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The Timeline of the Civil Rights Movement in Macon Georgia

During the late 1960s and 1970s, blacks in Macon invented more direct strategies than flight in order to dismantle racist institutions.  Although some African American residents participated in angry confrontations with the police, the city abolished segregation without the violence or the national media attention.

Integration of Mercer University
While living in Nigeria, Sam Oni had converted to the Baptist faith.  In 1963, he became the first black student admitted to Mercer University, a Baptist school. Sam Oni has returned on several occasions as a guest of Mercer for the school's anniversary of its integration.
Bus Boycott
William P. “Daddy Bill” Randall, A prominent spokesperson and community leader for Macon’s black population, Randall was one of the city’s most influential civil rights activists. He actively served as a chief board member of Macon’s NAACP and as chairman of the Negro Citizens Negotiating Committee, an African American civil rights organization established in the city during the early 1960s.  Many of the mass meetings were held at New Pleasant Grove in the East Macon Area.  Thelma Dillard was a part of the bus boycott in Macon and even took the minutes at civil rights executive meetings at the calling of William P. Randall.
In early 1962, seven years after the Montgomery bus boycott led by the Reverend Dr. King and Jo Ann Robinson, Randall spearheaded a campaign to end segregation on city and county buses and to increase the employment of black American workers as bus drivers and mechanics. On February 7, in collaboration with several other African Americans--Walter Davis, the president of Macon’s NAACP; Ruby Williams, president of the City Federation of Women’s Clubs; and Rev. A. J. Shaw, president of Macon’s Evangelical Ministers Alliance--Randall mailed a letter demanding equal treatment to Linton D. Baggs, who headed the Bibb Transit Company which owned the city buses. Baggs and other city officials ignored their letter, prompting Randall to call for a bus boycott by the black community. Addressing the audience in this clip, he uses the religious rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement to urge them to keep fighting and refusing to ride the buses until equal rights have prevailed in Macon.
On March 2, 1962, U.S. District Court Judge William Bootle ruled that the segregated bus seating laws were unconstitutional, and ordered the Bibb Transit Company to comply with his judgment. Two days later the Macon bus boycott ended.

Integration in Bibb County Schools

The key figure in the desegregation of Bibb County Schools was Hester Bivins, a single mother of seven children, three of whom played a major role in the integration of Bibb County schools. In 1954, in the case of Brown vs. Board of Education, the courts ruled that all schools would be integrated, but in 1963. Bibb County schools were still segregated, when it was time for Shirley Bivins, her oldest child, to enter school, no one would let her. Hester, who had been heavily involved in the bus boycott and picketing stores, filed the lawsuit Shirley Bivins vs. Bibb County Board of Education on her daughter’s behalf.

The lawsuit went in favor of Shirley Bivins, but failed to include the teachers and faculty at the schools. Judge Bootle gave the Board of Education  the chance to integrate schools without having to go to court intervention, but the Board met and there was a unanimous decision that the schools would remain segregated. So the unanimous decision was overturned by Judge Bootle.

In 1963, Hester’s son Bert Bivins was the first African American person to be accepted into a school in the Bibb County Schools district.

Integration of Central High School
Several African American students, such as Virgil Adams, integrated into Central High School. Virgil Adams is now a partner in the law firm Adams and Jordan. In an interview April 20, 2011 he  attributes much of his success to his high school experience because he learned how to interact with people that were different from him, which prepared him for the real world.

Remembering the Honorable William A. Bootle   
During the late 1960 and early 1970’s, there was a lot of turmoil involving the U.S. Supreme Court’s notion to fully integrate schools by February 1970. Judge William A. Bootle ruled that all schools had to do in order to form a “unitary” school system was transfer teachers around the county. He was corrected by the Fifth Circuit Court ruling that said “no” to his teacher frenzy. In 1961, Bootle ordered the integration of the University of Georgia, and in 1963, he ruled in favor of 44 African American students who sued to be admitted to white schools in Bibb County.

