African American

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, […]

August 29, 1945

Wyomia Tyus

Wyomia Tyus was born to run. The Griffin native became the first athlete to win gold medals in the 100-yard dash in consecutive Olympics. As a 15–year–old African–American competing in the state track championships, she caught the eye of coach Ed Temple of the legendary Tennessee State University Tigerbelles women’s track team. Two years later, […]

August 15, 1864

First Black Soldiers in Combat in Georgia

It was the first time that African-American soldiers fought in the Civil War in Georgia. On this day in 1864, the 14th United States Colored Troops, mostly former slaves, fought off a Confederate cavalry attack near Dalton. Later, the 44th U.S. Colored troops were protecting the railroad through Dalton. Confederate General John Bell Hood attacked, […]

August 22, 1864

Slave Insurrection in Quitman

Georgians, like all Americans, were deeply divided by the Civil War. On August 22, 1864, four men were executed in Brooks County for conspiring to plot a slave insurrection. The conspirators were a local white man, John Vickery, and three slaves: Nelson, George and Sam. They planned to seize weapons, secure the county seat, Quitman, […]

August 23, 1961

Desegregation in Atlanta

When four African Americans came to Atlanta’s Bitsy Grant Tennis Center on this day in 1961, they found a sign waiting for them: closed for repairs. White Atlantans fiercely resisted desegregating the city’s parks, pools, and golf courses. City buses had always been contested terrain but Atlanta’s recreational facilities had by long custom been “whites […]

August 8, 1899

William Yates Atkinson

Not many governors had to prove their courage by facing down a lynch mob. William Yates Atkinson did. The two-term governor was one of Georgia’s most progressive voices in an era known more for racial demagogues. Born in 1854 in Oakland, Ga., Atkinson practiced law in Newnan in 1893, he became one of Georgia’s youngest […]

August 9, 1967

Deion Sanders

One of the most gifted and versatile athletes in Georgia sports history was born on this day in Fort Myers, Fla. Former Atlanta Brave and Atlanta Falcon Deion Sanders earned the nicknames “Neon Deion” and “Primetime.” His athletic talent was matched only by his flair for self-promotion and showmanship. Sanders was drafted out of Florida […]

July 30, 1961

Laurence Fishburne

He is the first African-American to play Othello in a major movie, following in the footsteps of Lawrence Olivier and Orson Welles. Laurence Fishburne was born in Augusta in 1961. His mother moved the family to Brooklyn, where Fishburne grew up. He’s been acting almost all his life, beginning with the soap opera One Life […]

July 8, 1941

Hamilton Holmes

He was valedictorian of his high school class but the University of Georgia wouldn’t let him in. Hamilton Holmes was born in 1941 in Atlanta, the grandson of a doctor. After Holmes’ 1959 graduation from Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School, Jesse Hill of the NAACP recruited him and fellow Turner grad Charlayne Hunter to […]

June 17, 1992

Grace Towns Hamilton

She was the first African-American woman elected to the Georgia Legislature. Grace Towns Hamilton was born in Atlanta in 1907. She graduated from Atlanta University in 1927 before earning a masters degree in psychology from Ohio State. Hamilton taught college for the next decade before she was appointed executive director of the Atlanta Urban League […]