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The Legend of the Black MeccaPolitics and Class in the Making of Modern Atlanta$
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Maurice J. Hobson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469635354

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469635354.001.0001

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The Bravado of the Black Mecca and Blackness Abroad

The Bravado of the Black Mecca and Blackness Abroad

Andrew Young and Black International Citizenship

(p.131) 4 The Bravado of the Black Mecca and Blackness Abroad
The Legend of the Black Mecca

Maurice J. Hobson

University of North Carolina Press

Chapter Four focuses on Atlanta’s rise as a global black city and the idea of black global citizenship through foreign and domestic policies as seen through U.S. Presidents, from John F. Kennedy to Jimmy Carter. When Andrew Young was elected as the city’s second black mayor during the 1980s, he inherited numerous social ills and a pernicious financial crisis. When President Ronald Reagan cut federal funding to American cities, Young found it necessary to fund and expand the city through foreign investments and neo-liberal forms of urban renewal and gentrification. Most of Atlanta’s black community saw a business-minded and globetrotting mayor promoting purported progress and the black Mecca image. Yet, Young had no plan to deal with issues pertinent to the poor as mayor and his “citizen of the world” persona was not a good look for Atlanta’s working class and poor black communities, as it seemed that he did not embody their interests. Young used his savior-faire and political influence to refashion a city worthy of hosting the 1988 Democratic National Convention and the Centennial Olympiad. The Democratic National Convention served as the dress rehearsal for the Centennial Olympiad and from this event it was clear that Atlanta was indeed a new city with the black Mecca image at its center, worthy of hosting events on the world’s stage. However, Atlanta’s overwhelmingly poor and black citizens did not share this vision of their city nor were they at the center of the commercial branding of the America South. The significance of this is that once again, the issue of class within the black community presents itself as more divisive than cohesive.

Keywords:   Andrew Young, black internationalism, Democratic National Convention, Jimmy Carter, neoliberalism, police brutality, United States Olympic Committee, war on drugs

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