by Nathaniel Meyersohn 15C
A month ago, when I began the writing process, I was behind on my thesis. My advisor was worried. My parents were too. Even I was not pleased with the direction my project was headed and began to question whether I was capable of dedicating three months to the challenge. My doubt vanished as soon as I settled into my new office at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry and began carving out a draft of the first chapter of my thesis on Charles L. Weltner, who represented Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District from 1963-1967. My project seeks to examine Weltner’s progressive racial attitudes and explain his vote in favor of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and the tumultuous period in the region. Building on the political history of the twentieth-century South, I feel, however slightly, that I’m contributing to our understanding of Weltner’s overlooked place in the era.
My passion for studying Weltner’s career, dormant for a semester, has awoken once again with the help of the Fox Center. The Center has not only provided me with a place to park my books and notes, but it has become my home. I spend more time at 1635 North Decatur Road than I do at my own apartment. I’ve embraced the Center’s relaxed atmosphere and often tell people that I walk around the Center in my socks.
I make coffee in the downstairs machine, read the Center’s daily subscription of The New York Times in the seminar room, and write my thesis in my shared upstairs office without my shoes. Some days I wear white Nike’s. Other days I walk around in my polka-dot blues. But I have a routine, and my fellow undergraduates and the Fox Center’s dedicated administration—Mr. Anthony, Ms. Erbil, and Ms. Barlow—accept my oddities. I had the great honor of meeting the late Bill Fox last spring while he was working for Michelle Nunn’s Senate campaign, and we emailed in the months before he passed away. I know he would have been interested in my thesis on Charles L. Weltner, who served in Congress just years before Mr. Fox began his remarkable career at Emory, and I have a feeling he would not mind my habit, either. (I promise my feet are clean.)
I’m excited to head to the office each day early in the morning, walk up the stairs, take off my shoes, and dive into the next chapter of Weltner’s career and my own growth as a writer, thinker, and historian. I’m at home.