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    Rock the South is moving this year, but fans of the country music festival in Cullman needn't worry. Al.com reports the festival is leaving its usual home in Heritage Park for a larger location about two miles (3.21 kilometers) away. Organizers say the site will expand from 15 acres (653400 square feet) to about 140 acres (60984 square feet), and will allow for camping, RV parking and more on-site parking. More than 65,000 people are expected at this year's event set for May 31-June 1. Producers say the 2019 lineup will be released beginning Jan. 22. Previous acts have included Eric Church, Little Big Town, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Hank Williams Jr., Luke Bryan and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
  • The New Orleans Saints are just one win away from playing in the Super Bowl right here in Atlanta, in the gleaming new stadium that’s home to their biggest, albeit title-less rival. And if they’re being honest, long-suffering Falcons fans from the mayor on down really would prefer to see the Saints fail to punch their proverbial ticket. Even for a city that’s grown accustomed to having sports-related disappointment and despair delivered in extraordinary fashion, this would be a new level of indignity. “All I can say is, we don’t need no ‘who dat’ here,” Georgia State Rep. Dewey McClain said this week, referencing the Saints’ infamous battle cry. “All I can say is, they won’t get no Capitol invite.” McClain, a linebacker-turned-legislator from Lilburn, played for the Falcons from 1976 to 1981. It was an eventful run in the rivalry that included two games decided by last-second Hail Marys and another by a blocked punt. McClain knows that this idea, Atlanta fans’ aversion to the Saints appearing in the local Super Bowl (not to mention taking over the Falcons’ practice facilities and locker room), is not a manufactured media phenomenon. It is not merely a sentiment blown out of proportion after Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms — who’s tasked with playing gracious host while her city puts on the western hemisphere’s biggest sporting event — made a joke about wanting anyone but the Saints to make it here. “I know there’s going to be a bounty on my head for saying that,” Bottoms said. “But if it can’t be the Falcons, then hey, as long as it’s not the Saints, then I’m happy.” Response from the Big Easy was quick and a lot meaner. “I’m disappointed that she felt that way, but we are still coming,” said Jay Banks, a New Orleans city councilman. “And it’s not our fault that her team sucks. I mean, if they could win, then they wouldn’t have this problem.” Ouch. RELATED STORIES: NFL announces Atlanta legend will sing National Anthem at Super Bowl LIII Atlanta rapper Big Boi to be part of Super Bowl LIII halftime show Super Bowl 53: Concerts, music festivals in Atlanta leading up to the big game ‘Welcome to the couch’ And the tension between the two cities’ fan bases is not really about a single game, either. Atlanta and New Orleans are both jewels of the New South, but in different ways. New Orleans is world-famous for having a good time, a destination steeped in a multicultural gumbo pot that’s been simmering for some 300 years, to paraphrase the city’s visitors bureau. Atlanta is the slightly bigger, slightly more serious cousin, the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement that has become an international city and continues to redefine itself. The relationship between the two cities strengthened after Hurricane Katrina turned as many as 100,000 New Orleans’ residents into accidental Atlantans — though the football rivalry didn’t really need any more juice. Part of the growing dread Atlanta fans feel is that, should the Saints should defeat the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday and then hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy in our house after a Super Bowl victory, the gloating and shaming from Saints fans would be merciless and eternal. The New England Patriots, who mounted the largest comeback in NFL history to beat the Falcons in 2017’s Super