Memorials are here to remind us, to motivate us, to inspire us.
This month we explore and remember the leadership, courage and creativity that molded art, music, and educational arenas in Atlanta, and places far beyond. What we find is that memorials are community building, not necessarily isolated to one static place. The most meaningful of them are ideas, omnipresent and affective. Our guides for this journey include a business leader, an author, and a poet. Their stories take us on a journey to discover the legacies who helped shape our community, and in its own collaborative way, create an audible memorial through the context.
Fifty years ago on June 3, 1962, Atlanta lost 106 patrons and loved ones in the most devastating tragedy our art community has ever seen. On takeoff back to Atlanta, after spending three weeks of cultural tourism in Europe, their plane exploded in a fiery crash at Orly field just outside of Paris, France. Orly shook the community to its core, yet in response catalyzed Atlanta’s arts and business communities to create a memorial. That memorial is the Woodruff Arts Center. Joe Bankoff, President and CEO of the Woodruff, joins Gene in the studio this month to discuss the positive impacts of this memorial and the leadership that made it possible.
Author, playwright, and poet Pearl Cleage is well accomplished and well known for her work. But the invitation to commemorate Orly through her poetry was a unique challenge. How does a woman – who at one time felt like The Woodruff was not a place for her – speak to the families who’s loved ones are memorialized therein? She does it with kindness, with care, with love and with respect. Pearl takes time to read a part of her poem “Wish You Were Here”, making the listener feel like they were there. It is both sad and satisfying at the same time. Pearl will be reading “Wish You Were Here” in its entirety on June 3rd as part of the Woodruff Arts Center’s Orly Community Day.
Blind Willie McTell, who played in Atlanta and around the South through the 1940′s and 50′s inspired the likes of Bob Dylan and The Allman Brothers with his captivating guitar playing. He also inspired local author David Fulmer to add McTell as a character in novels, as a documentary subject, and in a controversial move, to replace McTell’s tombstone with a memorial Fulmer felt more appropriate to the legacy. Fulmer’s colorful and charismatic story-telling brings a great conversation along with the perspective of music as a memorial.
Of course, this month’s show is also in the honor and spirit of Memorial Day, a day that we remember and celebrate the men and women who have bravely given their lives for our united freedom. This idea of “freedom” is priceless and their sacrifice is the lifeblood of our nation.