Lt. Col. Lemuel Penn and the Civil Rights Act

Lt. Col. Lemuel Penn and the Civil Rights Act Marker

Image Courtesy of David Seibert

Year Erected: 2006

Marker Text: On the night of July 11, 1964 three African-American World War II veterans returning home following training at Ft. Benning , Georgia were noticed in Athens by local members of the Ku Klux Klan. The officers were followed to the nearby Broad River Bridge where their pursuers fired into the vehicle, killing Lt. Col. Lemuel Penn. When a local jury failed to convict the suspects of murder, the federal government successfully prosecuted the men for violations under the new Civil Rights Act of 1964, passed just nine days before Penn's murder. The case was instrumental in the creation of a Justice Department task force whose work culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

Erected by the Georgia Historical Society, Lemuel Penn Memorial Committee, and Colbert Grove Baptist Church

Tips for Finding This Site: At intersection of Georgia Route 172 and Roy Wood Road.  The marker is at the Madison/Elbert County Line, at the Broad River.