Loy Norrix teacher shares her life-changing experience at the 1996 Olympics


Credit: Rebecca Layton

Loy Norrix teacher, Rebecca Layton, stands in the middle with friends in front of a background from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. She is taking in all the new traditions and cultures from her distinctive time at the games.

Violet Berg, Guest Writer

Loy Norrix’s psychology, sociology and women’s studies teacher Rebecca Layton recalls one of the most influential memories from her teen years as attending the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. The experience shaped both her world views and her future.

“I met people from all over the world,” Layton said.  

In the summer of 1996, the Olympics made its way to Atlanta, Georgia. Layton was given the opportunity to go with friends and attend the games for just one weekend,  which impacted who she wanted to be and how to achieve that goal. 

“We didn’t get to see anything super crazy, but it was just so cool to be in this major international event with people from all over the world,” Layton said.

Although Layton couldn’t watch significant sporting events like swimming or any of the cycling activities, she was more than excited to be a part of something so culturally diverse and something that led to such a significant cultural shift. 

According to The ‘Olympification’ of Atlanta: Transformation of the Black Mecca, the population growth in Atlanta has nearly doubled since the games. The Olympics gave Atlanta a chance to diversify even more.  

Ever since the games, the African American population has increased to over 51%.  Opportunities offered to people of color during the Olympics gave way to this sudden increase of residents. With this increase, Atlanta became the place to be. Layton was able to witness a newly transformed Atlanta which sparked her future career choice of wanting to be surrounded by various cultures. 

In addition, this experience allowed Layton to have new eye-opening conversations, ones she would remember years later.  

 “I remember this random Australian guy and I were on this subway, and he was telling me what he was thinking about Georgia and the US, and it was just this weird moment of realizing how big the world is,” Layton said.

For Layton, the 1996 Olympics opened up a new nature for her to explore. She will always have a cherished place for her time spent at the games. 

Layton said, “For someone who hates sports, I had a really good time.”