Wednesday, August 30, 1961: Integration of Atlanta schools

Nine black students begin classes at four high schools (Grady, Murphy, Brown and Northside) scattered across Atlanta, Georgia. The transition is without incident, unlike integration in New Orleans (November 1960; go here for entry) or the University of Georgia (January 1961; go here). But in terms of sheer numbers, integration in Atlanta would progress very slowly for the next few years. As the 1961 school year began, other Southern cities were also experiencing trouble-free integration -- Dallas and Galveston, Texas; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Little Rock, Arkansas.

Note about the photo: Murphy High School has a Civil War marker outside the building's front entrance. It reads: AN UNEXPECTED CLASH / July 22, 1864. The attack by Walker's & Bate's divs. (Hardee's A.C.) [Confederate symbol] struck the two brigades, Mersy's & Rice's, of Sweeny's 16th A.C. div. [Union symbol] enroute to support the 17th in E. Atlanta. Walker's troops came up Sugar Cr. valley from the S.; Bate's from the high ground eastward. Sweeny's men hastily formed defensively -- Rice facing E., Mercy S., the apex of the lines atop the hill where Laird's 14th Ohio Battery was posted and where Murphy High School stands. Blodgett's Missouri Battery H was at Rice's center, facing E. Though greatly outnumbered, Sweeny managed to hold the position, thereby foiling Hardee's thrust at the Federal rear. (Photo from Atlanta History Center.)

* Short summary from Atlanta magazine: @
* "Atlanta Public Schools Desegregate" (segment from WABE-FM, Atlanta): @
* Audio of President Kennedy's August 30 press conference: @
* "Prepared for Peace" (Time magazine, August 25): @
* "Southern Milestones" (Time magazine, September 8): @
* "With the Police on an Integration Job" (Life magazine, September 15): @
* Atlanta Public Schools timeline (through 1999): @
* More about the Sibley Commission (from New Georgia Encyclopedia) : @
* "Atlanta in the Civil Rights Movement, 1960-65" (from Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education): @
* Excerpt from "Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement": @

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