Macon’s Citizen March in Selma Alabama
On Sunday, March 7th 1965 Hosea Williams and John Lewis led 600 people which included Margaret Dudley  a citizen of Macon Georgia,  began a march to Montgomery, Alabama, to take their quest for voting rights directly to Governor George C. Wallace.   At the Pettus bridge they were met by state troopers who used horses, tear gas, and billy clubs to break up the  march.   Margaret Dudley  participated in the march which was later called Bloody Sunday because most of the marchers were beaten.  National news coverage of these events secured widespread support and led to the approval of the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965. Margaret Dudley's name is engraved in stone at the Civil Rights Museum in Alabama .        

Remembering the NAACP during the Civil Rights Movement in Macon
In 1971 a meeting between Macon Mayor Ronnie Thompson, Police Chief J. F. Flynt, and representatives of the local branch of the NAACP. The leaders of the NAACP in attendance include the Reverend Julius C. Hope, the state president for the organization. Also in attendance are members of a biracial committee, which has been created in response to a list of demands the NAACP presented to the mayor. The purpose of the committee is to objectively review evidence from an incident that resulted in the death of a black citizen. The NAACP has called the meeting to ease racial tensions that have resulted from the death.
On  July 21, 1971, the Bibb Board of County Commissioners and a special committee of the NAACP meet to discuss affirmative action and the civil rights of Macon’s black citizens. The Reverend Julius C. Hope and J. L. Key, presidents of the Georgia chapter of the NAACP and the Macon NAACP, respectively, co-direct this special committee. One of six scheduled meetings with community leaders, the NAACP had continually requested equal opportunities for African Americans in employment. The group gathered to put pressure on Augusta's ruling bodies to ensure the enforcement of affirmative action legislation.

Strike by the National Organization for Women
On  October 29,1975, the National Organization for Women (NOW) held  a national labor strike , from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. in protest of women's marginalization and continued discrimination. The women in Macon protested against  women's marginalization and continued discrimination.

First Afro American Mayor in Macon
In addition to an emphasis on desegregating public facilities, the activism of this period was characterized by themes of improving salaries and additional conditions for blacks, women, and other minorities in the workplace, and increasing their access to state and county jobs.  Two decades later, this advocacy helped to pave the way for the election in 1999 of C. Jack Ellis, the first African American mayor in Macon's 176-year history.

Historical and Culture Legacy a Part of the Movement
Since the Movement, the city has preserved the historical and cultural legacy of civil rights activists.  Like the church-inspired freedom songs, secular music such as the blues, R&B (rhythm and blues), and soul contributed to the Civil Rights Movement by shoring up courage, inviting people to laugh at adversity, inspiring hope and persistence, and reminding those who sang or listened of the triumphs and disasters during the long struggle for equal rights that had come before them. The city's historic black movie palace and stage, the Douglass Theatre, commemorates this heritage.

The Georgia Music Hall of Fame also recognizes natives of the state: Ray Charles, rocker Little Richard, and James Brown and Otis Redding, two black artists whose songs such as “Say It Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud” (1968), "Respect" (1965), and "A Change is Gonna Come" (1965) contributed to the soundtrack of the Movement. The Tubman Museum of African American Art, History, and Culture.

Memorial Moments To Remember
Emancipation Proclamation
President, Abraham Lincoln’s signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  It consists of two executive orders  issued September 22, 1862 that declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863 and one  issued January 1, 1863, named the specific states where it applied. 
On July 28, 1917 the NAACP organized the largest civil rights protest in United States’ history. Beginning on 59th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City, an estimated 800 children led a 10,000 silent marchers. The marchers moved silently up the streets of New York City .
1911: The Crisis, the official monthly news publication of the organization is established. This publication would feature events and issues impacting African-Americans throughout the United States. During the Harlem Renaissance, many writers published short stories, novel excerpts and poems in its pages.  The new publication still exist today.
From May 1919 to October 1919, a number of race riots erupted in cities throughout the United States. In response James Weldon Johnson, a prominent leader in the NAACP, organized peaceful protests.
1930s: During this decade, the organization began providing moral, economic and legal support for African-Americans suffering criminal injustice. In 1931, the NAACP offered legal representation to the Scottsboro Boys.  The NAACP Legal Defense Fund provided defense of the Scottsboro Boys and bought national attention to the case.
From 1935 to 1938, the legal arm of the NAACP was headed by Charles Hamilton Houston. Houston, together with Thurgood Marshall.  Houston was the head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in  Murray v. Maryland and Missouri ex rel 1936, Gaines v. Canada were decided 1938. After Houston returned to private practice in 1938, Marshall became head of the Fund and used it to argue the cases of Sweat v. Painter and McLaurin v. Oklahoma Board of Regents of Higher Education, 1950, then Brown v Board of Education 1954-1955.


