Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

We’ll Never Turn Back · The Freedom Singers

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

There were many American cities in which the black residents responded to their segregation, discrimination, and mistreatment in an organized way. The March to Montgomery is perhaps the most famous, but the demonstrations that took place in Albany, Georgia nearly four years earlier, were equally historic.

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

Charles Sherrod and Cordell Reagon

In October 1961: Students Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) members Charles Sherrod and Cordell Reagon traveled to Albany, to help organize the local black community. Although earlier protests had occurred, black residents were frustrated with the city commission’s failure to address their grievances.

Sherrod and Reagon organized workshops around nonviolent tactics for Albany’s African American residents in anticipation of a showdown with the local police.

November 1, 1961: the day the Interstate Commerce Commission’s new prohibition against segregated bus terminals was to go into effect. The Albany, Georgia bus terminal was located in the black section of town and on November 1st — with a neighborhood crowd watching — nine Black students attempted to use the terminal’s “white-only” facilities. As planned, they left  when ordered out by the police and then filed immediate complaints with the ICC under the new ruling.

November 17, 1961: A coalition of SNCC, the NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Conference members organized a series of civil rights actions.

Police Chief Laurie Pritchett adroitly avoided confrontations that would bring unfavorable national publicity to him and the city.

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

Bertha Gober

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

November 22, 1961: when Albany (GA) State College students went to the bus terminal to return home for the Thanksgiving holiday, an Albany State dean — whose job depended on the all-white Georgia Board of Regents — was stationed there to direct them to the “Colored” waiting room.

Five young people — 3 from the NAACP Youth Council and 2 from Albany State — defied the dean and the orders of Police Chief Pritchett to leave the white waiting room. They were arrested. Bertha Gober, one of the Albany State students, chose to remain in jail over the holidays to dramatize their demand for justice.

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

Bernice Johnson

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement
b Zellner, Bernice Reagon, Cordell Reagon, Dottie Miller (Zellner), and Avon Rollins singing in Danville, Virginia, June 1963

After the Thanksgiving holiday, more than 100 Albany State College students marched from campus to the courthouse where they picketed to protest the trial of those arrested at the bus depot. A mass meeting — the first in Albany history — packed Mt. Zion Baptist Church to protest the arrests, segregation, and a lifetime of subservience. At the end of the meeting they rise  to sing, “We Shall Overcome.” Student song-leader Bernice Johnson (Reagan) described the effect, “When I opened my mouth and began to sing, there was a force and power within myself I had never heard before. Somehow this music … released a kind of power and required a level of concentrated energy I did not know I had.”

Albany State students Bertha Gober and Blanton Hall were expelled for disobeying the dean’s orders to use the “Colored” waiting room. Students marched to the college President’s office to protest the expulsions and 40 more were expelled for disagreeing with the administration. Gober will later compose civil rights song, “We’ll Never Turn Back.” 

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

Freedom Riders

December 10, 1961: nine Freedom Riders from Atlanta arrived at the Albany Trailways bus terminal and were met by a crowd of approximately three hundred black onlookers and a squad of Albany policemen. Chief Pritchett arrested the riders without incident, telling the press that white Albany would “not stand for these troublemakers coming into our city for the sole purpose of disturbing the peace and quiet in the city of Albany.”

December 11, 1961:  over four hundred people marched to city hall in downtown Albany, protesting the arrest of the Freedom Riders. The city gave the marchers permission to circle the block twice, and when the marchers refused to stop after the allotted distance, Chief Pritchett ordered the protestors arrested. Herding the protestors into the alley between police headquarters, Pritchett arrested 267 protestors. Pritchett informed the press that “We can’t  tolerate the NAACP or the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee or any other ‘nigger’ organization to take over this town with mass demonstrations.

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

Martin Luther King, Jr arrives

December 15, 1961: going against some of his Southern Christian Leadership Conference advisers, King accepted an invitation to Albany, Georgia and speaks at a rally in support of activists that had be arrested the previous day.

December 16, 1961: New York Times: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 264 other Negroes and one white youth were arrested today as they marched on City Hall for a prayer demonstration. All were jailed. There was no violence, despite the tension aroused by week-long racial controversy and the breakdown of negotiations between white and Negro leaders aimed at restoring this city of 56,000 persons to normal.

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

December 18, 1961: an agreement was reached that paved the way for the release of the King and about 300 other Negroes from prison.

January 5, 1962: Groups protested to state and college officials regarding the dismissal of students from Albany State College for participating in anti-segregation demonstrations.

