From the Periodicals Collection: Image Magazine

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Written by our friends at Athens Heritage Room.

Present-day residents of Athens-Clarke County may have come across two local publications marketed to the African American community: Zebra Magazine, a long-standing favorite, and the new Highlight Magazine, launched in 2019 and now on its fourth issue. A predecessor to these publications, Image Magazine, only lasted from 1977 to 1980 but certainly ranks as a major contribution to Athens publishing history. It captures an era that in retrospect seems marked by optimism regarding the future and respect for persons from all walks of life, despite the economic troubles of the 1970s and early ’80s. The Heritage Room thankfully has nearly a complete run of the publication in its Periodicals archival collection. A digitization effort back in 2017 led to all of the issues being available online at the Digital Library of Georgia.

Image Magazine‘s first issue (February 1977) largely featured personal profiles of local African Americans, setting the tone and scope of the periodical in the years to come. Among those highlighted were Clarke Central basketball coach James M. Crawford, as seen here.

Two regular features of the magazine also debuted in the first issue: “Church of the Month,” in this case the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, and a list of top-20 popular songs provided by Stovall’s Records (located at 1086 West Broad, a building that sadly met the wrecking ball at the same time as the Dairy Queen next door). An example of the top-20 list from the October 1977 issue is seen below. The Atlanta-based band, Brick, frequently claimed their just position on the chart.

By the second issue (March 1977), the profiles’ subjects expanded beyond the individual: in this case, the Omowale Contemporary Dance Theatre directed by Nina Civilette-Olsen. An editorial and a report on alcoholism were also included. Several photographs of the Omowale dancers in training were provided, as seen below.

In the coming months, Image especially focused on practical concerns, like choosing a profession, attaining a home-ownership loan, and eating healthily. Local lawyer, historian, and politician Michael Thurmond, in the early stages of his career, was the cover star of the September 1977 issue, while in July 1977 appropriately enough James Stovall, owner of Stovall’s Records, was profiled.

Local periodicals can be of value to historians because they often list every place where one could get a copy. The March 1977 issue lists: Stovall’s Records; Bert’s Discount Records; Spencer’s Supermarket; Franklin’s Beauty Shop; Sheats Barber and Beauty Shop; Wilson’s Barber Shop; Porter’s Beauty Center; Sanford and Son; Barnett’s Newsstand; and Bob’s Newsstand. By November 1977, that list had expanded to include Mattie’s House of Beauty and Spectrum News in Athens as well as locations in Greensboro, Elberton, Madison, and Winder.https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

With the last available regular issue of the magazine, in September 1979, Michael Thurmond was back on the cover, as the magazine celebrated his founding of Athens’ first Black law firm. On the cover with him were his partners in the firm: Larry Blount, a professor at the University of Georgia School of Law; John Clark, a recent graduate of that same law school; and two clerks, Janice Thurmond (Michael’s wife) and Hubert Grimes, another University law student.

In many issues, Image featured an interview in addition to a growing number of editorials and book reviews, all paired with an emphasis on fashion and local beauty pageants that may seem awkward at times, but does match up with the marriage and birth announcements and similar “society pages”-type material.

The featured interviewees are listed here to give researchers a quick idea of what kind of information can be found from this exemplary magazine:

September 1977: Michael Thurmond;

October 1977: James “Pete” Fair, Director of Social Services, Athens Housing Authority;

November 1977: Elizabeth R. Ireland, Principal of Chase Street School;

March 1978: reprint of September 1977 Thurmond interview;

June 1978: Edward L. Turner, a member of the Athens City Council;

July 1978: Robert J. Allen, local educator who served as Principal of Lyons Middle School and Assistant Principal of Hilsman Middle School;

August 1978: W. A. Billups, pastor at the Hill Chapel Baptist Church;https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

September 1978: Eugene T. “Doc” Holmes, the football coach at Burney-Harris High School (and Athens High and Industrial School, its earlier name);

October 1978: Corene Green, a community leader at the Jack R. Wells public-housing complex;

November 1978: Naomi Deloach, City of Athens Neighborhood Affairs Coordinator;

February 1979: W. B. Lawrence, District Manager of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company;

April 1979: James H. Alford, City of Athens Assistant Personnel Director;

May 1979: Herman Sheats, owner of Sheats Barber and Beauty Shop;

June 1979: Claudia Widdis, a sculptor who developed an arts education program at the East Athens Community Center;

July 1979: Asa T. Boynton, Associate Director of the University of Georgia’s public-safety division;

August 1979: Charles R. Mack, a member of the City Council and local educator;

September 1979: Lawrence “Night Train” Huff, an Athens native who became a nationally-known karate champion in the 1970s before returning to his hometown to work in the city’s recreation department.


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