- Oral Histories of the American South: The Civil Rights Movement
- Oral history interview with Grace Towns Hamilton, July 19, 1974
- Hamilton, Grace Towns, 1907-1992
- Contributor to Resource:
- Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd
Southern Oral History Program
- Date of Original:
- Southern Regional Council
Women civil rights workers
Young Women's Christian associations
Women in politics--Georgia
African American women civil rights workers--Georgia--Atlanta
African American women legislators--Georgia
African Americans--Civil rights--Southern States
Civil rights movements--Southern States
Atlanta Urban League
Atlanta (Ga.)--Race relations
- Hamilton, Grace Towns, 1907-1992
- United States, Georgia, Fulton County, Atlanta, 33.749, -84.38798
United States, Southern States, 33.346678, -84.119434
oral histories (literary works)
- Grace Towns Hamilton was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1907. She begins with a brief overview of her family history, describing her family's roots in Georgia and Virginia and her possible connection to a woman enslaved by Governor George Towns, the secessionist governor of Georgia from 1847 to 1851. By the time Hamilton was born, her mother and father had settled in Atlanta, where her father taught at Atlanta University. While her father was active at the university and the NAACP, Hamilton's mother focused on community activities, namely the Gate City Kindergarten Association. Hamilton recalls her childhood years with fondness, stressing the racially integrative nature of the Atlanta University community. In fact, it was not until she left Atlanta in 1927 to take a job with the YWCA in Columbus, Ohio, that she first became aware of racial segregation and discrimination. Hamilton had been actively involved with the YWCA during her college years at Atlanta University, and she explains how although the YWCA continued to have racially segregated conventions, the organization was more progressive than others during those years. She accepted the position in Ohio so that she could go to graduate school. Hamilton spent time in Memphis, Tennessee, during the 1930s and early 1940s. By 1943, she returned to Atlanta, where she soon became the director of Atlanta's branch of the Urban League. Hamilton held this position until 1960. She describes her focus on investigating inequalities in segregated education, on advocating for voter registration, and in providing access to housing for African Americans. In addition to discussing her extensive work with the YWCA and the Urban League, Hamilton also addresses her association with such organizations as the Southern Tenant Farmers Union and the Southern Regional Council, as well as her perception of and relationship with other leading activists of the era. Hamilton concludes the interview with a brief discussion of the sit-in movement of 1960 in Atlanta and her election to the Georgia state legislature in 1965.
The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the aggregation and enhancement of partner metadata.
- Metadata URL:
- Title from menu page (viewed on Nov. 17, 2008).
Interview participants: Grace Towns Hamilton, interviewee; Mattie, interviewee; Jacquelyn Hall, interviewer.
This electronic edition is part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South. It is a part of the collection Oral histories of the American South.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner. Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers.
- Contributing Institution:
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Documenting the American South (Project)