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  • Originally published 08/12/2013

    Did Coca Cola originate in Spain?

    Locals believe that the Spanish town of Aielo de Malferit is where Coca-Cola originated -- and that the factory which developed the formula that inspired the world's best-selling soda has been cheated of its rightful place in history. Not to mention profits.It's allegedly the birthplace of the world's best-known soft drink, but these days, it's looking a little run-down. Lined with houses that are for sale, the streets of Aielo de Malferit in the province of Valencia are deserted. With the younger generation escaping chronic unemployment and moving to major cities such as Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid, only the elderly still live here.Gray-haired and bespectacled, 74-year-old Juan Micó wears a white lab coat as he pours a brown liquid into a thin glass tube. Shards of pale sunlight filter through the grimy windows of his factory, and a smell of damp wood pervades the air. "The grated kola nut and herbs blended with alcohol mature in a clay jug for a month," he explains. "What happens then is a secret." ...

  • Originally published 06/04/2013

    Taronda Spencer, 54: Spelman College archivist, historian

    As the archivist at Spelman College, Taronda Spencer was responsible for preserving the past. At the same time, she had a tremendous impact on the future of the college and its students.A 1980 graduate of Spelman, Spencer became the institution’s archivist in 1998 and the college’s historian in 2000. In those roles she routinely helped researchers, and anyone else who may have been looking, find information among the collections of papers and memorabilia that belong to the school.“Taronda’s job as the college archivist was unique,” said Beverly Guy-Sheftall, professor of women’s studies and founding director of the Spelman College Women’s Research and Resource Center. “We were looking for someone who had the qualifications of a college archivist, but who would also work within the Women’s Center unit, because we were also interested in fostering research on African-American women.”...On May 17, two days before graduation, Taronda Elise Spencer, of Atlanta, fell ill while at a Spelman function that evening. She died later that night after suffering a massive heart attack. She was 54....

  • Originally published 02/28/2013

    Universities, theaters in 4 cities to join in creating new theatrical productions on Civil War

    WASHINGTON — Four major universities are joining theater companies in Boston, Baltimore, Washington and Atlanta in a project to commission new plays, music and dance compositions about the Civil War and its lasting legacy.The National Civil War Project announced Thursday in Washington will involve programming over the next two years to mark the 150th anniversary of the war between North and South. Beyond commissioning new works, organizers plan for university faculty to integrate the arts into their academic programs on campus....

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    Grace Elizabeth Hale: When Jim Crow Drank Coke

    Grace Elizabeth Hale, a professor of history and American studies at the University of Virginia, is the author, most recently, of “A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love With Rebellion in Postwar America.”THE opposition by the New York State chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s restrictions on sugary soda caught many Americans by surprise. But it shouldn’t: though the organization argues it is standing up for consumer choice and minority business owners, who it claims would be hurt, this is also a favor for a stalwart ally — Coca-Cola alone has given generously to support N.A.A.C.P. initiatives over the years.This is more than a story of mutual back-scratching, though. It is the latest episode in the long and often fractious history of soft drinks, prohibition laws and race.

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