Beginning of The Civil Rights Movement

SS8H10 The student will evaluate key post-World War II developments of Georgia from 1945 to 1970. After World War II ended Georgia experienced a huge population and industrialization boom. Georgia transformed from a rural to an urban state as the changes in farm technology ended the need for a large agricultural work force. Many World War II veterans came home, went to college with the help of the G.I. Bill, and began moving to suburban neighborhoods. During this time period, Atlanta became a large enough city to field three major league sports teams.

By studying this standard students should be able to analyze the impact that the transformation of agriculture had on Georgia’s growth, explain how the growth of Atlanta contributed to the growth of Georgia, and describe the efforts of three men who are given credit for helping Georgia develop from a poor agricultural based state to one that is economically diverse.

a. Analyze the impact of the transformation of agriculture on Georgia’s growth.

The Transformation of Agriculture

Several factors caused Georgia’s population to shift from rural to urban areas. These factors included the destruction of the cotton crop by the boll weevil, the great migration of African-Americans to northern cities, the movement of both blacks and whites to Georgia’s industrial centers and factories during both World Wars, and the AAA’s payments to farmers to stop them from growing crops during the Great Depression.

However, another major factor occurred after World War II. A major technological change in agricultural equipment further lessened the need for large numbers of agricultural workers. Some of the more important technological changes were larger tractors, reapers, and other machinery, combined with better fertilizers that made it easier to grow and process crops with much less man power.

Though the rural population in Georgia has decreased from almost 85% in 1900 to less than 25% today, according tothe New Georgia Encyclopedia, farming is still the most important part of Georgia’s economy, bringing in $56 billion a year to the state.

b. Explain how the development of Atlanta, including the roles of mayors William B. Hartsfield and Ivan Allen, Jr., and major league sports, contributed to the growth of Georgia.

Atlanta (already a major rail hub) became a major air and trucking hub after World War II. In turn, starting with the Bell Aircraft Company, other major businesses moved into the city during after the war. Though still racially segregated in the 1950s and 1960s, Atlanta Mayors William B. Hartsfieldand Ivan Allen, Jr., along with important business leaders such as Coke Chairman Robert Woodruff, began to promote Atlanta’s “city too busy to hate” image and African-Americans began to gain civil rights in the city. With the city’s development, sports teams came to Atlanta making it a “major league” city. With Atlanta’s lead, Georgia has grown to become the 9thmost populated state in the nation, and Atlanta has become one of the most important cities in the Southeast.

William B. Hartsfield

William B. Hartsfield (1890-1971) is primarily known for two things. The first was his active support in bringing air transportation to the state. The second was his coinage of the phrase often used to describe Atlanta’s racial tolerance: “the city too busy to hate.” Nevertheless, Hartsfield, who never graduated from high school or college, was significant for other reasons. Primarily he was Atlanta’s longest serving mayor (1937-1941; 1942-1961), and his support of civil rights kept Atlanta from the racial violence that engulfed many other southern cities. Hartsfield was born in Atlanta and attended the city’s public schools. Though never finishing high school, as a young man Hartsfield found work in a law firm and spent his nights studying for the bar exam. After being admitted into the bar he opened his own law firm in 1921. In 1922, Hartsfield began his political career when he was elected to the Atlanta city council. As a member of the council, Hartsfield commenced his lifelong support of aviation and was instrumental in opening Atlanta’s first airport in 1925. In 1937, Hartsfield became mayor of Atlanta. In his first term he did many things to help the city during the depression, including convincing Robert Woodruff, the president of the Coca-Cola company, to finance the city’s 1936 December payroll. Though Hartsfield lost the 1940 election he was reelected in 1942 when Atlanta mayor Robert Le Craw left to fight in World War II. Hartsfield remained in the mayor’s office for almost 20 years. During his second tenure as mayor, Hartsfield was instrumental in the calm integration of Atlanta’s public schools, as well as, tripling Atlanta’s size by annexing several square miles, overseeing the building of many public parks, and expanding Atlanta’s expressway system. Hartsfield retired from public office in 1961. After his death in 1971 Atlanta named its airport Hartsfield International in his honor.

