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Phase One - Gradualism and Negotiation - 1946

January: After Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District seat is vacated abruptly, African American leaders step up their voter registration campaign. They increase the number of registered black voters from about 7,000 to 21,000 by the July election.

The All-Citizen’s Registration Committee, a coalition of a number of community organizations under the banner of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), leads the voter registration campaign. Atlanta University History Professor Clarence Bacote is the head of this umbrella entity. It includes the Fulton County Citizens Democratic Club established by A.T. Walden and John Wesley Dobbs as well as fraternal organizations and women’s organizations such as social activist Ruby Blackburn’s To Improve Conditions (TIC) Club. Ten thousand black women and men register in time to vote in the upcoming election.

July: The plan to strengthen black voting power to exert influence in the mid-term election is ultimately successful. Nineteen white candidates throw their hats in the ring, but only one, Helen Mankin, responds to black leaders’ request for a meeting. She meets secretly with this leadership, garnering their support of her candidacy. Mankin wins the election because of black votes. She is derisively called “the Belle of Ashby Street” by Governor Eugene Talmadge.

The lynching of two African American couples at Moore’s Ford Bridge in Monroe, Georgia, stuns Atlanta and the nation. In response to the murders, an 18-year-old Morehouse College student named Martin Luther King, Jr. writes a letter to the Atlanta Constitution saying that African Americans “are entitled to the basic wants and opportunities of American citizenship.”

The Atlanta Urban League spearheads efforts to address the shortage of housing for African Americans by establishing a Temporary Coordinating Committee on Housing (TCCH). The committee identifies land and plans for building new residential neighborhoods for African Americans.