Reminders of unsung heroes of Atlanta can be found all around the city

ATLANTA — Atlanta streets are filled with reminders of the many unsung heroes of the civil rights movement.

Dr. Candy Tate sees things that many will miss on a stroll down an Atlanta street.

“As you stroll the neighborhoods, if you only knew. As they say, ‘If the streets could talk’ and tell you,” Tate said.

It may be just another statue to some, but she knows there is much more to what meets the eye.

“Visitors need to ask the question. They need to say, ‘Oh. This is a name. Who is it?,” Tate said.

The statues of Atlanta giants like Charles Lincoln Harper are present. He was the first principal of Booker T. Washington High School, almost 100 years ago. The school was the first public high school for African Americans in Georgia.

Lifelong Atlanta residents like Tillman Ward present a challenge to all.

“Next time you go out, pay attention,” Ward said.

Atlanta is a city rich in history. This history could almost be treated like a scavenger hunt, as history is littered everywhere around the city.


“Streets have a name. And names have meaning and purpose,” Ward said.

For example, William Borders Drive is named after the famed pastor of Wheat Street Baptist Church, who was pastor of this storied church for more than 50 years. Borders was a driving force in working to desegregate the Atlanta Police Department.

In the middle of downtown, There’s Xernona Clayton Way. The roadway honors the civil rights and broadcasting pioneer.

“Xernona Clayton is actually one of the few streets named for an African American woman. She was a dear friend of Mrs. Coretta Scott King,” Ward said.

Historians agree we all recognize the names of giants like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Congressman John Lewis and Hank Aaron, and have been to places that bear their names. It’s important that we do not forget the names of the other countless, unsung heroes that were present in the struggle.

“That is why we name and honor those who came before us — so they aren’t forgotten. So when you see a name, look it up and figure out why those people are important,” Tate said.