March 26, 1962: the original Freedom Riders arrested in December went on trial. Charles Sherrod was beaten to the floor for sitting in the “white” section at the front of the courtroom and white SNCC activists Bob Zellner, Per Laurson, Sandra & Tom Hayden were violently dragged from the courtroom when they sit in the “Colored” section at the rear. (NYT article)

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

King & Abernathy jailed

July 10, 1962: Martin Luther King Jr and Ralph Abernathy, convicted of having violated a street and sidewalk assembly ordinance without a permit on December 16, 1961, went to jail to emphasize their nonviolent defiance of racial barriers. They had been given the choice of a $178 fine each or 45 days in jail. They choose jail.

July 12, 1962: King’s and Abernathy’s fines were anonymously paid and the two men were reluctantly freed. Years later it was revealed that Albany Mayor Asa Kelley paid the fines as a ploy to divide the movement and diffuse media attention on King’s imprisonment.

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

Demonstrations deny equal protection

July 20, 1962: Robert Elliott, a Federal judge had issued an injunction against mass marches using the legal reasoning that demonstrations require the presence of policemen; policemen who are present during demonstrations could not handle other complaints of other citizens in the community; therefore, the demonstrations were denying other citizens — white citizens — equal protection of the law.

Defying that injunction, 160 protesters were arrested.

July 22, 1962: Martin Luther King Jr. said that Federal District Judge J.Robert Elliott was engaged to an extent in a “conspiracy” to maintain segregation.

July 24, 1962: Chief Judge Elbert P Tuttle of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned the ban on demonstrations, stating, “The trial court had no jurisdiction to enter this order at all.” Later that day, the Albany police dispersed a crowd of 2,000 protestors.

July 25, 1962: Martin Luther King Jr. canceled plans to lead a mass demonstration and declared a day of penance for the previous night’s outbreak of violence.

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

Dr W.G. Anderson

July 26, 1962: WG Anderson, president of the Albany Movement, warned that the group would give a “lesson” to white officials who had spurned repeated requests for negotiations over demands for desegregation of public facilities.

July 27, 1962: police arrest ten demonstrators in front of Albany’s City Hall. After that arrest, a group of 17 demonstrators appeared. Police arrested them as well.

July 28, 1962: Martin Luther King Jr and, twenty-seven were arrested and jailed during two prayer protests in front of Albany City Hall.

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

President Kennedy comments

August 1, 1962: JFK responded to a reporter’s question about the protests in Albany, Georgia. Kennedy stated that he is staying updated on the situation through reports from Attorney General Robert Kennedy. The President argued that the Albany City Commission’s refusal to negotiate with African American citizens is “wholly inexplicable.” [video]

August 10 1962: King agreed to leave Albany, ending his involvement in the Albany Movement. Almost all of Albany’s public facilities remained segregated after King’s departure.

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement


August 11, 1962: Albany shut down its three public parks and two public libraries after small groups sought to desegregate them.

August 28, 1962: Albany police arrested and jailed seventy religious leaders from the North and Midwest during an anti-segregation protest at the City Hall.

August 31, 1962: Judge J Robert Elliot denied lawyers a preliminary injunction to stop Albany from practicing segregation. Martin Luther King asked President Kennedy to intervene in the racial troubles in Albany.

September 12, 1962: Martin Luther King Jr. decried the pace of civil rights progress in the United States. He also said that “no President can be great, or even fit for office, if he attempts to accommodate injustice to maintain his political balance.

September 25, 1962: a pre-dawn fire at St. Matthew’s Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia destroyed the building. It was the fifth black church to burn over the past month.

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

FBI and status quo

November 18, 1962: Martin Luther King, Jr accused agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Albany, Ga., of siding with the segregationists. “One of the great problems we face with the FBI is the South is that the agents are white Southerners who have been influenced by the mores of the community. To maintain their status, they have to be friendly with the local police and people who are promoting segregation. Every time I saw an FBI man in Albany, they were with the local police force.” 

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement


March 7, 1963: the Albany City Commission voted 6 – 1 to repeal all segregation ordinances. The Commission also voted 4 – 3  to re-open the library after being closed for seven months, though the city removed the chairs to prevent blacks and whites sitting together.

No action was taken regarding the city’s tennis courts, swimming pools, park recreation areas and teen centers which had been closed at the same time.

March 9, 1963: four black girls took seats at a white lunch counter at Albany Lee Drugs. There were asked to leave and the police were called. The girls were arrested a block away and charged with violating an antitresspassing ordinance.

March 12, 1963: five Black high school-age girls were turned away from two white theaters by the assistant manager for the chain. “We don’t want your business,” the manager told them.

March 13, 1963: Blacks resumed a 16 month fight against segregation in Albany, GA realizing that the March 7 announcement was simply a legal ploy.