Ivan Allen Jr

As mayor of Atlanta, Ivan Allen (1911-2003) continued William B. Hartsfield’s aggressive development policies. However, he was also more adamant in the fight for civil rights as well. For example, on Allen’s first day as mayor he had all of the white and “colored” signs removed from city hall and desegregated the building’s cafeteria. Allan was the son of business leader Ivan Allen, Sr. Born in Atlanta, Allen graduated from Georgia Tech and worked in his father’s office products company. From 1942-1945 he served in World War II, and after the war became president of his father’s company in 1946. As a leading figure in Atlanta for many years after World War II, Allen decided to run for mayor in 1961. A proponent for civil rights, Allen worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Atlanta’s business leaders to secure the city’s smooth transition into desegregation. Allen also continued to bring growth to the city. He was instrumental in the building of Interstate 285, was an early advocate of the M.A.R.T.A. commuter rail line, and was responsible for 55 new building projects during his tenure as mayor. Allen may be best known for his support of bringing major league sports teams to the city. He convinced Atlantans to financially support the construction of major league stadiums and brokered the deals to bring the Braves and Hawks to Atlanta. He also persuaded the NFL to start a new franchise in the city: the Atlanta Falcons. Allan retired from politics in 1970.

Atlanta’s Major League Sports Teams: Though not always successful, the Atlanta Braves were the only team in the city’s history to win a major championship (though it should be noted that the Atlanta Chiefs soccer team won the NASL title in 1968). Atlanta’s sports teams have brought thousands of jobs to the state and millions of dollars into the economy. They also gave Atlanta an aura of being a “Major League City” and their facilities helped to bring the 1996 Olympic games. The first team to come to the city was the Atlanta Braves in 1966. They were followed in the same year by the Falcons, and in 1968 by the Hawks. While these sports teams have been mainstays since their arrival, Atlanta has been the home of many other professional sports teams including men’s hockey, arena league football, and women’s soccer and basketball. Note:The Atlanta Braves are often thought of as the oldest professional sports team in the United States because they can trace their origins back to the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings.Though the Braves were one of the most successful baseball teams in the 1990s, they were the second team in Major League Baseball history to lose 10,000 games.

c. Discuss the impact of Ellis Arnall.

Ellis Arnall

As Governor, Ellis Arnall (1907-1992) made sweeping changes that modernized Georgia, and for a time, made it the most forward thinking and progressive of the southern states in terms of racial relations. However, after Arnall’s term ended, Georgia’s voters elected several segregationist governors for many more years.

Arnall was born in Newnan, Georgia and received alaw degree from the University of Georgia in 1931. Arnall’s career in politics began with his 1932 election to the Georgia General Assembly. Six years later he was appointed as the nation’s youngest attorney general at 31 years of age. In 1942, he defeated Eugene Talmadge, for governor. Arnall’s victory was largely due to the state’s university system losing its accreditation because of Talmadge’s interference (see Teacher Note SS8H9).As governor, Arnall is credited for restoring accreditation to the state’s institutions of higher learning, abolishing the poll tax, lowering the voting age, and establishing a teacher’s retirement system. However, Arnall lost support based on his support of liberal causes and leaders. One example was his acceptance of theSupreme Courts rulings against the white primary. He also lost popularity when he wrote two books that many southerners felt disparaged the South. Due to Georgia law, Arnall could not run for another term in 1947. He played a key role in the “three governor’s controversy” by refusing to give up the governor’s office until the issue was worked out (see Teacher Note SS8H11). Though a strong candidate for Governor in 1966, Arnall lost to segregationist Lester Maddox. He never ran for office again. After this election, Arnall was a successful business man and lawyer until his death.