AUC Student Activists
On February 3, 1960, Lonnie King, a senior at Morehouse College, having read about the North Carolina A&T students’ sit-ins, talked to his classmates Julian Bond and Joseph Pierce about staging a similar protest in Atlanta. They also greatly admired the African Americans who participated in 1955 year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott that successfully ended segregation of buses in that city. They similarly admired the nine young African American students in Arkansas who, under protection of federal troops, integrated Little Rock High School in 1957. The students reasoned that sit-ins were something the Atlanta University Center students could do to bring an end to segregation in their city. Fifteen students from Atlanta University, Clark College, The Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College, Morris Brown College, and Spelman College held their first meeting on February 5, in Morehouse College Sale Hall Annex and began to plan sit-ins to challenge segregation in Atlanta.
Over the next four years, hundreds of AUC students participated in or supported the protests. A few took on the mantle of leadership, strategizing and organizing the protests. Many more participated in the sit-ins, marches, boycotts, picketing, and mass rallies. Some provided support making signs, disseminating information, and helping the activist students keep up with their class assignments. A few would be arrested and go to jail, some once and others multiple times. And a few students sacrificed completion of their college education and committed themselves to work full-time for civil rights and justice.