Interview with Emma Darnell
QUESTION 8
JACKIE SHEARER:

So I'd like you to give us the flavor of the warfare that was being waged around these issues then.

EMMA DARNELL:

Well the, ah, warfare which raged around the city's vigorous enforcement of the law of this country as well as the law of the city of Atlanta, ah, during this period, ah, ah, really was a surprise. I think that's the first thing that I want to say. I, I know it's very hard looking back now to believe that we were so naive as to believe that we would be applauded by taking positive steps to go out and, and, ah, include rather than exclude American citizens from the government. Ah, I can say to you in all fairness we were shocked and we were surprised, not only about the intensity of the opposition which we received from the business community, certain elements of the business community, ah, and from certain contractors who had become rich at the city's expense, ah, but we also were very much surprised at how devious and how, ah, deadly the opposition was. The opposition was expressed, ah, primarily through the local newspaper. Then, I might add, under little different management. Which began immediately when it was clear, when it was clear that we would not retain the same architect and the same engineer that we had used at Atlanta airport for more than sixteen years. And I can recall Maynard Jackson having a meeting with the architect, with the engineer, with representatives from Delta Airlines where he said very clearly, "The contracts, you know, are non-existing." When that became clear then we began to be subject to the kind of attack in the local newspaper beginning with about mid-1974 that never let up, ah, ah, for the most part of the next two and a half years. First the attacks were on the concept of joint venture. Then there were a series of grand jury investigations. Ah, there was a grand jury investigation of--and believe it or not--the joint venture. I think that perhaps not in the history of America has a grand jury, ah, looked at a strategy of a procurement operation before. Then there was a grand jury investigation by the United States, the federal, ah, grand jury. Then there were a series of articles about, ah, ah, who is Emma Darnell. A series of articles suggesting that the mayor could not possibly have enough intelligence and integrity to meet the requirements of his office and vigorously enforce the law that was discriminating against Black people. There had to be a Black woman really behind him, pushing him. And of course, this has, this has, had been done before in Atlanta. Ah, I can recall when Hank Aaron objected to the blatant discrimination which he was experiencing at one time. We opened the paper one morning and there was his wife's picture on the sports pages saying. "Is this the problem?" So that was, that was a consistent, ah, ah, pattern. And then it became so ridiculous, ah, at one point until I can recall that there was a story one evening, ah, in the newspaper made up entirely of "sources say". It didn't have a beginning. It didn't have a end. It didn't have any point. Ah, it was strictly a personality profile, ah, of Emma Darnell.