twentieth century

February 21, 1940

John Lewis

He courageously put his life on the line many times during the civil rights movement and has become one of the most respected members of Congress. John Lewis was born to sharecroppers in Alabama, in 1940. He encountered the ugliness and brutality of racism while participating in sit-ins as a student at Fisk University in […]

February 19, 1917

Carson McCullers

She helped create the literary genre known as “Southern Gothic.” But more than anything else, Carson McCullers wrote with penetrating insight about loneliness and suffering. Born as Lula Carson Smith in Columbus in 1917, she went to New York for college and married Reeves McCullers, the beginning of a complex and destructive relationship. In 1940, […]

February 17, 1936

Jim Brown

He was one of the greatest – if not the greatest – running backs to ever play the game of football. Jim Brown was born on St. Simons in 1936. At Syracuse University, Brown excelled in five sports. The NFL’s Cleveland Browns drafted him in 1957 and he led the league in rushing in 8 […]

February 16, 1985

Phil Niekro

Knucksie won more games after age 40 than any pitcher in Major League history. Phil Niekro, one of the most popular Atlanta Braves of all time, was born in Ohio in 1939. He made his big league debut with the Milwaukee Braves in 1964 before they moved to Atlanta in ‘66. He earned that nickname […]

February 13, 1956

Georgia Flag Change

It was not a flag that all Georgians could rally around. On this date in 1956, Governor Marvin Griffin signed legislation to change the Georgia flag to one that included the Confederate battle emblem on two-thirds of the banner. Democratic Party leader John Sammons Bell began the campaign a year earlier after two controversial Supreme […]

February 11, 1936

Burt Reynolds

It started with Deliverance in 1972. From there, Burt Reynolds “delivered” a lot of film business to the state of Georgia. As he was becoming Hollywood’s biggest box office draw for five years running, Georgia became number three in the nation for film production behind only New York and California. Burton Leon Reynolds, Jr. was […]

February 9, 1944

Alice Walker

She was born in Eatonton in 1944 and at age 8 she was blinded in one eye by a BB gun fired by her brother, a traumatic event that crippled her self-confidence. She was eventually homecoming queen and valedictorian at Butler-Baker High School. But it was Alice Walker’s searing literary portraits of African-American life and […]

February 6, 1956

Massive Resistance

The white South’s opposition to court-ordered desegregation in the 1950s was known as “Massive Resistance,” and while Georgia’s reaction wasn’t as violent as other states, it was no less defiant. On this day in 1956, Governor Marvin Griffin addressed a joint session of the General Assembly and urged lawmakers to invoke the doctrine of interposition […]

February 5, 1945

Poll Tax Abolished

The poll tax, a bulwark of the Jim Crow era, was one of many roadblocks thrown up to keep African-Americans from exercising their right to vote. Although the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1870, guaranteed former male slaves the right to vote, the poll tax, which all voters had to pay was […]

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 […]