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Voices of the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta

In 1960 students from the Atlanta University Center set out to desegregate Atlanta. While the Black leaders were trying to gain equality through the courts, the students were picketing Rich’s, A&P, Grady, Woolworths and many other establishments. For their efforts they were arrested, attacked, beaten and spit on. They were also accused by some in their own community of creating problems and disrupting business.

Student Leader Lonnie King told us why, “We did not get the support from the black power structure that we should have gotten. But I think it all was based on the fact that many of them did not want to be displaced because they enjoyed certain privileges. Atlanta was a controlled town. Key people in the black community could call the shots and when we started this movement that upset that status-quo.”

Lonnie explained why Richs was the main target of the boycotts - “if we could knock down Rich’s, the rest of the places, that are much smaller than Rich’s, would fall in line. That was our theory and that was what actually worked for us. That’s why we focused on Rich’s, because we wanted to bring down their sales to the point that to continue supporting segregation would be unprofitable.”

Hear more from 5 students who were involved and the philosophy of non violence that helped them change the face of Atlanta.

Watch the video here »