Bowl, could also make it to Atlanta, presenting the potential for even more salt in the wound. It would be a kind of worst worst-case scenario. Saints fans commemorated the Falcons blowing that 28-3 Super Bowl lead — Atlanta’s best-ever chance at getting their own Lombardi — with multiple Mardi Gras floats. “I ain’t even trying to think like that,” Maurice Combs, a 45-year-old Atlanta native, said Thursday. He’s a barber at Off the Hook barbershop in Castleberry Hill, just a few blocks south of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. “‘ Welcome to the couch,’ ” Combs said, referring to the Saints’ season coming to an end this weekend. “That’s what I want to see. Them on the couch next to us.” He’s not alone in hoping the Saints’ run ends this weekend. But there are plenty of talkative folks on the other side of things too. Kay Hackney is an administrator of the Facebook group called “Atlanta Saints Fans,” which has nearly 2,000 members. The Acworth resident said the Saints faithful are “through the roof excited” about the possibility of their team playing in “Superdome East” — a reference to New Orleans’ home stadium. “To win the Super Bowl in your most hated opponent’s stadium?” Hackney said. “Yeah, we couldn’t let them live this down. We’ll second line down Northside Drive like it’s Canal Street.” Second lines, if you’re wondering, are musical celebratory processions. The dread is real Matt Chernoff, a Dunwoody native, hosts afternoon drive on Atlanta’s 680 the Fan. His radio show, Chuck & Chernoff, heralded last week as “Aints Hate Week” — and it’s spent this week hosting “Part Deux.” “This is one of the few times that The City That’s Too Busy To Hate can really hate,” Chernoff said. “If you were born a Falcons fan, you were born to dislike the Saints.” Part of that birthright is due to the fact that Falcons-Saints games are almost always closely fought affairs. But even that is a product of a larger shared sports history. The Falcons’ first NFL season was in 1966, the Saints’ in 1967. They’ve spent more than half a century in the same division, and the first few of those decades wallowing in comparable degrees of ineptitude — meaning the bragging rights afforded by their annual matchups were often just about all the joy available for fans. “Not only do we have to represent and defend our team in New Orleans,” said Che Alexander, the senior vice president of a massive Falcons fan group called ATL Cast. “Now we have to defend our team at home.” So, you wonder: Are feelings about the Saints potential playing in Atlanta’s Super Bowl a real thing for Falcons fans? Ask Josh Garmon of Brookhaven how he feels about the possibility: “Have you ever had food poisoning? What about a stomach ulcer? How about one of those 24-hour stomach bugs?” Or ask Ruby Shackelford, a season ticket holder from Carrollton, what she thinks: “I intend to root for whoever they are playing, even if that means cheering on the Patriots.” Or ask Combs, the barber from Castleberry Hill, what he thinks the two weeks prior to the Super Bowl would be like should the Saints win on Sunday. “I plan on taking my vacation,” he said. “So I wouldn’t know.” He’s joking. Maybe. This article was written by Tyler Estep, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • As heavy rain and storms move toward metro Atlanta, now is a great time to download the FREE Severe Weather Team 2 App! Here's everything you'll get when you download the app: CUSTOM ALERTS Get severe weather alerts delivered straight to your device. 7-DAY FORECAST Plan your week or weekend with confidence with Atlanta’s 7-day forecast from Severe Weather Team 2. HOURLY WEATHER FORECAST Watch Atlanta’s most accurate hourly forecast PICTURES Browse weather-related photos from your fellow Atlantans. LIVE WEATHER RADAR Watch accurate and dependable weather radar for the metro Atlanta area. LIVE VIDEO Watch live video weather updates and news from WSB-TV. SEVERE WEATHER OUTLOOK Track severe storms for the metro Atlanta area. SCHOOL CLOSINGS Get the latest school and business closings in north Georgia. CLICK HERE for everything you need to know and information on how to download!
