The biggest public event in Atlanta during O'Connor's stay, if not in the city's entire cultural history, was the grand premiere of Gone With the Wind. …
On the evening of December 15, 1939, five giant searchlights clashed like crossed swords above Loew's Grand Theatre downtown. Confederate flags whipped in the wind along Peachtree Street as the lead actors Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh and the novelist Margaret Mitchell arrived. Pathe and Movietone crews filmed more than two thousand celebrities, and the governors of five Southern states, disappearing into a lavish façade redone as a Greek Revival plantation home. Many of these Confederate-themed festivities stretched out over the entire week, enacted along a fault line of Jim Crow tension. The black actress Hattie McDaniel, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Mammy, was not invited to the premiere. The sixty-voice Ebenezer Baptist Church Choir, directed by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr., entertained at a whites-only Junior League ball associated with the opening event; choir members, including the ten-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr., were dressed as slaves.