The following day Senator Johnson was at the airport waiting for a plane to take him to Philadelphia and a conference with Frazier's manager, Yancey Durham. (The conference, it turned out, was not immediately productive.) Why, he was asked, after so many cities—north and south—had rejected such a match, was Atlanta so unconcerned about the prospect of an Ali fight?
"I think it all goes back to Ralph McGill," he said, paying tribute to the late liberal editor of the Atlanta Constitution. "He taught whites and blacks to get along with each other. There have been some demonstrations here, but black and white leaders have had sense enough to sit down with each other and let the conference table resolve our difficulties.
"We've made greater progress in Atlanta than any other city in the South in the past 10 years."
Boxing fans, at least, would have to agree.