Sumter County in the Civil Rights Movement

Sumter County in the Civil Rights MovementYear Erected: 2015

Marker Text: Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for protesting racial segregation in Albany on December 16, 1961, and held in the Sumter County Jail. King’s arrest dovetailed with community and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) efforts to establish the Sumter County Movement. Largely comprised of preteen and teenage students, the movement repeatedly challenged segregation from 1963 to1965. In 1963, 33 adolescent girls were incarcerated in a Civil War-era stockade after their arrest for protesting. The “Stolen Girls” gained national attention after a SNCC photographer revealed the stockade’s unsanitary conditions. Americus garnered further attention when four activists were arrested for insurrection under Georgia’s 1871 seditious conspiracy law, a capital crime. A federal court ruled the law unconstitutional, establishing that peaceful protests could not be punishable by death. The Movement’s success helped end segregation in southwest Georgia.

Erected by the Georgia Historical Society and the Sumter County Board of Commissioners

Tips for Finding This Marker: 500 West Lamar Street, Americus, GA