Civil Rights

February 4, 2005

Ossie Davis

As an actor, and as an activist, Ossie Davis made his mark. Born Rayford Chatman Davis in 1917 in Cogdell, Georgia, in Clinch County, he got his nickname from the way his mother pronounced his initials. Davis served in Africa in World War II, and made his Broadway debut in 1946 in the play Jeb, […]

January 13, 1982

Hank Aaron

He was 14 when he saw Jackie Robinson play, and knew he wanted to play major league baseball. There were few better. Henry Louis Aaron was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1934. During a 23-year career with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers, Aaron won the National League’s Most Valuable Player and […]

June 13, 1977

James Earl Ray

The man who assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a small-time crook with big ambitions. James Earl Ray was born in Alton, Illinois, in 1928. After spending some time in the Army, he robbed gas stations and grocery stores. First convicted in 1949, Ray was serving a 20-year prison sentence in Missouri when he […]

October 16, 1973

Maynard Jackson Elected

There were many firsts in his family. Born in Dallas, Texas in 1938,Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr.  moved to Atlanta when he was 8.  His Georgia roots ran deep. His grandfather, John Wesley Dobbs, founded the Georgia Voters League. His mother was the first African-American with an Atlanta public library card. His aunt Mattiwilda was the […]

November 7, 1972

Andrew Young

If there was a Mt. Rushmore for civil rights icons, Andrew Young would be on it. But his achievements go well beyond civil rights: Young has served as congressman, United Nations ambassador and mayor of Atlanta. Andrew Jackson Young Jr. was born in New Orleans in 1932. He became involved in the civil rights movement […]

February 3, 1969

Ralph McGill

His was a voice of moderation during one of the South’s most racially divisive periods. Ralph McGill was born in Tennessee in 1898. His sports columns in the Nashville Banner caught the eye of Atlanta Constitution editor Clark Howell, who hired McGill in 1929. By 1941, McGill was the paper’s editor, and over the next […]

April 4, 1968

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Now he belongs to the ages.” That was said of Abraham Lincoln. It applies no less to Martin Luther King Jr. King was planning a “Poor People’s March” on Washington in 1968 when he went to Memphis to help striking black sanitation workers. The civil rights leader had broadened his approach, speaking out against poverty, […]

July 2, 1964

Civil Rights Act of 1964

It was one of the most far-reaching Congressional acts in American history. In 1954, the Supreme Court weighed in in a big way against legalized bigotry. Its landmark decision in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education outlawed segregated schools. But the invigorated civil rights movement ran head-on into Massive Resistance, a resurgent KKK, and white […]

October 14, 1964

MLK Wins the Nobel Prize

He was the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in Atlanta in 1929 as Michael Luther King. His father later changed their names. He grew up on Auburn Avenue near Ebenezer Baptist Church, where his grandfather and father were pastors. King graduated from Morehouse College, became […]

August 28, 1963

Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech

It was 17 minutes that changed history. On August 28, 1963, native Georgian Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington. The speech is widely regarded as one of the most eloquent and memorable in American history. The March on Washington, coordinated by A. Phillip Randolph, […]