Teach the World to Sing in Perfect Harmony

Seven years before Coke aired its iconic peace-and-harmony I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke  TV ad, the company's CEO staked out a controversial position in Atlanta, GA, the home of the company's headquarters. From Now I Know:

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929. On October 14, 1964, he became the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize.  And his home town of Atlanta wanted to throw him a party: an inter-racial banquet, with official invitations going to the city’s leaders and titans of industry.  The invites were signed by the city’s mayor, religious leaders from across faiths, a university president, and the publisher of the major area newspaper.

Unfortunately, Atlanta was still racially segregated, and while King had many fans, he also had many enemies.  Many whites were upset that King had been honored by the Nobel committee… Invitations to the highly exclusive event came back with many more declinations than one would expect…

Mayor Allen and J. Paul Austin, the chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, called together a meeting of the Atlanta’s business leaders, and Austin threw down the gauntlet.  According to the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, Austin told those assembled that “it is embarrassing for Coca-Cola to be located in a city that refuses to honor its Nobel Prize winner. We are an international business. The Coca-Cola Company does not need Atlanta. You all need to decide whether Atlanta needs the Coca-Cola Company.”

They decided.  Within two hours, all of the tickets were sold…

For your viewing pleasure today we have two videos – the Coke ad mentioned above and Dr. King's I Have a Dream speech. Enjoy.

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