|Title:||Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 046 Sam Massell|
|Creator||Massell, Samuel, 1927-|
|Dates||2008 August 22|
|Repository||Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies|
|Abstract||In 1969, Sam Massell was elected as a Democrat to be the Atlanta's first Jewish mayor. He discusses his early political career and his time as mayor, including the development of MARTA, his support for the advancement of minorities, and the role of Buckhead in Atlanta and Fulton County.|
Reflections on Georgia Politics began in the fall of 2006 at Young Harris College, as a lecture and discussion program hosted by Georgia political veteran Bob Short. In late 2007, the Richard B. Russell Library began producing the program as an oral history video series to further illuminate and personalize the tectonic shifts that occurred in Georgia politics in the late twentieth century.
Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 046, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.
Resources may be used under the guidelines described by the U.S. Copyright Office in Section 107, Title 17, United States Code (Fair use). Parties interested in production or commercial use of the resources should contact the Russell Library for a fee schedule.
Samuel "Sam" Massell was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 26, 1927. His parents emigrated from Lithuania, and developed a successful real estate business in Atlanta. He graduated from the University of Georgia at 16. When members of the Democratic Executive Committee resigned due to desegregation of what was then the White Democratic Executive Committee, Massell was elected to one of the newly opened posts. He was then elected vice-mayor of Atlanta under Ivan Allen, Jr., where he served for eight years. During that time, he added representatives for various programs, including the community relations, youth, and gay rights' groups. In 1969, in a mayoral race marked by controversy and charges of anti-Semitism, Massell was elected as a Democrat to be the city's first Jewish mayor. His administration saw the development of MARTA without an ad valorem tax. He continued to sponsor the advancement of minorities, electing the first woman to the Atlanta City Council. He was also instrumental in the development of the Omni Coliseum and the Central City Woodruff Park. In 1973, Massell was defeated by his vice-mayor, Maynard Jackson. Massell went on to become the president of the Buckhead Coalition, earning him a title as the unofficial "Mayor of Buckhead."
Massell discusses the role of his father and uncle in the development of Atlanta in the early 20th century. He recalls his father publishing a monthly newspaper called the Atlanta Democrat. Massell talks about working in real estate, as a travel agent, and considering other careers before getting into politics.
Massell discusses his start as a politician on the city council of Mountain Park, Georgia, his subsequent position on the Democratic Executive Committee, and his position as President of the Board of Aldermen. Massell talks about the influence of the African American vote on his first election as President of the Board of Aldermen.
Massell recalls his experiences as mayor of Atlanta, including creating MARTA, appointing the first woman to the Atlanta City Council, and appointing the first African American department head.
Massell explains his role in the Buckhead Coalition and what the Coalition does for the community. He also discusses the role Buckhead plays in Atlanta and Fulton County.