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  THIS MONTH IN GEORGIA'S

BLACK HISTORY

 

 

BENJAMIN MAYS  August 1, 1895

Black educator and civil rights advocate Benjamin Mays was born in rural South Carolina, son of former slaves turned tenant farmers. Committed to the importance of education, Mays attended several colleges before obtaining his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1935. On his birthday in 1936, he became president of Morehouse College in Atlanta.  During his presidency, the college's enrollment doubled, while its endowment increased four-fold.  At age 72, he became the first black president of the Atlanta Board of Education, a position he held for 12 years. During his life, he received 49 honorary doctorate degrees. 

 

 

 MARCUS GARVEY  August 17, 1887

Black Nationalist, Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born.  Garvey organized the Black Nationalist Movement of the 1920’s in the United States.  Garvey went to New York City in 1916 and recruited followers for his Universal Negro Improvement Association.  Its program was to unite all Black people through the establishment in Africa of a country and government of their own.  The UNIA became the largest Black social movement in American history.  With nearly two thousand branches around the world and up to 6 million due-paying members in the United States, it was probably the most influential Black militant organization in the first half of this century, helping to shape almost every militant group that came after it.  Garvey’s genius was that he fused longings for power, God, and community into constructive, self-enhancing venues without diluting their strength or energy.  During the Ku Klux Klan’s heyday, Garvey came to Atlanta to meet with the Klan.  By 1922, there were about a hundred UNIA branches in the South.  They avoided problems with the Klan and lynches by voicing their distaste for integration and “social equality”.  After Garvey was convicted on trumped-up federal charges of mail fraud, he served his sentence in the Atlanta penitentiary and was later deported. 

 

 

W.E.B. BUBOIS August 27, 1963

Former Atlanta University professor and civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois died at age 95 in Accra, Ghana. For almost 25 years, Du Bois taught and wrote as a faculty member at Atlanta University, later recalling that it was this period where he developed many of his thoughts and beliefs on black equality. He is probably best remembered for helping organize the Niagara Movement in 1905 and for co-founding the NAACP four years later. Later in life, Du Bois became bitter about the progress of civil rights in America. In 1961, he openly embraced communism and moved to Ghana, where he renounced his U.S. citizenship.

 

EDWIN MOSES August 31, 1956

Morehouse College graduate and Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses competed in cross-country, track, and football in high school and entered Morehouse College (Atlanta, Ga.) on an academic scholarship. There he first ran the 400-metre race and the 120-yard high hurdles but began running the 400-metre hurdles in 1976. In the 1976 Olympic Games at Montreal, he won the gold medal and set his first world record of 47.64 sec. Moses proceeded to set successive world records for the 400-metre hurdles of 47.45 sec (1977), 47.13 sec (1980), and 47.02 sec (1983). He received a B.S. degree in physics in 1978 and moved to California, where he worked as an engineer and trained. He won the James E. Sullivan Award as the best U.S. amateur athlete of 1984.

 

 

 

 

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