A NYT article quoted Police Chief Pritchett, “I don’t know of anything for them to be overjoyed about. You look around and see if anything’s integrated and if it is, call me, will you?”

June 21, 1963: Albany, Georgia police temporarily closed all black businesses and banned blacks from sidewalks after an attempted walk by blacks toward the white shopping district for a sit-in at a lunch counter.

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement


April 6, 1964: the first step toward integration in Albany, GA came quiet­ly when five black children registered to attend classes the following fall with whites.

Three of the children registered at one elementary school and two at another. All were accompanied by their parents.

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

Medals of Freedom

June 4, 2011: President Barak Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Charles Sherrod and his wife Shirley at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Southwest Georgia Project in Albany.

Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement

November Peace Love Art Activism

November Peace Love Art Activism

As always, some events in history cannot be pinned down to a specific date either because there’s a lack of information or no one realized that the date might be important someday. In any case, here are some peace-, love-, art- and activism-related November events.


Angelina Grimké

November Peace Love Art Activism

In November 1836: Angelina Grimké held her first “parlor talk” for women under the auspices of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Over the next year, she and her sister Sarah gave more than 70 lectures before an estimated 40,000 people. When criticized for speaking to audiences filled with men as well as women, Grimké launched a defense of the right of women to speak in public and participate as equals in public affairs. (see May 16, 1838)

Women’s Health

November #PeaceLoveArtActivism

In November 1956: a Science magazine article informed readers that women had tested a synthetic hormone as an oral contraceptive and it had been effective. In the summer of  1957 the FDA approved the use of Enovid for the treatment of severe menstrual disorders and required the drug label to carry a warning that Enovid would prevent ovulation. [NCBI article] (see December 2, 1959)

November Peace Love Art Activism

Black History

Dred & Harriet Scott

In November 1837:  the Army sent Dr. Emerson to Fort Jesup in Louisiana. The Scotts remained in Wisconsin Territory. (BH, see Nov 7; Scotts for expanded chronology)

Scottsboro Travesty

In November 1938,: Alabama Governor Graves denied all pardon applications. (full story)

Black Panthers

November Peace Love Art Activism

In November 1968: deeply influenced by the Black Panther leaders Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver, John Sinclair and Lawrence “Pun” Plamondon founded the White Panther Party.

The ten-point program of the White Panther Party demanded economic and cultural freedom. “Everything free for everybody!” and a total “assault” on the culture by any means necessary were the essence of the White Panther program. [text of statement] (Black History, see Nov 5; Sinclair, see August 6, 1969)

George Whitmore, Jr

In November 1986: Richard Robles, who had himself protested his innocence over the original double-murders, admitted his guilt to a parole board hearing. He had broken into the flat in order to obtain money for drugs and had assumed at first it was empty. (see Whitmore for expanded story)

November Peace Love Art Activism


Sidewalk Pulpit

In late November 1941:  Walter Chaplinsky, a Jehovah’s Witness, was using a sidewalk as a pulpit in downtown Rochester, New Hampshire. Chaplinsky was passing out pamphlets and preached that organized religion was a “racket.” The rhetoric eventually sparked the gathering of a throng, which in turn, caused a scene. A police officer removed Chaplinsky. Along the way, he met the town marshal, who had earlier warned Chaplinsky to keep it down and avoid causing a commotion. Chaplinsky attacked him verbally. He was arrested. The complaint against Chaplinsky charged that he had shouted: “You are a God-damned racketeer” and “a damned Fascist”. Chaplinsky admitted that he said the words charged in the complaint, with the exception of the name of the deity. (see March 9, 1942)

Hustler magazine

In November 1983: Hustler magazine ran a piece parodying Rev Jerry Falwells first sexual experience as a drunken, incestuous, childhood encounter with his mother in an outhouse.

Falwell was an important religious conservative and founder of the Moral Majority political advocacy group sued Hustler and its publisher, Larry Flynt, for libel.

Falwell would win the case, but Flynt appealed, leading to the Supreme Court’s hearing the case because of its constitutional implications. (next FS, see August 27, 1985; Flynt, see February 24, 1988)

November Peace Love Art Activism


In November 1946: a customs dispute between the French and Viet Minh in the port of Haiphong led to a day-long exchange of gunfire. Two hundred forty Vietnamese and seven Frenchmen were killed. The French followed by bombing Haiphong killing six thousand civilians. (see Dec 19)

November Peace Love Art Activism

see November Music et al for more

Future Woodstock Performers/Joan Baez

November Peace Love Art Activism

In November 1960:  Joan Baez (age 19) released her first album, Joan Baez.

