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CONFRONTATION: The Civil Rights Movement at Dorchester Center

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

Civil Rights is a Human Right.

I am extremely blessed to curate this Civil Rights exhibit!

Dorchester Center is ramping up for the most dynamic Civil Rights Exhibit in Coastal Georgia to display its small-town role in a national movement!

Dorchester Academy, Midway, Georgia
Dorchester Academy, Midway, Georgia

The exhibit is titled: CONFRONTATION: The Civil Rights Movement at Dorchester Center


* Women in the Civil Rights Movement (only exhibit in the U.S. that focuses on female leadership)

* Project "C" and The Birmingham Campaign

* Youth Civil Rights Café

Confronting Jim Crow, racial injustice, inequality, and disenfranchisement, from 1865 to 1965 Black Americans were tired of the constant struggle for fair treatment in the United States, particularly in the southern states. In general, White people controlled the voting booth, jobs, crops, banks, schools, stores, etc. There were "Whites Only" signs and sometimes lynchings reminding Blacks of their second-class status in towns all throughout the South. But in every southern state, Black people had begun to speak up and to campaign for their rights to vote, to change the future of their lives. The main place where Blacks organized and Whites dared not lay claim to was the Black church. Many a meeting sprouted up and were sustained by churches. This ubiquitous rise of Black voices and nonviolent action in southern towns and cities became known as the movement for Southern freedom and justice, or more commonly "The Civil Rights Movement." And Liberty County played a major part in this time of great social change!

Beginning in 1961, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Leadership Conference, agreed to a transfer of the "Citizenship Education Program" from the Highlander School in Monteagle, Tennesee to a location in Georgia. But where would the program be headquartered?

Rev. Andrew Young, a young Congregational minister and member of SCLC's executive committee, advised Dr. King that there was an unused old run-down school associated with the Congregational Church in McIntosh, Liberty County, GA now owned by Black folks, Dorchester Improvement Association.

Who would manage the operations of the program? ANDREW YOUNG!

Who would organize the day-to-day planning and nonviolent direct action? DOROTHY COTTON!

Who would instruct the community leaders enrolled for citizenship education? SEPTIMA CLARK!

Then in January 1963 Dr. King and SCLC called for a 3-day secret retreat to take place at Dorchester Center. The goal of this retreat was to work with the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights' leader Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth to plan for what turned out to be the greatest display of white resistance to nonviolent direct action protest in Birmingham, Alabama - "Project C", the planning of the Birmingham Campaign. "C" stood for "Confrontation" confronting racial injustice.

The Birmingham Campaign was aired on television and it was seen in homes around the world. Who can forget Bull Connor, the young children marching in silent protest, the water hoses, and the dogs? While incarcerated for illegally protesting, Dr. King wrote his famous "Letter from A Birmingham City Jail" to the White ministers and the establishment in Birmingham, Alabama. Acter the assasination of President Kennedy, the 1963 March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs, one year later President Lyndon B. Johnson would sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The planning of these historic events in Birmingham, Alabama were inaugurated here in Liberty County at our very own Dorchester Center!

For more than nine years, Dorchester Center was the heartbeat of the Civil Rights Movement.

Responding to Dorothy Cotton's passing in 2018, Ambassador Andrew Young told an Atlanta Journal Costitution reporter, "All of the women got shortchanged...the educational program [at Dorchester Center] was the unsung backbone of the civil rights movement, as it trained more than 6,000 people -- many of whom who went on to lead important aspects of the movement across the South."

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964,

- prohibited discrimination in public places

- provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities

- and made employment discrimination illegal

This document was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.

Please keep your eyes and ears open for the exhibit at Dorchester Center.

The Place Where Civil Rights Still Matter

#HumanRightsMatter @ Midway, Georgia

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