Savannah, Ga., April 8, 2015 – The Georgia Historical Society announced today that they will dedicate an historical marker commemorating Primus King and 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. In 1944, King challenged the “whites only” primary in Georgia when he attempted to vote in the Democratic Party’s primary election – a move that marked the beginning of the modern civil rights movement in Georgia.
“Primus King’s legal challenge sparked a movement in Georgia that would ripple for generations to come. By ending the whites only primary, King opened the door for disenfranchised African-Americans to have a voice in the public square by way of the ballot box. His contribution to the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia cannot be underestimated and this new historical marker will help bring that into focus,” said Dr. W. Todd Groce, President and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society.
Speakers for the dedication include The Honorable Teresa Tomlinson, Mayor of Columbus; Ms. Cindy Eidson, Assistant Tourism Product Development Director for the Georgia Department of Economic Development; Isaiah Hugley, Columbus City Manager; Ms. Elizabeth Barker, Executive Director of the Historic Columbus Foundation; Ms. Elyse Butler for the Georgia Historical Society; and Dr. Gary Sprayberry, Chair of the Department of History at Columbus State University.
The marker is erected by the Georgia Historical Society, the City of Columbus, Historic Columbus, and the Georgia Department of Economic Development. The marker dedication will take place Friday, April 10, at 11:00 a.m. at the Government Center, 100 10th Street, Columbus.
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:
Primus King and the Civil Rights Movement
The modern Civil Rights Movement in Georgia began on July 4, 1944, when Primus E. King, an African-American barber and minister, attempted to vote at the Muscogee County Courthouse in the Democratic Party’s primary election, which barred blacks from participating. King, a registered voter, was roughly turned away by a law enforcement officer. With the encouragement and financial backing of local activist Dr. Thomas Brewer, King filed suit in Federal court in Macon, arguing that excluding black voters was unconstitutional. The court ruled in King’s favor, as did the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ending Georgia’s “whites only” primary. King’s challenge eliminated the legal barriers to black voting in Georgia’s state and local elections and set in motion a statewide black voter registration campaign that helped end disfranchisement and the system of Jim Crow discrimination.
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.