With about 600 supporters of Historic Columbus looking on, noted author and former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw recalled his days in Atlanta and some traditions of the South during the organization’s 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee Tuesday night.
Brokaw joked that many of the names recognized at the celebration had a third at the end of their names for the organization formed since 1966 to preserve the city’s historic sites.
“I don’t think I can go any place in America and hear so many names with ‘the third’ on it,” he said at the Columbus Iron Works Convention & Trade Center.
Brokaw was guest speaker for the event. Going back to 1965, he talked about his days at WSB-TV, one of the largest stations in the South. He told a story about a colleague, radio reporter Aubrey Morris, who asked a question, “Is God Dead,” to the Rev. Billy Graham, a week after Time magazine ran a cover story on the question.
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Graham, a popular radio and television evangelist, was in Atlanta a week after the magazine story was published. Brokaw said his friend Morris stepped right up to Dr. Graham and asked, “Is God Dead?”
Brokaw said Graham looked at him and replied, “Son, of course not.”
Morris didn’t stop there. He then asked, “How do you know he is not dead?”
“Graham looked at him and said, ‘because I spoke with him this morning,’ ” Brokaw said to a crowd erupting in laughter. Brokaw said his experiences in Atlanta have stayed with him and wife Meredith over the years.
Before Brokaw stepped onto the stage, George Ginn Flowers, Historic Columbus chairman of the Board of Trustees, recognized Janice P. Biggers for her work with the organization. Ginn said she played an active role throughout the organization’s history. In 1968, Historic Columbus was one of the first organizations in the region to create a redevelopment fund to accept endangered properties, restore them and sell the property to a sympathetic buyer before repeating the process. Over the years, the organization has saved 80 properties and returned $12 million to the Muscogee County tax rolls.
For Biggers efforts, the redevelopment fund was renamed the Janice P. Biggers Revolving Redevelopment Fund.