Sips of History: Martin Luther King, Jr. & the Coca-Cola Company
Allen and Austin gathered the town’s business brahmins for a meeting at the Piedmont Driving Club. Austin addressed the crowd, issuing a scathing ultimatum: support this gala or Coke is moving. “It is embarrassing for Coca-Cola to be located in a city that refuses to honor its Nobel Prize winner,” he wrote. “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.”
The message was received loud and clear. Tickets to King’s dinner quickly sold out within two hours. Contemporary accounts described the event, itself, as a success. “It was a great and delicate moment,” Samuel DuBois Cook, a classmate of King’s, who attended the dinner told the AJC. “Because of the race issue, it could have been very explosive… It was a turning point, without question.”
Read the full article here.