Several black students arrive for registration at Savannah High on Aug. 29, 1963, desegregating the previously all-white school. Pictured, from left, are Lillian Meyers, Ulysses Bryant Jr., John Briggs, Georgia Lowman, Anistine Thompson and John Alexander.
1963, desegregation changed the lives of 19 Savannah teens, society
By Jan Skutch
The summer of 1963 was a watershed time for civil rights in America.
In June, Alabama Gov. George Wallace tried to block two black students from entering the state’s flagship university. Medgar Evers, field secretary of the Mississippi NAACP, was gunned down in the driveway of his Jackson, Miss., home.
In August, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a coalition of civil rights groups and more than 250,000 people in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
In Savannah, black demonstrators were arrested for trying to get served at such landmark establishments as Morrison’s Cafeteria, Anton’s Restaurant and the downtown Krystal.
Otis Johnson, a 21-year-old Savannah State College freshman, left the Thunderbolt school in June to travel across town to desegregate all-white Armstrong Junior College.
He was the only one of 65 classmates to follow through during a “student uprising” led by Savannah State students Bobby L. Hill, James Brown Jr. and Carolyn Quillion. [Continue reading story at the Savannah Morning News.]