Hawks Learn About Atlanta's History and Cultural Impact from "Day in the A"
by Cassidy Allen Chubb
"The South got something to say."
Andre 3000 said that now-iconic line at the 1995 Source Awards, and twenty-five years later those words couldn't ring truer. From Atlanta's deeply rooted history being at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, to putting southern hip-hop on the map, this city arguably sets trends and leads cultural movements. With so much history, cultural impact and influence, there's a lot to be said about the city known as the "Dirty South."
Atlanta has turned into a transplant city with people from all over, including every single player on our roster. Mid-season Hawks addition Jeff Teague is no stranger to the city he spent the first eight years of his career in, but all fifteen of his teammates don’t have that same history with Atlanta. So, Head Coach Lloyd Pierce felt it was necessary to show his players around the city that they play for.
“You guys represent the city of Atlanta from a basketball standpoint, but you have to understand what greatness looks like, what it feels like and how to surround yourself with it,” Coach Pierce said.
“Day in the A” is what Coach Pierce called the outing that spanned until the midafternoon the day after MLK Day. Stop one: the highly trafficked Outkast mural and neighboring sneaker store, Wish Atlanta in Little Five Points.
The team and coaching staff stepped off the charter bus into the 30-degree weather bundled up in hoodies and beanies. The mural, which features the iconic Grammy award-winning hip-hop duo Outkast, was unveiled late October of last year and has become a major attraction in Little Five Points. Painted by an artist by the name JEKS, the 30-foot mural is based on photos taken by portrait photographer Jonathan Mannion.
As the players made their way through the vacated lot, there were a few special guests waiting for them. Entrepreneur, activist and friend of the Hawks franchise, Killer Mike, along with Khujo, member of the iconic hip-hop group Goodie Mob. Killer Mike gave a background of his upringing in Atlanta and expressed his love for what he believes to be the greatest city for black people to thrive in, invest their money in and live in.
“I want you guys to seriously go home and not think ‘hey man I just went and saw an Outkast mural,’ I saw the beginning of a business empire,” Killer Mike said.
Coach Pierce then talked about his personal love for hip-hop and introduced Khujo who shared his history with the city and his ties with Goodie Mob.
“…Wherever you play, understand the history of the city,” Vince said. “When you do that, I think you have a greater appreciation for what it says on your jersey and the people that’s in the stands supporting you.”
After the players’ Atlanta hip-hop crash course, they gathered for photos in front of the mural and broke off to take individual ones with each other, Killer Mike, Khujo and team owner Grant Hill. The team piled back onto the white charter bus and headed to stop number two, a few minutes down the street.
Since the team recently honored the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at their game the day before, it was only right to continue honoring him by visiting The King Center for stop number two. The players explored the museum at their own pace, taking photos, reading historical information and watching videos before joining back together in the theatre. Before leaving the museum, the park ranger gave the team a preview of what they were going to see at Ebenezer Baptist Church and then at Dr. King’s childhood home.
As the players made their way up the red carpeted stairs at Ebenezer, many ducking through the entryway, the floors creaked and cracked as the players sporadically filled in the pews of the church that Dr. King served as the co-pastor of from 1960 until his death in 1968. After learning about the history of Ebenezer, the team headed to Dr. King’s burial site where they spent time briefly and then made their way to the home where Dr. King spent the first 12 years of his childhood.
The park ranger shared interesting facts about Dr. King’s birth home, one being that his father paid just $3,500 for the home with only a $500 down payment. The sidewalk in front of the home and all along the street are actually the original sidewalks from the 1930s. And, surprisingly, there are people who live in the neighboring homes.
Photos weren’t allowed inside the house, but the players were able to walk through both levels and saw all of the rooms, which still had some original King-owned furniture pieces. The team exited the house through the spacious backyard and loaded back on the bus for lunch at their last and final stop.
When the charter bus arrived at Pinky Cole’s restaurant in Westview, the players were enthusiastically greeted by Cole’s staff as they grabbed their plant-based burgers. The popular restaurant, known to have hour-long waits and lines down the street, closed its doors to the public to give Hawks players an intimate and uninterrupted experience. Once everyone had their food, it was time for one last group photo. A few players too hungry to wait, had their burgers in hand as the media snapped photos to close coach Pierce’s educational, yet fun “Day in the A.”