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Auditorium may be renamed for Johnson

Blue skies float over the Albany Municipal Auditorium Tuesday afternoon. City Commissioners are researching the feasibility of naming the structure for civil rights leader Johnnie Johnson.

Blue skies float over the Albany Municipal Auditorium Tuesday afternoon. City Commissioners are researching the feasibility of naming the structure for civil rights leader Johnnie Johnson.

— ALBANY — City officials tasked the city manager and city attorney Tuesday with researching the feasibility of naming the Albany Municipal Auditorium for a local civil rights leader.

After years of debate among city leaders and the family of Johnnie Johnson, the former city employee who stood against segregated facilities for municipal employees, Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike said it appeared that the auditorium had emerged as the best candidate.

“We’ve taken a look at a few places, and it appears as if the municipal auditorium is a possibility,” Pike said.

City leaders offered to name the plaza in front of the government center for Johnson, but his family balked at the idea, suggesting instead that they name the new Broad Avenue Bridge for him instead.

When it was determined that the bridge not only belongs to the state and is dedicated to veterans of World War I, city leaders offered to research possible properties that were absent a name and found the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, the Law Enforcement Center and the auditorium.

The current-day auditorium is one of the most iconic images of downtown Albany.

Built in 1915, the auditorium was built as an extension of the Chautauqua Meeting Hall, a place where thousands from around the Southeast would come to celebrate literature, religion, music and the arts.

While the Chatauqua Meeting Hall has long since been renovated and expanded, its earliest establishments are still impacting the facility today, according to some digging done by city officials.

City Attorney Nathan Davis, following a title examination Tuesday of the handwritten deeds, said the Chataugua Association deeded the former hall to the city of Albany in 1912 with a revert clause that says if the city doesn’t follow a series of guidelines, the property will revert back to the Chautaugua Association.

“As it turned out, the Chatauqua Association deeded it to the city way back in 1912 with the provision that (the city) would repair and maintain it,” Davis said. “By 1998, the city conveyed it to the (Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority), and, in the deed, ADICA is in effect the owner and is responsible for doing the necessary repairs and upkeep on it.

“There is a revert clause, so if it’s not kept in good repair and used for a public purpose, it goes back to the association.”

Some of the more notable guests of the Chautaugua Association were presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan and former confederate general James Longstreet.

Comments

dingleberry 2 years, 8 months ago

Why can't we just leave it as the Municipal Auditorium. Nice and simple and actually makes sense. Does every road or building or park bench or light pole have to be named after someone?

I don't want to run the risk of being stopped on the street and asked by an out-of-towner, or even a local for that matter, "How do I get to your Johnson?". .

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VSU 2 years, 8 months ago

I am with you, they should just leave the names like they are. Not everything has to be named after somebody.

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anybody 2 years, 8 months ago

The same way you get to the Albany James H Gray Civic Center...

in response to: "How do I get to your Johnson?".

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tywebb 2 years, 8 months ago

naming something after someone just for the sake of naming it after someone is stupid! Did mr. johnson perform at the auditorium? did he help build it? If so, then consider naming it after him. when there is a new public works office built, that would be something to name after him. yaz, he didn't even name his own son after himself, so why should the city name a building after him? this isn't a personal thing, it's a general thing for me. i think it's ridiculous

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chinaberry25 2 years, 8 months ago

Ty that is a very good idea. If any building named it should be one that he worked at or had dealings with. What about the bus station. It is new and coming up. This is not a slight, but many folks and the marches dealt with bus station. Just a thought.

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ibatester 2 years, 8 months ago

Why can't the Civil Rights Museum be named for him? Isn't that a more appropiate venue to honor his legacy?

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GMoney38 2 years, 8 months ago

Leave the names like they are. People that has grew up in Albany the building as the names they are now.

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Cartman 2 years, 8 months ago

I'm sure that Mr. Johnson was a nice man, but why do we have to appease his son, Yaz Johnson? Who is he? Is the criteria for having something named after your father, that you simply hound the City Commission into submission? What did Johnson do? Didn't he sue the city? If this was enough, then Phoebe Putney would be named the Bagnato/Rehberg Monolith Hospital. Why doesn't someone politely and simply tell Mr. Yaz Johnson that we will not be naming anything after his father, so we can end this persistent issue. Suggest that he approach someone else. Maybe they can name ASU after him; or rename the river; or Chehaw or something. And if something is named after him - please don't make it his full name with punctuation. The easiest solution is to name things after someone because of the community's sentiment is to do so - not just a persistent family member.

