Savannah, Ga., April 8, 2015 – The Georgia Historical Society announced today that they will dedicate an historical marker commemorating Sumter County in the Civil Rights Movement as part of the Georgia Civil Rights Trail, a statewide public education initiative commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia. The marker focuses on the 1961 incarceration of Dr. Martin Luther King in the Sumter County Jail and the Sumter County Movement that repeatedly challenged segregation until 1965.
“The Georgia Civil Rights Trail recognizes the central role that Georgia played and the leadership that Georgians provided in the movement to end Jim Crow in America,” said Dr. W. Todd Groce, President and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society. “This marker joins over 65 other GHS markers across the state in recognizing the struggle for African-American freedom and equality since the Civil War.”
Invited speakers for the dedication include The Honorable The Honorable Sanford Bishop, The Honorable Mike Cheokas, The Honorable Greg Kirk and Ms. Saralyn Stafford from the Georgia Department of Community affairs. Ms. Elyse Butler will represent the Georgia Historical Society to dedicate the marker along with members of the Sumter County Commissioners.
The marker is erected by the Georgia Historical Society and the Sumter County Board of Commissioners. The marker dedication will be at 10:30 a.m. on April 11th at 500 West Lamar Street in Americus.
The Georgia Civil Rights Trail initiative focuses broadly on the economic, social, political, and cultural history of the Civil Rights Movement by guiding audiences to the sites where history happened, inviting them to stand on the ground where struggles and events took place, and providing a foundation upon which to build and cultivate a deeper understanding of the past and its relevance to the present.
The dedication is open to the media and to the public. The marker reads:
Sumter County in the Civil Rights Movement
Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for protesting racial segregation in Albany on December 16, 1961, and held in the Sumter County Jail. King’s arrest dovetailed with community and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) efforts to establish the Sumter County Movement. Largely comprised of preteen and teenage students, the movement repeatedly challenged segregation from 1963 to1965. In 1963, 33 adolescent girls were incarcerated in a Civil War-era stockade after their arrest for protesting. The “Stolen Girls” gained national attention after a SNCC photographer revealed the stockade’s unsanitary conditions. Americus garnered further attention when four activists were arrested for insurrection under Georgia’s 1871 seditious conspiracy law, a capital crime. A federal court ruled the law unconstitutional, establishing that peaceful protests could not be punishable by death. The Movement’s success helped end segregation in southwest Georgia.
ABOUT GEORGIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Georgia Historical Society (GHS) is the premier independent statewide institution responsible for collecting, examining, and teaching Georgia history. GHS houses the oldest and most distinguished collection of materials related exclusively to Georgia history in the nation.
To learn more visit georgiahistory.com
ABOUT THE GEORGIA HISTORICAL MARKER PROGRAM
The Georgia Historical Society has administered Georgia’s historical marker program since 1998, erecting over 200 historical markers across Georgia on a wide variety of subjects. Now, online mapping tools allow you to design statewide driving routes based on historical markers, while mobile apps give information about markers nearby. Visit georgiahistory.com for more ways to use Georgia’s historical markers and experience history where it happened.