Immediately after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, plans for an interracial celebratory dinner in still-segregated Atlanta were not initially supported by the city’s business elite.

It was the CEO of The Coca-Cola Company in 1964, Mr. J. Paul Austin, who confronted the city’s business leaders directly, saying “it is embarrassing forCoca-Cola to be located in a city that refuses to honor its Nobel Prize winner. We are an international business. The Coca-Cola Co. does not need Atlanta. You all need to decide whether Atlanta needs The Coca-Cola Co.

Within two hours of that meeting, every ticket to the dinner was sold.

To this day, The Coca-Cola Company enjoys both significant loyalty and overwhelming market share support from the African-American community, both here in Atlanta and across the nation. Smartly and strategically exporting its values and business mantra, the company is today both the market share leader clear across Africa, and the African continent’s largest employer, too.

Recognizing the need to refresh and reaffirm these values for successive generations, The Coca-Cola system has committed $1 million dollars to Operation HOPE to provide financial education to women and girls living in the southeastern United States. The award will fund the expansion and delivery of our nationally-acclaimed financial literacy, career training and entrepreneurship programs.

Read the full, complete article here at Coca-Cola Journey.

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A special thank you to Ms. Lisa Borders, Chair of the Coca-Cola Foundation, for her strong leadership here. She and her team ‘get’ the power of financial and economic inclusion for women and girls, as a source of newfound freedom in their lives.  Because of her, hope will spring eternal for many.  Today, she lit a candle for the future. Our futures…

John Hope Bryant