A grassroots organization, The Committee to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Desegregation in Savannah, GA recently held a press conference to announce plans for a community-wide celebration of the “Second Siege of Savannah” which occurred in 1963. This is what the late Benjamin Van Clark called the Civil Rights Movement in Savannah during the summer of 1963. The celebration will be a twoday event beginning with a symposium about major civil right victories during the summer of 1963 on Saturday, August 24, 2013, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm at Savannah High School and ending with an Ole Fashion Sunday Mass Meeting on August 25, 2013 at the First African Baptist Church at 4:00 pm. The theme for the meeting will be: “Reflections of the Past, A Glimpse of the Future.”
The modern day direct action struggle for justice and equal rights in Savannah began in 1960 with sit-ins and boycotts of downtown businesses.
However, the major non-violent protests against segregated public accommodations, the desegregation of Armstrong State College and the public schools, and local participation in the historic March on Washington in 1963 was a watershed year in the Civil Rights Movement in Savannah.
“History is more than dates and events. History is people…” This celebration will lift-up what Dr. Martin Luther King called “the ground crew,” those unsung, nameless people that were in the local army of Freedom Fighters. Some of these unsung heroes and sheroes will be recognized at the Mass Meeting on Sunday. One of the important unsung sheroes of the Savannah Movement, Mrs. Mercedes Wright Arnold, has agreed to be the main speaker at the Mass Meeting.