The Atlanta Legacy Makers podcast presented a unique opportunity to create content that connected to the Gary M. Pomerantz book, Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn: A Saga of Race and Family, in a way that was as much about re-examining history as it was a personal journey of self-discovery for me. It was also a platform for community engagement meant to provide a better and deeper understanding of Atlanta, Mayors Ivan Allen Jr. and Maynard Jackson, and the significance of the overall Atlanta Legacy Makers project. With this mind, the structure of each podcast episode had multiple layers: highlight the author’s point of view, provide additional context through an Atlanta location that corresponds to the book, and give guests a platform for dialogue that would add to how audiences could understand both the book and/or Atlanta in an intriguing way.
Additionally, Public Safety precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic created an extra wrinkle in the podcast production: every interview had to be recorded by virtual means.
As a conversational companion to the book, it was important to have Gary’s voice be prominent in each episode to honor his role as the author of the source material. He was very generous in this regard; I recorded two extended sessions with Gary where he recited passages from his book, in addition to sharing his general reflections on what it was like to write the book then and what it means to him now.
Along with featuring Gary’s voice, in each episode I wanted to communicate some sense of place with a sense of history. From Oakland Cemetery to City Hall to the old Rich’s Building…it was important to try to connect what was happening in the podcast to what was happening in each part of the book…and to try to find some current-day Atlanta link or representation of that history. So while the process was very much virtual for all of the guests and the audience…it entailed an important physical, real world dimension for me as the host/producer.
Given that a few generations have passed by since the book was published, there was a specific emphasis on trying to bring fresh eyes and voices into the dialogue that listeners might find interesting. Each of the guests—Marcy Breffle, Gordon Jones, Alex Acosta, Danielle Deadwyler, Edith Kelman, Alexis Scott, Doug Shipman, Todd Michney, Calinda Lee, Tiffany Atwater Lee, Raianna Brown, Amir Farokhi, Beau Allen, and Valerie Jackson—provided a specific perspective that was intended to enhance the experience of reading the book and understanding Atlanta. With these selections I thought deeply about the past and the present, and what voices might be important in the future.
Now that I’ve had a little bit of time to reflect on the podcast, I can admit it felt like an informal, self-guided Atlanta education that allowed me to connect to the history of the city through text, conversation, and location. And in an unexpected way, I also got an opportunity to really hone in on what the Atlanta cityscape sounds like, and what makes this place so special to so many others.
Looking forward, while it’s clear the initial impetus for the Atlanta Legacy Makers podcast was connected to Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn, I think there may be an equally significant opportunity before us—to extend the podcast as a companion to Atlanta’s legacy in a larger sense as a space for relevant conversations about our beloved city. Perhaps it’s possible to add to this podcast in the same way we all add to Atlanta’s rich history every day. If the lives of Ivan Allen Jr. and Maynard Jackson have shown us anything, it’s that Atlantans always dream big and then find a way to get it done.
I am deeply humbled by all of you who took the time to listen and connect with this project, and I sincerely appreciate the sponsors and stakeholders who created a platform to make it all happen.