  • Editor’s note: For a detailed explanation about how this poll was conducted, see the end of this story. Most Georgia voters want elections conducted on paper ballots that they fill in themselves, not on ballots completed by a computer, according to a new poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The poll showed for the first time what kind of voting system Georgians prefer as legislators prepare to switch from the state’s 16-year-old digital system. The purchase of new election equipment will cost tens of millions of dollars and change how the state’s 7 million registered voters cast their ballots. About 55 percent of respondents support paper ballots bubbled in by voters, while 35 percent favor paper ballots printed by a computer. The remaining 10 percent didn’t answer. The AJC’s poll asked registered voters across Georgia about some of the state’s most important issues — including election integrity, gun rights and health care — that will be considered at the Georgia Capitol during this year’s legislative session, which started Monday.   Many voters surveyed said they’re concerned about election fairness and accuracy after last year’s heated campaign for governor, when Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams refused to concede to Republican Brian Kemp because of problems reported by voters, including flipped votes, malfunctioning voting machines, long lines and canceled voter registrations. Kemp won the race by 1.4 percentage points. TRENDING STORIES: 21-year-old accused of trafficking underage girls at hotels, suburban apartments Police: Wendy's cashier caught stealing customers' info Student causes crash to save woman's life About 53 percent of those surveyed said it was likely or very likely that obstacles to voting or problems with voting machines affected the outcome of the governor’s race. “I knew people who lived in those areas where the machines were broken and where they didn’t have enough machines. Then we found out there were so many machines in storage that weren’t used. That’s a failure of the system,” said Shawna Fitzpatrick, a college educator from Duluth. “Think about all the people whose votes didn’t get counted.” Others said allegations of election irregularities were overblown by Democrats seeking an excuse to justify Abrams’ loss. “Democrats tried to create a case for fraud and failed,” said Robert Cook, a civil engineer from Kennesaw. “There simply wasn’t any.” The poll, conducted Jan. 7 through Thursday by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, received responses from 702 registered voters across Georgia. It had a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points. The poll also showed Gov. Brian Kemp’s approval rating at just 37 percent, while nearly half of respondents said they view him unfavorably. A slight majority of Georgians support the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and 71 percent said Georgia should expand eligibility for Medicaid, the public health care program for the poor and disabled. Voters surveyed opposed proposals allowing gun owners to carry a concealed weapon without a permit and taxing internet streaming services such as Netflix to raise money for rural internet access. [RELATED:  AJC poll shows tough numbers for Kemp and a deeply divided Georgia] Paper ballots A heated debate over Georgia’s next voting system will take place at the Capitol in the coming weeks, as legislators decide how to best incorporate a paper backup along with electronic tallies. Georgia is one of the last four states to rely entirely on direct-recording electronic voting machines that lack a verifiable paper trail that could be used for recounts and audits. Most voters polled appear to trust paper ballots bubbled in with a pen over computer-printed paper ballots. But leaders in the state House and Senate have said they prefer computer-generated paper ballots, called ballot-marking devices, which require voters to use a touchscreen to make their selections and then insert a printed ballot into an optical scanning machine. And a government commission created by Kemp recommended ballot-marking devices this month in a report to the General Assembly. “I favor writing it instead of having it electronic because anybody could tamper with the machines,” said Oriente Lowe, a utility locator from Warner Robins. “If someone is tampering with electronic machines, you can’t trace the evidence.” Critics of Georgia’s electronic voting machines say they could be hacked to change election results. Some voters reported that the machines flipped their votes from one candidate to another in November’s election. And a lawsuit that was dismissed Fridayblamed the machines for suspiciously low vote totals in the lieutenant governor’s race. “If we have to switch, I’d rather it be filled out by a pen so there’s no question about it,” said Steven Ordahl, who works in the electronics industry and lives in Alpharetta. “What do you trust and what don’t you trust? I’d say do it by pen because then it’s in your hand and there’s no doubt about it.” Supporters of