The Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project opened its fall 2015 semester with C-SPAN in the classroom, taping the class for its American History TV series, which you can find here. The project ended the semester with a Wall Street Journal article explaining how students in the class discovered the long-lost gravesite of a Georgia man, Isaiah Nixon, who was killed in 1948 because he voted.
On the morning of July 4, 1944, Primus E. King, an African American duly registered to vote in Georgia, sought to cast a ballot at the Muscogee County Courthouse in Columbus in the Democratic Party's primary election. Shortly after entering the courthouse, King was roughly turned away by a law officer who escorted him back out to the street. During this time the Democratic Party monopolized political activity in Georgia, as in other southern states, and the party's primary provided the only occasion in which a voter was offered a choice between candidates seeking offices in state and local government. For this very reason blacks were denied participation in the primaries by the Georgia Democratic Party and its county affiliates.
After Primus King, a black barber and pastor, successfully sued the Democratic Party for denying his right to vote on the grounds of race and color, three-term Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge declared, "This is a white man's country and we must keep it so." The best way to do so: "Pistols."
Election day is usually a grand occasion for a small town like Alston, GA. For the white people in town, September 8, 1948, marked a day of good ole traditions and community. But for black voters, it became a place of opportunity...and defiance.
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