Augusta Movement


In March 1960, students from Augusta's historically black Paine College initiated the direct action phase of the city's Civil Rights movement when they organized sit-ins at area department stores. Biracial negotiations ensued, but the white negotiating committee ultimately reneged on their commitment to desegregate the city's lunch counters. White intransigence continued to foil the city's student-led reform movement until April 1962 when local businessmen reopened negotiations with student leaders to forestall negative publicity in advance of the U.S. Masters Golf Tournament. Although a small number of stores desegregated before negotiations concluded, Augusta experienced little integration prior to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Racial tensions continued to simmer after the passage of federal legislation, however, and ultimately reached a boiling point in May 1970 when race riots erupted throughout the city.

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