Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gearing Up for Olympics - and for Scarlet Sequel Sticky Southern Heat Can't Dampen Expectations - a Letter from Atlanta

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gearing Up for Olympics - and for Scarlet Sequel Sticky Southern Heat Can't Dampen Expectations - a Letter from Atlanta

Article excerpt

THE dog days of August are barking in Georgia. Heat and humidity wrap Atlanta.

But all is not sluggish here. Next month state and local politicians - under the watchful eye of the federal judiciary - reach the 10 count in drawing up new voting districts. Minority representation must reflect the 1990 census. Here Martin Luther King Jr. gave birth to the civil rights movement; the right to vote one of its enduring legacies.

Also next month, the long-awaited sequel to Margaret Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind" debuts. The original sold 28 million copies and inspired one of the greatest films of all times. The big question that folks here have had to put off "till tomorrow" will be answered: "Does Scarlet get Rhett back?"

One thing that's not being put off is expectation for the coming Olympic games. Even though it is five years distant, it is keenly anticipated already. The world is coming to town: From July 20-Aug. 4, 1996, Atlanta will host the XXVI Olympiad marking the 100th anniversary of the modern Olumpic Games. It will be the first Olympiad held in the American South and the first summer games ever held in the United States east of the Mississippi River. The urgency to bring it all off successfully is as palpable as a summer thunderstorm.

The effort to stage the games takes place in a city still comfortable calling itself a town. Famous for its boosterism and Southern hospitality, almost everyone in Atlanta welcomes the games. Independent polls show a negative response of less than 3 percent, and 130,000 residents have signed commitments to volunteer. Business interests envision a bonanza from the estimated $3.5 billion in revenues. Elected officials recognize a once-in-a-generation opportunity to turn $550 million in new construction into a quality-of-life windfall.

Core city dwellers (the city is 60 percent African-American), who watched the rapid growth of the suburbs in the last decade pass them by, harbor guarded hopes that they will directly benefit from this boom. …

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