To establish the Americus Civil Rights and Family History Center
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The Americus, Georgia Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's, was one of the most significant social movements of its era. It is often referenced by noted civil rights activists and scholars because of its length of engagement. The Americus arrests are noted for having the highest number of juveniles incarcerated and held longer than their counterparts in other cities such as Selma, Birmingham, and Albany, Georgia.
The Americus Movement resulted in two of the most important civil rights legal victories of the southern civil rights movement being decided in federal court in Americus. The impact of these high profile cases reached far beyond Americus, and when coupled with daily massive street demonstrations, they helped push the Voting Rights Act out of congress, and broke the resistance of the southern filibuster.The outcome of these legal victories helped facilitate the passage of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Former Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee Chairman, now congressman John Lewis, referenced the Americus Movement during his speech at the historic March on Washington in 1963. Further, Americus, Georgia was the only place where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. of SCLC, and John Lewis of SNCC. heads of two major civil rights organizations, were both jailed.
Since 2008, the Americus-Sumter County Movement Committee, Inc. has been collecting documentation of the Americus Movement of 1963-1966. The ASCMC is a coalition of Americus veteran civil rights activists whose mission is to establish a Civil Rights Center to collect, preserve and archive papers, photographs, oral history, and artifacts related to the Americus Movement and African American family history. The Center will also feature a permanent collection gallery, a media room to record Oral History interviews and multi-purpose rooms for a library, forums, film presentations, additional gallery space to exhibit and promote the work of local artists and a children's village with creative programming that will educate, inspire and empower Americus youth.
The ASCMC has recently partnered with the City Federation of Colored Women to establish the Civil Rights Center at the now vacant historic Colored Hospital building. The Colored Hospital was established in 1923 to provide health and medical care to African Americans in Americus and Sumter County. At the time, it was the only medical facility where black medical professionals could practice and serve people of color. History notes that neither Atlanta, New York or Chicago produced the number of trained medical doctors, dentists, pharmacists and nurses, despite enjoying major populations of people of color. It was not only a vital lifeline of a poor and marginalized African American community, it was a stabilizing institution that unified and sustained them in the midst of the horrendous Jim Crow era. When the hospital ceased operation in 1953, It was the City Federated of Colored Women who stepped in to save and care for the building. During the Americus Civil Rights Movement, the hospital became a "Freedom Center", where literacy classes were conducted to teach African Americans how to prepare to pass the literacy tests required to register to vote. It also housed a library established by movement activists because the city library was segregated, and became a center for planning movement strategy and its implementation. Given its history and legacy of service, the Colored Hospital is the ideal building for a civil rights center.
Please consider signing our petition to establish the Americus Civil Rights Center to preserve the legacy of the Americus Movement for generations to come.
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