ballot-marking devices say they’d help prevent mistakes from voters using a pen and paper. Because ballot-marking devices have touchscreens, they’re similar to the the system that Georgia voters are used to. They also can accommodate voters with vision or hearing disabilities. “In today’s age of pen and paper, just marking it with a pen is a little bit outdated,” said Pam Glaze, who lives outside Waynesboro south of Augusta. “We’ve got to have some sort of a better check and balance” to ensure elections are accurate. Younger voters preferred paper ballots more than older voters, according to the poll. About 75 percent of voters between ages 18 and 29 said Georgia should move to a system with paper ballots filled in by voters. Among voters over 65, about 48 percent wanted paper ballots filled in by voters and 40 percent favored paper ballots filled in by a computer. Kemp’s proposed budget includes $150 million for a new voting system, which would provide state legislators funding for ballot-marking devices, which are more expensive than paper ballots filled out by hand. Hand-marked paper ballots could cost roughly $30 million or more. Nearly half of those surveyed also disagree with Georgia’s practice of canceling the registrations of voters who don’t participate in several consecutive elections. More than 1.4 million voter registrations were canceled while Kemp was secretary of state from 2010 to 2018 for a variety of reasons including inactivity, death, duplicate registrations and felony convictions. About 47 percent said they opposed the state’s voter registration cancellation policy, and 41 percent supported it. A bill introduced by House Minority Leader Bob Trammell, a Democrat from Luthersville, would prevent the government from purging voter registrations just because they didn’t participate in a recent election. Trammell’s legislation will face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled General Assembly. Most voters, 67 percent, said Georgia should leave its three-week early-voting period unchanged after more than half of voters cast their ballots in advance of Election Day in November. Nearly one-quarter of voters supported more time for early voting, and 6 percent said it should be reduced. Health care A large majority of voters said Georgia should expand Medicaid, continuing their long-term support of insuring more people. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed said the state should expand Medicaid, which is in line with the 73 percent of Georgians who backed growing the public health insurance program in an AJC poll last January. Almost all Democrats in the poll — 97 percent — backed Medicaid expansion. Among those who labeled themselves as independents, 73 percent supported Medicaid expansion. Republicans generally opposed the proposal, with 49 percent saying Medicaid shouldn’t be expanded. Forty percent of Republicans favored the expansion. Kemp said in his State of the State address that he would seek flexibility from the federal government to expand Medicaid access, but not as fully as Democrats would like. He backs a federal waiver to the Medicaid program, as has been done in other Republican-led states, that could expand health coverage for the poor and disabled. Those kinds of waivers could include work requirements for some Medicaid recipients. Most voters in the AJC’s poll said they support the Trump administration’s proposal to allow more states to require adults without disabilities to be working or looking for work in order to be eligible for Medicaid. About 66 percent backed a Medicaid work requirement, and 28 percent opposed it. Raising cigarette taxes is also a popular proposal, with 73 percent of those surveyed saying they should be increased. Georgia has one of the lowest cigarette tax rates in the nation, at 37 cents per pack. But House Speaker David Ralston said he generally doesn’t support raising taxes, including on cigarettes. Because smoking is on the decline throughout the United States, Ralston said cigarette taxes wouldn’t generate a “dependable revenue stream.” Gun rights A proposal to allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons without having to obtain a permit was unpopular among those surveyed. About 83 percent said they oppose the idea. Even among Republicans, who generally support gun rights, 75 percent said Georgia shouldn’t enact the idea. “I grew up around guns in my home, but with all the violence today, I don’t think so many people should be carrying them,” said Robin Wolf, who is retired and lives in Roswell. “Many people don’t practice, and they could be too quick to shoot someone, and an innocent bystander can get hit.” James McNutt, a retired Marine from Dawsonville, said gun owners should be required to have a permit from the government. “You’ve got to have training. Just because you own a gun doesn’t mean you know how to use it,” McNutt said. “One of my combat tours (in Vietnam), in about 15 minutes my unit expended 90 percent of the ammo shooting at shadows. It took me one day to teach them discipline.” Internet tax An effort by