By Henry Bryant
Dr. Cliff Kuhn is well known for his association with Atlanta and Civil Rights history having written several books on the subject. He has also played a leading role in the field of oral history. On July 16th he will bring his knowledge and skill to an interview with two of the “Atlanta Nine” who were the first to integrate schools in Georgia. These two women, Martha Holmes-Jackson and Rosalyn Walton-Lees are heroes who were brave and selfless in carrying out their mission to move the cause of civil rights and equality in education forward. In 1962 they left safe schools where their positions were known for an uncertain future in a turbulent time. They were chosen to integrate Murphy High School in the Kirkwood/ East Atlanta neighborhoods – one of four Atlanta Public Schools chosen to spotlight integration in the capital city of the New South. Ms. Holmes-Jackson and Ms. Walton-Lees were also hand picked for the task which city leaders hoped would show a contrast to other cities that had more confrontational experiences. The hope was great among both races, but the outcome prospects were unknown because of strong feelings against integration.
Murphy High School sits on ground where the 1864 Battle of Atlanta began and from which Confederate General W.H.T. Walker was shot and killed in the early moments of the Battle. This Civil War to Civil Rights program is part of the annual BATL event which commemorates the historic Civil War conflict.