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  THIS MONTH IN GEORGIA'S

BLACK HISTORY

 

BENJAMIN ELIJAH MAYS

January 2, 1970

Benjamin Mays was selected president of the board of education for the Atlanta City School System. Mays, who has been called “the greatest school master of his generation”, is also a past president of Morehouse College. He was a mentor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

THELMA “BUTTERFLY” MCQUEEN was Born

January 7, 1911

Actress Thelma "Butterfly" McQueen was born in Tampa, Florida. She lived part of her youth in Augusta, Ga., but graduated from high school in New York. She became a dancer (where she earned the "Butterfly" nickname), but is better remembered for her acting on stage, radio, television, and motion pictures. Though she graduated from college in 1975, McQueen will always be remembered for her role as Prissy in the movie Gone With the Wind--in particular her line, "Oh, Miss Scarlett, I don't know nuthin' 'bout birthin' babies"). She died near Augusta on Nov. 25, 1995, when her clothes caught on fire while trying to light a lantern.

 

HAMILTON HOLMES and CHARLAYNE HUNTER

January 9, 1961

Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter arrived at the University of Georgia campus to complete the registration process.  A special edition of the campus newspaper, the Red and Black, calls for calm and urges students not to attempt to interfere with the federal court order. While things were relatively peaceful in Athens, it was quite different in Atlanta. There, federal judge William Bootle had scheduled a hearing on the state's appeal of his integration order. At the state capitol, Gov. Ernest Vandiver announced that if the state's appeal for a stay of the federal desegregation order is turned down, he may close the University pursuant to a 1956 state law forbidding the co-education of black and white students. By chance, the 1961 session of the General Assembly had convened on this day, and what to do to keep the University of Georgia segregated occupied everyone's attention. Suddenly word reached the state capitol that Judge Bootle had granted a stay, prompting tremendous cheering in each chamber. The celebration didn't last long, for two hours later, federal circuit court judge Elbert Tuttle overrode Bottle's stay. Georgia Attorney General Eugene Cook caught a plane to Washington D.C. to appeal to Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black to reinstate judge Bootle's stay.  Back in Athens, the rumor had spread throughout campus that Gov. Vandiver was going to close the University the next day. That night after a basketball game, a crowd of about 1,000 students gathered in the streets to protest court-ordered desegregation scheduled to take place the next day. Two students were arrested, but there was no violence.  A little after midnight, University president Aderhold announced that he had received no official order to close, so classes would proceed on schedule on Jan. 11.

 

DOMINIQUE WILKINS was Born

January 11, 1960

University of Georgia and Atlanta Hawk basketball great Dominique Wilkins was born in Sorbonne, France.  Wilkins is the eighth overall scoring leader in NBA History. He now serves as the Executive Vice President of the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Organization.

 

THOMAS A. DORSEY

January 23, 1993

Thomas A. Dorsey, known as the father of black gospel music, died in Chicago at age 93. Dorsey was born in Villa Rica, Georgia.  He wrote his classics and most famous song, “Precious Lord”, in the grief following the death of his first wife while in child birth.

 

JACKIE ROBINSON was Born

January 31, 1919

Baseball great Jackie Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia. Although he was born in Georgia, Robinson's family moved to California when he was young. He was a multi-sport athlete at UCLA. He broke professional baseball's color barrier by playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Not only did Robinson excel at the game, but was masterful at controlling his emotions in the face of opposition to his playing. But breaking the color barrier was only one of many "firsts" for Robinson. He was also the first black to win the MVP award, the first black elected to the Hall of Fame (1962), and the first baseball player ever to appear on an American postage stamp.

    

 

    

 

 

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