rural Georgia lawmakers to impose a 4 percent tax on Netflix and other digital goods faces broad opposition from the public. The idea would raise money to help subsidize internet construction in rural areas, where 16 percent of households lack high-speed online access. The proposal would also lower or eliminate some existing taxes charged for phone lines and cable TV. But across political parties and geography, the AJC’s poll showed that most of those surveyed dislike the proposal. Only 28 percent supported the tax while 66 percent were against it. Even those who live outside metro Atlanta, where revenue from a digital goods tax would be spent, said they oppose the proposal. “Everyone can’t have a Cadillac just because the Joe Blow down the road has a Cadillac,” said Glaze, the voter who lives near Waynesboro. “We’re not all the same. Don’t give handouts to everybody.” How the poll was conducted The poll was conducted January 7-17, 2019 and included a total of 702 registered voters in Georgia. The survey was administered by the School of Public and International Affairs Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia. Interviews were conducted in English. The sample included 65 percent cell phone numbers and 35 percent landline numbers and was obtained through Self Made Insights Company (SMI is a sampling vendor that maintains a database constructed from state voter registration lists. Through commercial sources, phone numbers have been added to the individual records (registrants) that make up these lists). The survey results were weighted to ensure the sample was representative of the registrant population in terms of race, sex, and age. The margin of error for the total sample is 3.7 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. This would mean that if 50 percent of respondents indicate a topline view on an issue, we can be 95 percent confident that the population’s view on that issue is somewhere between 53.7 percent and 46.3 percent. Note  This survey queried registered voters in Georgia and was weighted to be representative of that population in terms of race, age, and sex. The registrant population is not the same as the electorate that voted in the general election in 2018. The AJC election polls conducted in the fall of 2018 surveyed likely general election voters and were weighted to reflect predicted turnout for the general election that year. Polling registered voters is standard practice in non-election years. This story was originally published by The Atlanta-Journal-Constitution
  • The Georgia Department of Transportation is spending $79 million to resurface worn stretches of highway, build and repair bridges and make intersections safer on state highways. The state DOT awarded contracts on 16 total projects at the end of December. The largest contract is for a $30.9 million project to resurface nearly 26 miles (42 kilometers) of Interstate 85 spanning from the Georgia-Alabama state line to Highway 219 south of LaGrange. Another 10 resurfacing contracts worth $34 million were also awarded. The agency is spending another $12.5 million on Georgia bridges, including $2.85 million to build a new bridge over the Oconee River in Jackson County. Another $2 million was awarded for safety improvements multiple to highway intersections in DeKalb and Fulton counties.
  • The Braves’ annual Chop Fest fan event is still scheduled for Saturday at SunTrust Park. A team representative said Friday that the event will take place “rain or shine.” Many of the events are scheduled for indoors, and the spokesman said the field will remain open “even in the rain.” The Chop Fest is scheduled for 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the park and The Battery Atlanta. Activities include baseball clinics, autograph sessions, photo opportunities with players, interactive attractions, live entertainment and Q&A sessions.  There is no charge for admission to the event, but there will be charges for some of the autograph sessions, and the Braves said the money from those will go to the Atlanta Braves Foundation. Though these are all subject to change, confirmed player appearances include Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies, Kolby Allard, Jesse Biddle, Johan Camargo, Shane Carle, Charlie Culberson, Grant Dayton, Adam Duvall, Tyler Flowers, Freddie Freeman, Sam Freeman, Max Fried, Kevin Gausman, Ender Inciarte, Luke Jackson, A.J. Minter, Sean Newcomb, Darren O’Day, Wes Parsons, Austin Riley, Chad Sobotka, Mike Soroka, Dansby Swanson, Julio Teheran, Touki Toussaint, Jonny Venters, Arodys Vizcaíno, Jacob Webb, Patrick Weigel, Bryse Wilson, Dan Winkler and Kyle Wright. Confirmed appearances by Braves leadership include Braves legends Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz, manager Brian Snitker and coaches Jose Castro, Sal Fasano, Marty Reed, Kevin Seitzer, Ron Washington, Walt Weiss and Eric Young Sr.  The day begins with a Leadoff Chop Rally at the Plaza at 10 a.m. and will include a “uniform showcase” in which “subtle uniforms updates” for the 2019 season will be unveiled. All information can be found at www.braves.com/chopfest, but here is a list of activities: 10 a.m.  