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This Far by Faith

Journeys

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1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues
1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW
1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW
1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER
Next Journey
A Faith Forged in Albany 1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANING



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Timeline: 1946-1966 View Detailed Timeline
1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues
1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues



1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER
A Faith Forged in Albany



"I don't have a martyr complex; I'm fighting because I want to live. Living in this system has not been life for me. But I can't take someone else's life knowingly. I thought we were going to Mississippi because people have been getting killed there for years and no one cared. I thought we were going there to say to the world that if any of us dies, it was not a redneck who shot us but the whole society that had us killed." --Prathia Hall (1964)



From October to December of 1961, Albany, GA tested the strategy and the faith of civil rights organizations. It ended with the movement's first real failure - and the beginning of a new coherence.


Albany, GA demonstrators praying on sidewalk.

Albany, GA demonstrators praying on sidewalk.


Three organizations worked towards the desegregation of bus stations. The NAACP wanted to force the desegregation of bus stations through the courts. CORE instead worked to force the issue by bringing "Freedom Riders" from the North into Georgia. Meanwhile, SNCC volunteers, with money from Dr. King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, bodily took over the bus station in Albany, determined to accomplish the same thing through mass demonstration.

The NAACP had to spend its scarce resources bailing people out of jail. Ultimately, they forced SNCC members to choose membership in one organization or the other. Since the NAACP and SNCC had different means to their ends, an umbrella group - the Albany Movement, a coalition of black civic improvement organizations - formed to organize mass marches and boycotts against segregation. The Albany protests demonstrated not only SNCC's appeal, but also the importance of Afro-American religious beliefs and institutions in the freedom struggle.


Demonstration in Albany, GA.

Demonstration in Albany, GA.


Over one thousand mostly young people, including Martin Luther King, Jr. were arrested. They were arrested in such numbers that soon the adults joined them, and the call for desegregated bus terminals grew into a call for a desegregated city.

The movement had relied on media images of police brutalizing protestors to sway public opinion; however, in Albany, their task was complicated by the city's chief of police, Laurie Pritchett, who responded instead by arresting demonstrators nonviolently. Instead of dramatic news footage of demonstrators being hauled away by vicious rednecks, Albany's police peacefully arrested demonstrators charged with breaking the law. Pritchett succeeded not only in keeping the peace, but also in defeating the movement there. Six years later, Albany was still segregated, and voter registration remained an elusive goal for blacks.

Rev. Prathia Hall participated in many mass meetings held at Albany's churches, and she describes her moving experience as follows:

"I was profoundly impacted by the Albany movement and the southwest Georgia project conducted by SNCC. It was my first experience of the deep South…the very first night, there was a mass meeting. The mass meeting itself was just pure power…you could hear the rhythm of the feet, and the clapping of the hands from the old prayer meeting tradition…people singing the old prayer songs…there was something about hearing those songs, and hearing that singing in Albany in the midst of a struggle for life against death, that was just the most powerful thing I'd ever experienced."


The Albany movement proved the success of certain strategies, but also highlighted the limitations of nonviolent action. Clayborne Carson, in his book, SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s, quotes Charles Sherrod's observation that nonviolence remained "an invincible instrument of war". The only question was whether nonviolent activists were willing to continue to suffer.

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Rev. Prathia Hall on how after Malcolm X visited SNCC workers after Bloody Sunday




People of Faith


 Prathia Hall
Prathia Hall

 Howard Thurman
Howard Thurman


Did You Know?



Music served an integral role in the struggle for freedom.
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