He was Atlanta’s mayor for eight years in the 1960s, and he was the only Southern politician to testify in favor of the Civil Rights Act.
Ivan Allen Jr. was born in Atlanta in 1911 and graduated from Georgia Tech before joining his father’s office supply company. Allen served in World War II. Afterwards, he took over his father’s business, becoming active in Atlanta’s civic affairs. He was president of the city’s chamber of commerce in 1960, then defeated Lester Maddox for Atlanta mayor in 1961.
For the next eight years, Allen’s moderate leadership guided the city through integration at a time when other Southern cities were embroiled in civil rights unrest. He reinforced Atlanta’s motto as “the city too busy to hate,” promoting the city’s economic and physical expansion and a progressive image that attracted new investors, including three major sports franchises—the Braves, Falcons, and Hawks.
The man whose temperate leadership helped make Atlanta the capital of the modern South was born on March 15, 1911, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.