[Updated] Georgia Historical Society accepts DHS students’ application for MLK historical marker; students launch fundraiserMartin Luther King, Jr., speaking against the Vietnam War, St. Paul Campus, University of Minnesota, 27 April 1967. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Decatur, GA — The Georgia Historical Society has accepted an application for a historical marker in Decatur commemorating the site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s arrest and illegal sentencing in 1960. The historical marker was proposed as part of a research project, “Commemorating King,” conducted by Decatur High School students.
The research group, along with the Decatur Education Foundation, is now hosting a fundraiser to raise $5,000 from the community for the cost of placing the marker.
The group hopes that by donating, the community will feel connected to the marker and the history it will represent.
The fundraiser can be found here: https://decatureducationfoundation.org/MLKmarker.
The proposed marker near Decatur City Hall will educate residents and visitors about a little-known piece of Civil Rights history: when Dr. King was illegally sentenced to “public works,” otherwise known as a chain gang or hard labor, in a misdemeanor traffic case. According to the students’ research, Dr. King’s arrest, and the court’s malfeasant sentence and incarceration of Dr. King, had a significant impact on the Civil Rights movement and the political direction of the country when then-candidate John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy intervened to free Dr. King from jail. This act led Black voters in the South to shift parties and elect John F. Kennedy over incumbent Vice President Nixon.
“We’re super happy to see GHS support our cause and accept our application. It’s been months of a lot of work, but it all paid off. Now we have the city, Beacon Hill, the community, and now GHS committing their support to the campaign. It feels good!” said Genesis Reddicks, one of the students who contributed research to the project.
Liza Watson, another student who conducted research for the marker, said “It is so rewarding to see all our hard work bring such an important change to our community. I feel so honored to have been part of a process that uplifts Black history and I am thankful to our panelists and the adults and students who collaborated on and supported this project. Having the confederate monument come down and knowing this marker will be erected, all during the Black Lives Matter movement makes me very proud and hopeful.”
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