Sit-Ins and Arrests

The first sit-in organized by the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights (COAHR) was on March 15, 1960 at 11 a.m. The students chose to target downtown lunch counters in federally owned buildings or sites of interstate commerce: City Hall, the State Capitol, Fulton County Courthouse, the Trailways and Greyhound bus terminals, the railroad stations and two federal office buildings. Seventy-seven students were arrested that day.

On May 17, students gathered at Trevor Arnett Library on the campus of Atlanta University to march through downtown Atlanta in commemoration of the sixth anniversary of Brown vs. Topeka, Board of Education. Their plan was to march from campus, past the state capitol, and to end at Wheat Street Baptist Church for a mass meeting. Governor Ernest Vandiver promised that state troopers would be called to the capitol building. Over 2,000 marchers were stopped by City of Atlanta police, and march-leader Lonnie King was told to divert, or be arrested. The march was diverted with no violence.

Throughout 1960-1961, the COAHR would organize many more sit-ins, as well as picket lines and boycotts of local businesses, kneel-ins at white churches and legal actions against the City of Atlanta.