The Lessons of Albany, Georgia, 1961–2

  • James A. Colaiaco


The first test of SCLC’s capacity for nonviolent warfare occurred in Albany, Georgia, in 1962. The fifth largest city in the state, with a population of 56 000, 40 per cent black, Albany was a stronghold of racism in the Deep South. The Albany Herald, published by staunch segregationist James Gray, regularly featured editorials and stories supporting white supremacy and urging the City Commission to resist requests by blacks for desegregation. In 1961, most Albany blacks were not registered to vote, and the city’s public facilities, including the bus and railway stations, lunch counters, schools, parks, hospitals and libraries, were completely segregated. As historian Howard Zinn, then a reporter for the Southern Regional Council, observed: ‘In the year 1961, a Negro arrived in Albany on the colored part of the bus, entered a colored waiting room, drank from a colored water fountain, used a colored restroom, walked eight blocks to find a restaurant which would feed him, and travelled six miles to find a good Negro moteľ.1 Albany’s entire justice system was white: the courts were segregated, the jails were segregated; the judges, juries, sheriffs, deputies and the city police were white. Nevertheless, by late 1961, the student sit-ins and the Freedom Rides had exerted an effect upon the city’s black population.


Black Community Federal Court Justice Department White Supremacy Voter Registration 
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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© James A. Colaiaco 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. Colaiaco
    • 1
  1. 1.BaldwinUSA

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