• Influential Civil Rights Activists Who Shaped Atlanta

    None - Here are the brief bios of several of the most influential Civil Rights activists who have and continue to shape Atlanta. Thank you to Atlanta.net for help compiling this list.

    Jefferson Franklin Long (1836-1901) His heart pounding, Jefferson Franklin Long recites the Congressional Oath of Office on January 9, 1871. As Georgia's first African-American congressman, he will hold his office in the House of Representatives for 23 years. During his time as a slave, Long taught himself to read and write by setting copy for a Macon newspaper. For more about Jefferson Franklin Long CLICK HERE.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African American Civil Rights movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of Civil Rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. King is often presented as a heroic leader in the history of modern American liberalism. For more about Martin Luther King Jr., CLICK HERE.

    Andrew Jackson Young, Jr. (1932-present) On November 7, 1972 Andrew Jackson Young, Jr. became one of the first black Southerners elected to Congress in the 20th century. Elected to represent the 5th District of Atlanta in the House of Representatives, the pastor and close friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. championed causes for the poor and working-class Americans. A lifelong civil rights activist, Young worked closely with Georgia president Jimmy Carter to transform U.S. foreign policy, focusing on human rights and economic development in third-world countries. For more information about Andrew Young, CLICK HERE.

    Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr. (1938-2003) In 1973, at age 35, Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr. was inaugurated as the first black mayor of a Southern metropolis. The prodigious attorney and political activist also served as the city's first African-American Vice Mayor in 1969. Using affirmative action, Jackson made strides in all facets of city business. Transforming the police department, he helped promote African-American officers into higher ranks. After acquiring an abandoned downtown building, Jackson ended a two-week standoff with the city's indigent citizens by transforming it into 3,500 housing units for the poor. He also worked to repair the rift between the city's political officials and the white business community. The largest achievement of his tenure came with the construction of the massive new airport terminal using a large minority work force. For more information about Maynard Jackson, please CLICK HERE.

    John Lewis (1940-present) Elected president of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1963, John Lewis became the face of the idealistic generation of students. He held this position for three years, during which time he suffered enormous amounts of physical brutality as punishment for his civil rights endeavors. During his presidency, he helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Summer as well as the Bloody Sunday March on Montgomery from Selma, Alabama. Lewis was close with Martin Luther King, Jr. and spoke at the March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom, during which MLK gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Later, John Lewis moved into the political arena and has represented Atlanta and the 5th Congressional District of Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1987. For more information on John Lewis, please CLICK HERE.

    Joseph E. Lowery (1924-present) Beginning an unprecedented 30-year tenure, the Methodist minister Joseph E. Lowery is named president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1977. Lowery's political activism extends far beyond the Civil Rights Movement. Not only was he a key figure in desegregating the nation, he also campaigned for AIDS education, affirmative action, workers' rights and black voter registration. Proceeding his SCLC presidency, Lowery championed the building of 240 low-income housing units and served as a MARTA board member for over 20 years. Responsible for gathering fundamental funds for the 1996 Olympics, Lowery's presence is felt throughout the city. He also co-chaired Nelson Mandela's 1990 visit to Atlanta, and was instrumental in changing the state flag design. For more information about Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, please CLICK HERE.

    Coretta Scott King (1927-2006) Honoring her lifetime of civil rights activism, Coretta Scott King becomes the first woman and first African-American to have a gravesite on the Georgia State Capitol rotunda. The wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. Although she stayed behind the scenes for most of her husband's activist career, after his death she took up King's legendary efforts for nonviolent protest, becoming an icon of strength. It is through her efforts that so much of MLK's efforts survive today. She is responsible for the collecting and preservation of the reverend's papers, as well as the establishment of The King Center for Nonviolent Social Change. She is buried beside her husband in an enlarged tomb in the center of the reflecting pool at the King Center. For more information about Coretta Scott King, please CLICK HERE.

    Hamilton Holmes (1941-1995) In January of 1961, Hamilton Holmes became the first African-American man to enroll at the University of Georgia (UGA). A distinguished student and athlete, Holmes graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1963. Later that year he became the first black man to attend the Emory University School of Medicine. After serving as an army major in Germany during WWII, Hamilton Holmes returned to Atlanta to become Chief of Orthopedics at the Veterans Administration hospital. After opening a private practice, he was named Medical Director of Grady Memorial Hospital and assistant dean of Emory University. In 1983 Holmes became the first black man to be inducted to UGA's Board of Trustees. In 1992, three years before his death, he helped create a scholarship for African-American students wishing to attend the University of Georgia. For more information about Hamilton Holmes, please CLICK HERE.

    For more of the most influential Civil Rights activists who have shaped Atlanta, please go to Atlanta.net.

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