Future Woodstock Performers/Ravi Shankar

November Peace Love Art Activism

In 1962 Ravi Shankar released his 4th album, Improvisations. He released his first  at age 17 in 1937.

Future Woodstock Performers/Melanie

November Peace Love Art Activism

In November 1968 Melanie (age 21) released her first album, Born to Be.

Jimi Hendrix

In November 1961, Hendrix met fellow serviceman Billy Cox. He was walking past the service club and heard Hendrix playing guitar inside. Cox, intrigued by the proficient playing, which he described as a combination of “John Lee Hooker and Beethoven”, immediately checked-out a bass guitar and the two began to jam. Soon after, they began performing at the base clubs on the weekends with other musicians in a loosely organized band called the Casuals. (see Hendrix Military for expanded story)


In November 1967, authorities released Ken Kesey and he moved to Oregon. (LSD see February 4, 1968; KK, see November 10, 2001)

Forever Changes

In November 1967: Love released its classic album, Forever Changes.

Van Morrison

In November 1968, Van Morrison released his classic album, Astral Weeks 


In November, 1969:  Steppenwolf released the album Monster contained epic song by same name.

November Peace Love Art Activism


In November 1985, San Francisco gay rights activist Cleve Jones conceived the idea of an AIDS Quilt. Since the 1978 assassinations of gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, Jones had helped organize the annual candlelight march honoring the men. While planning the 1985 march, he learned that AIDS had killed over 1,000 San Franciscans . He asked each of his fellow marchers to write on placards the names of friends and loved ones who had died of AIDS. At the end of the march, Jones and others stood on ladders taping these placards to the walls of the San Francisco Federal Building. The wall of names looked like a patchwork quilt. [ article] (see Nov 25)

November Peace Love Art Activism


In November 1987, Hugo Bedau and Michael Radelet published a landmark study in the Stanford Law Review documenting 350 cases involving defendants convicted of capital crimes in the United States between 1900 and 1985 and who were later found to be innocent.

In the decade following the publication of that study, scores of additional death row inmates were discovered to have been falsely convicted, largely through the emergence of DNA evidence. (see June 29, 1988)

November Peace Love Art Activism

Sexual Abuse of Children

Reverend James Porter

During 1992 – 1993, the Reverend James Porter [timeline] of Fall River diocese, Massachusetts accused of abusing children in five US states in the 1960s and 1970s. He later pleaded guilty to 41 counts of abuse.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

In November 1992, SNAP members traveled to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington D.C. At first, bishops refused to see them. Finally, three agreed to  listen to their stories. The bishops said they would take what they learned  “under  consideration.”

Rudolph Kos

In 1993, authorities brought the first legal proceedings against the Dallas diocese over sex abuse by the priest Rudolph Kos. [timeline]

SNAP press conference

In November 1993, SNAP leaders from several cities traveled to Chicago to hold the organizations first ever national press conference. (see September 26, 1996)

November Peace Love Art Activism


In November 1995, according to audiotapes secretly recorded later by a Linda Tripp, Monica Lewinsky and President Bill Clinton began a sexual relationship. (see Clinton for expanded impeachment story)

November Peace Love Art Activism


In November 2011, according to a study, States that had legalized medical marijuana saw fewer fatal car accidents in part because people might be substituting marijuana smoking for drinking alcohol.

Comparing traffic deaths over time in states with and without medical marijuana law changes, the researchers found that fatal car wrecks dropped by 9% in states that legalized medical use — which was largely attributable to a decline in drunk driving.

The authors also found that in states that legalized medical use, there was no increase in marijuana smoking by teenagers — a finding seen in other studies as well. But, in many cases, the laws were linked with an increase in marijuana smoking among adults in their 20s; this rise was accompanied by a reduction in alcohol use by college age youth, suggesting that they were smoking weed instead…” [Time article]  (see Nov 30)

November Peace Love Art Activism

Fair Housing

In November 2019: the National Fair Housing Alliance‘s 2019 Fair Housing Trends Report showed the different forms of harassment, hate crimes, and housing discrimination—illegally restricting access to housing due to membership in a protected legal class, such a being a person of color or having a disability—that took place in the U.S.

The report showed the nation moving backwards, not forwards, in the fight to guarantee equal access. In 2018, the nation saw an 8 percent year-to-year increase in fair housing cases, the largest since the group began keeping records in 1995, as well as a 14.7 percent increase in hate crime offenses linked to housing.

In a summation, the NFHA said renters had faced “a resurgence of horrific hate activity,” and that “it can sometimes seem like we are living in a nightmare.” [ article] (next FH, see July 23, 2020)

November Peace Love Art Activism