@ New Georgia Encyclopedia
DescriptionEncyclopedia article about the Americus Movement which provided leadership for civil rights activism in Americus, a small town in Sumter County located some thirty miles north of Albany in the southwestern portion of Georgia. When the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) targeted the area as part of a voter registration and citizenship education plan, the outsiders discovered a committed group of local activists working through an organization called the Sumter County Movement. Three phases marked the movement between 1963 and 1965: 1) Learning phase: In July 1963 fewer than a dozen activists began the first marches, with the number of protesters growing to more than 250 and arrests becoming widespread. 2)Attempting to integrate the Americus public schools: Although four African American students entered Americus High School in the fall of 1964 under the Freedom of Choice Plan, all but one female student had withdrawn after four months due to constant harassment. Put in jail during exam week, Americus officials ultimately released her and allowed her to take her exams on the condition that she leave the state for the summer of 1965. 3) Registering African American voters and continuing school integration efforts: Americus officials arrested four black women for voting in the white women's voting line during a 1965 Americus election. In July 1965, Hosea Williams of the SCLC and SNCC, under the direction of John Lewis, joined forces with members of the local movement and filled the streets of Americus with more than 600 estimated marchers. The Voting Rights...