“Play It Again, Sam, the Notable Life of Sam Massell, Atlanta’s First Minority Mayor” tells the life of this over-achiever from birth as a downtown Piedmont baby through Druid Hills childhood, college life, World War II service, and four careers. The author recites Massell’s mischief as a self-described “dead-end kid,” accompanies him in young adulthood when he struggles between pride and prejudice for being Jewish, and shares today’s philosophical differences between conservative Republican colleagues and his liberal civic service history as a Democrat.
This work reports on his personal and political life, identifying warts as well as winnings. Still working full-time at age 90 in the nonprofit arena, he reflects with relief and reward on the legacy of his mayorship, that of peacefully steering Atlanta through the transformation from an all-white power structure to a predominantly black city government.
Separate chapters provide insight into his work ethic, describing successes with 20 years in commercial real estate; 22 years in elected offices; 13 years in the tourism industry, and now into his 30th year of association management. After being president of Atlanta’s city council for eight years, he was elected mayor of this city, during which time he provided MARTA (the mass transit system); developed the Omni Coliseum, and the Five Points Central City Woodruff Park all with no call on ad valorem taxes. He also pioneered minority opportunities, appointing the first female to the City Council and the first blacks as department heads in 125+ years.
Mayor Massell explains that the present chapter itemizing some of his role as founding president of the Buckhead Coalition is on-going, and points to the community’s explosive skyline built during his stewardship. The branding of Buckhead nationally as “The Address of Choice” has obviously not been by accident, and continues as his mission. Along this path, he has been inducted into the “Halls of Fame” in the fields of business, government, civil rights, hospitality and influence.
“Play It Again, Sam,” authored by Charles McNair, with Foreword by Amb. Andrew Young, is published by Mercer University Press (9/1/17, hardcover, 6” x 9”, 304 pp, 98 pictures, $29). Available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Massell and McNair will be autographing 9/2 at Decatur Book Festival, 10/12 at Buckhead’s Barnes & Noble, 11/9 at Marcus Community Center, and 11/28 at Atlanta History Center.