Leadoff Chop Rally – The Plaza Everyone Runs the Bases – SunTrust Park Field (10-11 a.m.) Photos with Chip Caray from Fox Sports South – Coca-Cola Roxy 10:30 a.m.  Braves 2019 Fashion Show – Konica Minolta Conference Center Blooper’s Book Club, with Braves players reading children’s books – Spaces at The Battery Atlanta 11 a.m.  Hitting clinic with Braves coaches and players – SunTrust Park Infield 11:30 a.m.   2019 Uniform Showcase – LIVE! at The Battery Atlanta Kids-only news conference – Spaces at The Battery Atlanta Base-running clinic with Braves coaches and players – SunTrust Park Infield Noon  Pitching clinic with Braves coaches and players – SunTrust Park Infield Photos with Paul Byrd from Fox Sports South – Coca-Cola Roxy 12:30 p.m.  Panel with 2018 national award winners – Konica Minolta Conference Center Fielding clinic with Braves coaches and players – SunTrust Park Infield Photos with Blooper – Spaces at The Battery Atlanta 1 p.m.  Blooper’s Book Club, with Braves players reading children’s books – Spaces at The Battery Atlanta Everyone Runs the Bases – SunTrust Park field (1-3 p.m.) 1:30 p.m.  Braves coaches panel – Konica Minolta Conference Center 2:30 p.m.  State of the Team Address with Alex Anthopoulos – Georgia Power Pavilion Stage Kids-only news conference – Spaces at The Battery Atlanta Photos with Kelsey Wingert from Fox Sports South – Coca-Cola Roxy 3 p.m.  Hitting clinic with Braves coaches and players – SunTrust Park Infield 3:30 p.m.  Los Bravos Q&A bilingual panel – Konica Minolta Conference Center Base-running clinic with Braves coaches and players – SunTrust Park Infield Photos with Blooper – Spaces at The Battery Atlanta 4 p.m.  Blooper’s Book Club, with Braves players reading children’s books – Spaces at The Battery Atlanta Base-running clinic with Braves coaches and players – SunTrust Park Infield Photos with Nick Green from Fox Sports South – Coca-Cola Roxy 4:30 p.m.  Pitching 101 panel – Konica Minolta Conference Center Fielding clinic with Braves coaches and players – SunTrust Park infield 5 p.m.  Everyone Runs the Bases – SunTrust Park Field (5-6 p.m.) 5:15 p.m.  Photos with Blooper – Spaces at The Battery Atlanta Throughout the Day Free kids sautograph session (age-restricted 3-14) – SunTrust OnUp Experience  Autograph sessions (*Pre-sold only) – The Omni Hotel On-field activities (Catch on the Field, Throw in the Bullpen, Hit in the Cage, Pop Fly Challenge) – SunTrust Park field Stickball presented by Los Bravos – Power Alley in The Battery Atlanta Player photo stations – Below the Chop, Braves Dugout, Infiniti Club, Xfinity Rooftop Atlanta Braves Foundation yard sale – Concourse Section 138 Los Bravos Zona de Fiesta – Left-field gate inside SunTrust Park Hope & Will’s Sandlot – Free all day inside SunTrust Park Chop Fest Gaming Center – Infiniti Club Giant bobblehead Photos – SunTrust Park, lower level
  • These Georgia lotteries were drawn Friday: 3C-5C-10C-7H-8H (3C, 5C, 10C, 7H, 8H) 02-04-05-06-07-08-13-14-18-22-23-24 (two, four, five, six, seven, eight, thirteen, fourteen, eighteen, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four) 03-04-06-08-09-10-12-17-18-20-22-24 (three, four, six, eight, nine, ten, twelve, seventeen, eighteen, twenty, twenty-two, twenty-four) 01-04-07-08-09-11-14-16-17-19-21-22 (one, four, seven, eight, nine, eleven, fourteen, sixteen, seventeen, nineteen, twenty-one, twenty-two) 01-02-04-05-06-11-14-16-19-22-23-24 (one, two, four, five, six, eleven, fourteen, sixteen, nineteen, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four) 8-1-7 (eight, one, seven) 5-1-7 (five, one, seven) 7-4-9 (seven, four, nine) 0-7-0-3 (zero, seven, zero, three) 6-0-1-5 (six, zero, one, five) 1-6-9-9 (one, six, nine, nine) 06-16-18-26-37 (six, sixteen, eighteen, twenty-six, thirty-seven) Estimated jackpot: $150,000 2-2-5-7-8 (two, two, five, seven, eight) 4-6-5-6-3 (four, six, five, six, three) 02-43-48-62-64, Mega Ball: 24, Megaplier: 3 (two, forty-three, forty-eight, sixty-two, sixty-four; Mega Ball: twenty-four; Megaplier: three) Estimated jackpot: $68 million Estimated jackpot: $129 million
  • The winning numbers in Saturday morning's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's 'All or Nothing Morning' game were: 03-04-08-10-11-12-13-16-17-18-21-22 (three, four, eight, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, twenty-one, twenty-two)
