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Social Relevancy

Page history last edited by Sam Crovatt 6 years, 2 months ago


     Richs Department store founded first opened its doors in 1867 was one of Georgia’s iconic locations in the south, closed over a decade ago in 2005. It was in the 1960’s where it would really play a key establishment in Atlanta’s Civil Rights movement. Groups of students have come together and have begun to do sit-ins in various locations out of Atlanta such as Greensboro, North Carolina where the idea originally came from. These sit-ins began to spur up amongst the southern states at various lunch counters where blacks were not allowed to eat with white people. So when buzz reached Georgia students from what is today’s Morehouse and Spellman teamed together devising a plan to enact their own sit-ins through out the Metro- Atlanta area and Richs Department Store was a definite goes to place.

     In part this article will be focusing on the Rich’s sit-in in particular, to bringing forth the social relevancy of the Rich’s sit-ins as it pertains to Atlanta’s progressive movement. For not knowing that such an event occurred in such a historic city the aim of this section is to bring the social relevancy towards common man. Amongst states like Alabama and Mississippi history doesn’t have Georgia nestled so much as to having historical events occurring in such a monumental era.



     With what started off being just an idea to gather any information, shockingly there was enough out there located throughout Georgia. These so called diamonds in a rough came at a process but were definitely worth the search. The images provided below were taking at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library located at Emory University. Primary archival research was done and out of that documents were recovered showing the numerous documents varying from the Western Union telegrams, letters and news clippings from many locations and people describing their cognitive status on the sit-in that occurred at Richs on October 19, 1960 were found highly useful. Not to take anything from other events that occurred in Georgia during the time frame but Richs carried the holy trinity of what would be considered worthy of social relevancy. One being the person, who referred to is Dr. King himself because he was the most iconic man of color if not one of them whom partook in an event that brought in huge media and attention. Two, you had the iconic establishment being Richs Department store for its central location and high trafficked area that brought in a vast amount of people in state as well as well out of state. The final piece being the iconic social movement, which was the Civil Rights Movement because anything that occurred during the time that involved peace walks, nonviolent protest and sit-ins were looked as fighting struggle for the betterment of African American people. 

The images provide below are actual photos of preserved documents pertaining to the Rich’s Department sit-in.



     The first photo is of a Western Union telegram addressed to the Rich’s Department explaining the “…unwarranted and unprovoked arrest of Dr Martin Luther King Jr., and a group of his youthful followers” was described in a Western Union telegram from Rick’s Department store to Richs Department Store Atlanta, Richard H. Rich papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.



     The second photo however is another Western Union telegram practically giving Richs a hand clap for having brought charges against Dr. King and the other students who partook in the sit-in. Richs was “commended for [its] courage stand against the agitators, incitors and property rights violators (Western Union telegram from William E. Bell to Richard Rich, Richard H. Rich papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.)



     This third and fourth photos are the pieces of a manuscript of an interview with Charles Black whom at the time was a student at Morehouse College who partook in various Civil Rights events. This particular image has significant importance because it provides a mental picture of what blacks thought about provided the circumstances. (A Transcript of a Record Interview with Charles A. Black, manuscript, 1967, Ralph Bunche Oral History Collection Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.)



     The conclusion to be interpreted from these findings is vast nonetheless. It can definitely be argued that these forms of communication referring more to the telegrams were a means of historic messaging by a means of people expressing themselves on the sit-ins. With such information provided and then some it ceases to amaze as to why more people do not know anything about such an event. Charles Black summed it up when explaining that blacks living in Atlanta were complacent with their position in society. Which goes to only help the argument that maybe that particular mindset is why people more the less black are not so worried about what actions of the sit-in. To them it was juts another cause hoping for the betterment of black people to point where folks getting arrested, beat, abused, and so forth was just the norm. in turn that mentality just carried out through the generations so much to the point that it was put on the list of many Civil Rights events.



Stuart A. Rose. Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University. 


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