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Interview with Sam Massell, August 22, 2008

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:29 - Family and early life

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Partial Transcript: You know, the Massell name is as much Atlanta as...

Segment Synopsis: Massell talks about his father and uncles and their real estate development businesses in Atlanta. Massell discusses his father's influence on his work ethic and interest in politics.

Keywords: family; father influence; politics; real estate

00:06:56 - Early political involvement

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Partial Transcript: But before that actually--earlier political involvement started...

Segment Synopsis: Massell recalls attending the University of Georgia during the war period and becoming the fraternity president during his freshman year. He discusses his first elected office in Mountain Park, Georgia, the discrimination he faced because he was Jewish, and his work to reform and diversify the White Democratic Executive Committee.

Keywords: Jewish; Judaism; Mountain Park, Georgia; White Democratic Executive Committee; elected office; minority representation; political involvement; politics; reform

00:13:51 - President of Board of Aldermen / Making appointments as mayor

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Partial Transcript: My next office was one with the President of the Board of Aldermen.

Segment Synopsis: Massell describes the events leading to his becoming President of the Board of Aldermen, presently known as City Council, and his decision to run for mayor. Massell also discusses his efforts in making diverse appointments in his position as mayor.

Keywords: city council; diversity; mayor; political appointment; representation

00:21:05 - Running for mayor / Race and politics

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Partial Transcript: But anyway, on the mayor's race, it was heated.

Segment Synopsis: Massell discusses the support of the black community for his election as mayor, his race against black candidates, and the increase in black voter registration and political involvement that allowed for the election of the first African-American mayor in Atlanta.

Keywords: Atlanta, Georgia; Maynard Jackson; mayor; political involvement; voter registration

00:25:15 - Legacy as mayor: MARTA and minority representation

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Partial Transcript: I mean, as mayor, there were great opportunities because of the power...

Segment Synopsis: Massell talks about advocating for funding the MARTA public transportation system through a sales tax, campaigning to change public opinion, and negotiating the price of the fare. He also discusses his initiative in appointing women and African-Americans to city office, and increasing diversity in politics.

Keywords: MARTA; minority representation

00:32:14 - Higher education / Careers outside of politics

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Partial Transcript: I'd like to back up a minute, Mr. Mayor...

Segment Synopsis: Massell talks about the difficulty in balancing his academic studies with campus involvement. He discusses his careers outside of public office, including retail sales, real estate development, and recalls his decision to start his own travel business.

Keywords: academics; campus involvement; careers; real estate; travel business

00:43:56 - Buckhead Coalition / Consolidated vs. growing government

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Partial Transcript: All the things, my experience in real state and law and politics and truism....

Segment Synopsis: Massell describes his work on the Buckhead Coalition and its varied initiatives. He analyzes the effects that Buckhead's becoming a separate city would have on Atlanta, and compares examples of the consolidation versus the growth of government.

Keywords: Atlanta, Georgia; Buckhead Coalition; consolidation; economy; government structure; social welfare indicators

00:53:40 - Race for Board of Aldermen

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Partial Transcript: Let's go back to politics and your race for president of the Board of Aldermen...

Segment Synopsis: Massell describes the importance of the black community in electing him as mayor, attending screening committees organized by the black community. He remembers advice that his campaign managers, Helen Bullard, gave him regarding preparation for meetings.

Keywords: Helen Bullard; black churches; election ticket; screening committee

01:01:25 - Working with Ivan Allen

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Partial Transcript: Talking about Ivan Allen as mayor...

Segment Synopsis: Massell recounts working with Ivan Allen, Allen's business approach to government and an incident in which Allen was quoted in the newspaper without consent.

Keywords: Ivan Allen; business model; mayorship

01:08:05 - Self-identification / Progressive politics

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned liberal.

Segment Synopsis: Massell describes the difference between liberal and conservative during the 1970s. He explains the political mobilization of the black community and the election of the first black mayor, Maynard Jackson. Massell also comments on the changes that characterized the beginning of progressive politics in Georgia.

Keywords: Carl Sanders; Maynard Jackson; black community; county unit system; liberal versus conservative; political mobilization; reapportionment

01:19:50 - Reflection on career

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Partial Transcript: As you look back on your 12 years in the city hall of Atlanta...

Segment Synopsis: Massell reflects on some achievements and regrets of his public service career. He comments on his inability to analyze the growth of the Georgia Republican party due to his nonpartisan focus in public service. He also gives his opinion about being commemorated.

Keywords: achievements; commemoration; nonpartisan; public service career