Throughout February Atlanta's Jazz Station 91.9 WCLK will present Black History Moments, focusing on key stories, organizations and people that made a difference.
Ella Baker is considered by many to be the most influential woman in the Civil Rights Movement. Baker was valedictorian at HBCU Shaw University in 1927. She worked alongside some of the most famous civil rights leaders of the 20th century.She also mentored many emerging activists, including Stokely Carmichael and Bob Moses. Baker criticized top down leadership, favoring grassroots organizing.
She realized this vision most fully in the 1960s as the primary advisor and strategist of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Ella Baker criticized not just racism in America, but also the sexism and classism within the Civil Rights Movement itself. She was honored with stamp by the U.S Postal Service in 2009.
W.E.B. DuBois was a sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, and writer. He was born in Massachusetts in 1868. After completing graduate work at the University of Berlin and Harvard, where he was the first African American to earn a doctorate, he became a professor at Atlanta University.
His 1903 book of essays, The Souls of Black Folk, is a seminal work in the history of sociology, and a cornerstone of African-American literary history. Du Bois was one of the founders of the NAACP in 1909. He died at age 95 in 1963 in Ghana, where he was working on an encyclopedia of the African Diaspora.A bust of DuBois sits as a tribute in the Harkness Hall Quadrangle on the Clark Atlanta University Campus, where he once taught and wrote.
The Atlanta Student Movement
The Atlanta Student Movement was formed in 1960 by Atlanta University Center students Lonnie King and Julian Bond. They and others were inspired by the Greensboro sit-ins, with the idea of organizing similar actions in Atlanta.
AUC school presidents called them in and asked them to publish a document instead of organizing direct action. In the end, the Atlanta Student Movement did both, issuing An Appeal for Human Rights demanding an end to unjust racial segregation.
Within days, they began sit-ins at segregated downtown Atlanta businesses.
An October 1960 sit in resulted in the arrest of several students and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who by now had endorsed and supported the Atlanta Student Movement.
In 2010, in recognition of their achievements, Atlanta’s Fair Street was renamed Atlanta Student Movement Boulevard.
John Wesley Dobbs
John Wesley Dobbs was a civic and political leader in Atlanta for much of the early 20th Century. He was often referred to as the unofficial "mayor" of Auburn Avenue, the main retail street for the African American Community.
Dobbs co-founded the Atlanta Negro Voters League with civil rights attorney A.T. Walden, leading voter registration efforts that registered 20,000 African Americans in Atlanta from 1936 to 1946.This new political power helped gain the hiring in 1948 of the city’s first eight African-American police officers.
Dobbs married Irene Ophelia Thompson in 1906. They had six daughters together, all of whom graduated from Spelman College.
His family home still stands at 540 John Wesley Dobbs Avenue, formerly Houston Street.
Houston Street was renamed in Dobbs's honor by Maynard Jackson in 1994.
Jackson, the first African-American mayor of Atlanta, was Dobbs' grandson. A statue of John Wesley Dobbs, erected in 1996, stands along Auburn Avenue.
Cathy Liggins Hughes
Cathy Hughes is an African-American entrepreneur, broadcaster, and business executive. In 1975, Hughes became the first woman Vice President and General Manager of a station in the nation’s capital at WHUR at Howard University. She helped create the format known as the “Quiet Storm,” which revolutionized urban radio and was aired nationwide.
In 1980, Hughes founded the media company Radio One(now known as Urban One), and with then-husband Dewey Hughes, bought an AM station in Washington, D.C.
She faced financial difficulties and subsequently lost her home and moved with her young son to live at the station.
Radio One went on to own 70 radio stations in nine major markets in the U.S., including Atlanta.
When the company went public in 1999, Cathy Hughes became the first African-American woman to head a publicly traded corporation.
Katherine Johnson was born in West Virginia in 1918.She is a mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of American manned spaceflights. During her 35-year career at NASA and its predecessor, she earned a reputation for mastering complex manual calculations and helped the space agency pioneer the use of computers to perform the tasks.
Johnson's work included calculations critical to the first manned spaceflights of Project Mercury and the subsequent Apollo lunar missions. Her calculations were also essential to the beginning of the Space Shuttle program, and she worked on plans for a mission to Mars.
In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
She was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson as a lead character in the 2016 film Hidden Figures.
Ronald E. McNair
Ronald E. McNair was a physicist and NASA Astronaut. He was born in Lake City South Carolina in 1950.He was high school valedictorian, and he graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T.He earned a Ph.D. degree from MIT, becoming nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics.
In 1978, McNair was selected as one of thirty-five applicants from a pool of ten thousand for the NASA astronaut program. He flew on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984 as a mission specialist.McNair was selected for a second Challenger Mission, which launched on January 28, 1986. He was subsequently killed when Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds after liftoff.
To this date over 30 places have been named in honor of him, including a crater on the moon, and Atlanta’s own Ronald E. McNair High School.
Robert “Bob” Moses is an American educator and civil rights activist, known for his work as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
He also founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. He left a job as a young teacher in The Bronx to devote his life to civil rights. Moses was beaten and arrested attempting to register African Americans to vote in Mississippi in 1961. He also organized sit ins and freedom schools. Martin Luther King, Jr. said found Bob Moses' work inspiring.
Since 1982 Moses has developed the nationwide Algebra Project. He has received a MacArthur Fellowship and other awards for this work, which emphasizes teaching algebra skills to minority students based on broad-based community organizing and collaboration with parents, teachers and students.
Hosea Williams was born in Attapulgus in Southwest Georgia in 1926. He was an American civil rights leader, activist, ordained minister, businessman, philanthropist, scientist, and politician. He was a combat veteran of World War II.
He may be best known as a trusted member of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s inner circle. In The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King depended on Williams to organize and stir masses of people into nonviolent direct action in multiple protest campaigns they waged together. King alternately referred to Williams, his chief field lieutenant, as his "bull in a china closet" and his "Castro".
Vowing to continue King's work for the poor, Williams is well known as the founder of one of the largest social services organizations in America, Atlanta-based Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless.
His famous motto was "Unbought and Unbossed."
Andrew Young is an American politician, diplomat, and activist. He was born in New Orleans, and he began his career as a pastor in rural Alabama and Georgia, Young was an early leader in the civil rights movement, serving as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was a close confidant to Martin Luther King Jr., and he was with Dr. King when he was assassinated in Memphis in 1968.
Young later became active in politics, serving first as a U.S. Congressman from Atlanta, then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and finally as Mayor of Atlanta. His work to make Atlanta into an International City is credited with helping make the city’s economy the biggest in the Southeast.
And He helped bring the Centennial Olympic Games to Atlanta in 1996.
Since leaving political office, Young has founded or served in a large number of organizations working on issues of public policy.