1948: President Harry Truman becomes the first president to formally address the NAACP. Truman worked with the NAACP to develop a commission to study and offer ideas to improve civil rights issues in the United States.
That same year, Truman signed Executive Order 9981 which desegregated the United States Armed Services. The Order declared ""It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale.
May 4, 1954 a  landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, led  by the head NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund  Thurgood Marshal,  five case  were consolidated under the name of Brown v. Board of Education.  Brown v. Board of Education overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling of The ruling declared that racial segregation violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The ruling made it unconstitutional to separate students of different races in public school. Ten years later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to racially segregate public facilities and employment.
1955: A local chapter secretary of the NAACP refuses to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala. Her name was Rosa Parks and her actions would set the stage for the Montgomery Bus Boycott. On the night that Rosa Parks was arrested, E.D. Nixon, head of the local NAACP chapter met with Martin Luther King Jr. and other local civil rights leaders to plan a citywide bus boycott. King was elected to lead the boycott because he was young, well-trained with  The boycott became a springboard for the efforts of organizations such as the NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)and Urban League to develop a national civil rights movement.
1964-1965: The NAACP played a pivotal role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. Through cases fought and won in the U.S. Supreme Court as well as grassroots initiatives such as the Freedom Summer, the NAACP consistently appealed to various levels of government to change American society.
Freedom Summer was a 1964 voter registration project in Mississippi, part of a larger effort by civil rights groups such as the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to expand black voting in the South. The Mississippi project was run by the local Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), an association of civil rights groups in which sncc was the most active member. About a hundred white college students had helped cofo register voters in November 1963, and several hundred more students were invited in 1964 for Freedom Summer, a much-expanded voter registration project.


                        Civil Right Act of 1964 and the Voting Right Act of 1965
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the civil rights movement. First proposed by President John F. Kennedy, it survived strong opposition from southern members of Congress and was then signed into law by Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. In subsequent years, Congress expanded the act and also passed additional legislation aimed at bringing equality to African Americans, such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Activists publicized the three protest marches to walk the 54-mile highway from Selma to the Alabama state capital of Montgomery as showing the desire of black American citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
The first march took place on March 7, 1965.  The march gained the nickname "Bloody Sunday" after its 600 marchers were attacked at the Edmund Pettus Bridge after leaving Selma.   The second march took place March 9, 1965 troopers, police, and marchers confront With Governor Wallace refusing to protect them.  President Johnson committed to do so. The third march started March 21, 1965, protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, the marchers averaged 10 miles (16 km) a day along U.S. Route 80. known in Alabama as the "Jefferson Davis Highway". The marchers arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25.[6] With thousands having joined the campaign, 25,000 people entered the capital city that day in support of voting rights. The Selma Voting Rights Campaign officially started on January 2, 1965, when King addressed a mass meeting in Brown Chapel in defiance of the anti-meeting injunction.
At midday, Judge Thomas, at the Justice Department’s  issued an injunction that suspended Alabama’s current literacy test, ordered Selma to take at least 100 applications per registration day, and guaranteed that all applications received by June 1 would be processed before July.  On March 15, President Johnson convened a joint session of Congress and outlined his new bill on live television.  On March 15, the president convened a joint session of Congress and outlined his new bill on live television. He praised the courage of African-American activists, and called Selma "a turning point in man's unending search for freedom" on par with the Battle of Appomattox in the American Civil War. Johnson added that his entire Great Society program, not only the voting rights bill, was part of the civil rights movement.