South Georgians reflect on Civil Rights Movement -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgians reflect on Civil Rights Movement

July 3, 2005

Tifton-- The 4th of July weekend marks the 41st anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Act led the way to opening many doors that were closed for African-Americans. the fight began with citizens all over the United States, some of them right here in South Georgia.

They say there's a hero in every city, heroes that paved the way. Samuel Brown fought hard decades ago to bring equality to Tift County. "It was ruled by the President that hey, everybody is equal," says Brown. It was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 signed in July by President Lyndon Johnson. It sought to end racial discrimination in public places. Brown along with the NAACP played a big part.

"We were about 650 strong, around 300 in the youth chapter and about 350 in the adult chapter and we integrated several small places, the skating rink being one," says Brown. The Act also integrated some Tift County High Schools.

"The first time I stepped through those doors was forty years ago, August 30th," says Nita Ingram-Ludden referring to the old Tift County High School. Nita Ingram-Ludden was one of three 17-year-old students who chose to be the first to integrate Tift County High School.

"We were told by the board of education that if we didn't make it, we could not go back to Wilson High School," says Ludden. So she pushed forward, although it wasn't easy. "It was a struggle. I didn't think I was going to make it that year but I knew I had no other place to go," says Ludden. She also knew that she had to be an example for others.

"And I'm not sorry. I am not sorry," says Ludden.

For that she's being honored for her strength along with other South Georgians who made sacrifices during the civil rights movement. It's also giving future leaders a chance to reflect. "I always grew up with those people in my life and just to see the contributions that my father did along with the other honorees is just phenomenal," says Solomon Nixon, Jr.

His father Solomon Nixon Sr. along with his grandfather helped lead the community through the movement. "I'm just very proud to bear his name and be able to try and participate and uplift the community," says Nixon.

Honorees are proud for a chance to look back. "I just thank God and look where he's brought me from," says Ludden. They look forward to what's to come. "If I had it to do again, I would do it all again," says Brown.

Because 41 years later the fight was well worth it.

Nita Ingram-Ludden also received proclamations from Governor Perdue and the Mayor of Tifton for her role in integrating Tift County Schools. The Civil Rights Act was signed by President Johnson on July 2nd.