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albanyherald1 2 years, 8 months ago

AMEN!! That is exactly what he is doing. Hounding the City Commission to death until he gets what he wants. Stop trying to appease him by stalling and just say "NO". End of story.

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bubbavet 2 years, 8 months ago

I still like the sewage plant.

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VSU 2 years, 8 months ago

Or even the Dougherty County Jail. A lot of his friends are probably there anyway.

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Citizen_A 2 years, 8 months ago

This is ridiculous... if he had been a huge benefactor for the arts, then I would say go for it....If there was a reason to rename the auditorium, there are more deserving people who should take presedence over Mr. Johnson. Mr. Johnson's son may just have to live with the fact that there is no appropriate venue to name after his father. Maybe he should contact one of the local organizations and partner with them on some scholarship fund. Begging for something to be named after his father is only turning it into a joke.

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43cop 2 years, 8 months ago

Persistant is a nice word for Yaz. Aggravating is even better and I agree to just tell him NO!!!!!!!! Enought is enought.

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GOBEME 2 years, 8 months ago

My father was a Marine who severed his COUTRY for 23 years and servived Viet Nam twice can and we live in Albany. Can he have something named for him? Enough is enough, just honor your father and be HAPPY!!

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VietVet1 2 years, 8 months ago

How about putting up a chalk board by Ray Charles park and anytime someone wants to dedicate a "name" have them write it on the chalk board. Then the next person can do likewise, etc. etc.. And if someone really cares have them take a picture.

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waltspecht 2 years, 8 months ago

Willie Pitts had a street (in a not too great neighborhood) named after him. In comparison to being the most decorated veteran in the area, what was Mr. Johnsons feat to deserve a building named after him?

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agirl_25 2 years, 8 months ago

Captain Willie Pitts was the MOST decorated soldier in the state of Georgia.......with the Legion of Merit with two Silver Stars, six Bronze Stars, four Purple Hearts, and two Meritorious Service Medals. I say the auditorium should be named after Willie Pitts if it is to be named after anyone! LET'S HEAR IT FOR WILLIE PITTS...........If we are going to toss names around I want to toss his in the ring..............TOSS TOSS TOSS TOSS............. (PS..but the chalkboard is a nice idea).

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 8 months ago

I think I drove my vehicle on Willie Pitts Blvd just this morning.

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Cartman 2 years, 8 months ago

Why doesn't Yaz Johnson use his own money to pay for something to name after his father? Why do other people have to pay for it?

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 8 months ago

Maybe if we can get all the "activist entities" around the city, county, and region to sign off on this as the "LAST AND FINAL TIME" that something must be named after some so-called (legend in his own mind) civil rights hero.......it might be worth it!!

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TrixibelleBento 2 years, 8 months ago

As Nancy Reagan said, "just say no". Let the squeaky wheel whine.

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 8 months ago

Ok I know I am stepping in it But here goes.

Like it or not and agree with his actions or not Johnnie Johnson did help Albany to move forward with equal rights. I for one think we should name something after Johnson out of respect of the hardship he took on himself to make Albany a better place for the generations to come. There is no connection between Johnson and the Municipal Auditorium and there has to be something that is more appropriate than the Municipal Auditorium. I want to say there is a new Wellness Center for city employees and as a former city employee wouldn’t it be appropriate to name a building helping city employees have a healthier future after a former city employee who helped improve other city employee’s futures.

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firefly 2 years, 8 months ago

Can we really say that Albany has moved "forward"... racism is alive and well here. And it flows both ways.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 8 months ago

Just like the sewage plant.........flows both ways.............

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 8 months ago

Yes we can say "forward". Sadly it has to be measured in inches and not leaps and bounds.

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southwestga 2 years, 8 months ago

It's 'Chautauqua' - guess three out of six mentions being spelled correctly is a start.

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 8 months ago

Maybe J.D. did not get the updates for his DOS2.0 spell check :-). Good catch.

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