaim and praise from local business and civic leaders. But those gains were found to be the result of edited test scores, pressure to improve school performance through cheating, and what state investigators called a "culture of fear" that discouraged school system employees from speaking out against the wrongdoing. Following an AJC investigation into the falsified test scores, state officials launched an investigation in early 2010 that eventually led to formal charges against her and 34 other APS employees in 2013.
UPDATE, 3:41 p.m. Hall's 8-member legal team released the following statement:
It is our sad duty to acknowledge that Dr. Beverly Hall has lost her long, difficult battle against breast cancer. Dr. Hall fought this disease with great courage and dignity. For the last year and a half, Dr. Hall's directions to her doctor have been simple: get me well enough to stand trial; and to her lawyers: see to it that I get a fair trial. She was never concerned about the outcome of such a trial, only that the process be fair. She never doubted that in a fair trial, with the jury hearing the state's contentions and her rebuttal, to include her own testimony, she would be acquitted. In the end, she was not strong enough to go to trial although that had been her earnest hope.
As the Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, Dr. Hall fought, as she had throughout her career, for urban school children and their ability to learn. She believed to her death that all children, regardless of circumstance, could learn if provided with proper teachers, curricula and facilities. But we now know that there were some educators at APS who cheated in an effort to show improved learning. Dr. Hall long ago accepted responsibility, as the head of APS, for the unfortunate truth that some educators cheated on standardized tests. She was deeply sorry to learn that this cheating had occurred. At the same time, Dr. Hall continued to have deep faith in the thousands of dedicated APS educators and students who worked hard to achieve real learning and success. But one fact never wavered— to her dying breath she denied any role in directing, ordering, or participating in any cheating at APS. Even after millions of dollars, hundreds of witnesses and interviews, and a review of thousands upon thousands of emails, not a single witness has said, nor a single email demonstrated, that Dr. Hall ordered, directed, or participated in cheating. On the contrary, Dr. Hall's tireless efforts to raise standards of education at APS for every child under her care starkly contradict the notion that she somehow conspired to orchestrate widespread cheating. She rebuilt schools, prioritized literacy, improved teaching, developed leaders, and modernized support systems.
As we have in the past, we continue to maintain Dr. Hall's innocence of all charges brought against her. The lawyers of our firm and the other lawyers who worked to defend Dr. Hall donated thousands of hours of their time at no charge to Dr. Hall and her family because we believed in her. Our pro bono defense was intended to spare her and her family the crushing expense of her defense at a time when she was least able to afford it. We have been proud to serve as her counsel.
We express our heartfelt condolences to Dr. Hall's family and to her many friends and supporters.
UPDATE, 4:42 p.m. APS, in a statement pointing to Hall's achievements during her tenure as superintendent, sends along two statements. Says APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen:
“We offer our condolences to the family of Dr. Hall. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends during this difficult time."
“On behalf of the Atlanta Board of Education, we offer our deepest sympathy to the family of Dr. Beverly Hall and encourage all to respect her family’s privacy in their moment of grief.”
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