Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. considered it one of his few failures.
The Albany Movement in the early 1960s had a simple but formidable objective: the desegregation of an entire community, from bus stations to lunch counters. A coalition mobilized thousands and brought national attention to southwest Georgia, particularly after Dr. King’s arrival in December 1961.
Albany Police Chief Laurie Pritchett studied King’s tactics and decided that brutality would only bring unwanted media attention. Instead, he simply arrested thousands of demonstrators and filled the jails, parceling protestors out to surrounding counties as needed.
In the end, King ran out of marchers before Pritchett ran out of jails. King considered the movement a setback, but many local black leaders disagreed. Black voter registration was up, and the city removed all segregation statutes from the books in 1962.
King and his followers learned important lessons they would use effectively in Birmingham in 1963. The Albany Civil Rights Institute opened in 1998 in the Old Mt. Zion Church, where organizers held the first mass meeting of the Albany Movement on November 25, 1961, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.