  • Gladys Knight predictably received a mix of praise and criticism for her decision to sing the national anthem at this year’s Super Bowl. All of the artists who have agreed to participate in anything related to the Feb. 3 game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium have endured the same response - some fans delight in their inclusion and others classify their involvement as selling out to the NFL. Critics believe that anyone performing at a Super Bowl-related event is endorsing their treatment of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who hasn’t played since 2016 after his peaceful protest of “taking a knee” during the anthem. But in a statement to Variety, Atlanta-native Knight, 74, reiterated what many fail to remember about Kaepernick’s protest – it was never about the anthem. “I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice. It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone,” she wrote. RELATED STORIES: NFL announces Atlanta legend will sing National Anthem at Super Bowl LIII Atlanta rapper Big Boi to be part of Super Bowl LIII halftime show Super Bowl 53: Concerts, music festivals in Atlanta leading up to the big game “I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the Anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good — I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s Anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LII. “No matter who chooses to deflect with this narrative and continue to mix these two in the same message, it is not so and cannot be made so by anyone speaking it. I pray that this National Anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us.” Last weekend, the NFL finally unveiled its full Super Bowl halftime performance lineup – the long-rumored Maroon 5, along with Travis Scott and Atlanta’s Big Boi (who, according to his publicist, is not doing press because “he is recording”). Scott and Kaepernick had a conversation before Scott officially agreed to play the Super Bowl, but there have been varying accounts about the outcome of their chat. Kaepernick’s girlfriend, Nessa Feddi, has said that despite reports to the contrary, ”There is NO mutual respect and there is NO understanding for anyone working against” Kaepernick. This article was written by Melissa Ruggieri, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • A collection of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s papers on display in Atlanta provides insight into the slain civil rights leader's thought processes as he drafted some of his most well-known speeches and notable sermons. 'The Meaning of Hope: The Best of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection' is set to open Saturday at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. It is timed to commemorate what would have been King's 90th birthday on Jan. 15 and to attract people visiting Atlanta for the Super Bowl next month. The Voice to the Voiceless gallery at the center plays host to exhibits of King's papers from the Morehouse collection that rotate every four months. Organizers intended this particular exhibit to showcase the 'best of the best,' papers that people would instantly recognize without much explanation. 'It's kind of getting people to understand the best of the popular, the best of the familiar, the best of the things that make them embrace King for the icon that we've made him,' said Nicole Moore, manager of education and museum content at the center. There are drafts of his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance and 'Beyond Vietnam' speeches and of his eulogy for four girls who died when Ku Klux Klan members bombed a church in Birmingham, Alabama. In drafts and outlines of speeches and sermons, both typed and written out longhand, words and entire lines are crossed out and rewritten. Even an already published copy of 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' is marked with further handwritten edits. The exhibit also provides visitors an opportunity to go beyond King's most familiar words to learn something new, said Lauren Tate Baeza, head of content for the center. 'It gives us an opportunity to tell a story that maybe they didn't know about something that they very much know,' she said. For example, most people are familiar with King's iconic 'I Have a Dream' speech, but they may not know that he largely improvised when he delivered that speech, departing from his text titled 'Normalcy, Never Again,' Baeza said. A draft of that speech with King's notes is part of the exhibition. Also included in the exhibition are King's school transcripts — including one from Crozer Theological Seminary where he got a C in public speaking — and the briefcase he had with him when he was assassinated in 1968 and its contents, including aspirin and shaving powder. 'That gives people an idea, not as a scholar or as a minister, but King as a person, what he had on him, what he carried around,' Moore said. It's important to humanize him — to display his everyday items, his transcripts with average grades and the drafts of speeches with sections scratched out — because that makes him more accessible and can help inspire others to follow his example, Baeza said. 'I think we want people to walk away feeling they can have an impact,' she said. In addition to King's papers, a new permanent art installation called 'Fragments' is making its debut just outside the gallery. Designed by Paula Scher and Abbot Miller, 50 metal panels are scrawled with King's handwriting cut by laser and illuminated from behind. The sculpture is meant to give viewers insight into King's thought process. 'It's him speaking for himself,' Baeza said. 'There you are — you're in his mind.