1940 - 1950

The civil rights timeline of Atlanta in the 1940s details the pivotal early years of the movement. New businesses were established, the community was urged to vote and more. Discover important pieces of Atlanta's amazing history with this civil rights timeline.

February 1947

Now historic Paschal's Restaurant first opens in Atlanta as a small 30 seat cafe. Twelve years later, the restaurant moves to a larger site and becomes the "unofficial headquarters" of the Civil Rights Movement and it's leaders.

Began as a 30-seat luncheonette, Paschal's originally served grab-and-go sandwiches and sodas. With business burgeoning, the owners decided to offer hot lunches, but because the restaurant had to no stove, the meals were prepared in their home and delivered by taxi. Once Paschal's began serving "the best fried chicken in the city" (created with a recipe that remains a secret to this day), the facilities of 837 West Hunter Street were no longer large enough. In 1959 the restaurant moved across the street (now at 830 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive) and would soon become the "unofficial headquarters" for civil rights activists. Leaders including MLK, Jr., Jesse Jackson and Hosea Williams gathered here frequently to discuss their strategies and issues. The famous Paschal Hotel is now a dormitory for Clark Atlanta University, and the restaurant now operates three locations, including the primary building at the corner of Northside Drive and Fair Street, continuing their tradition of serving quality Southern food.

July 1949

The Atlanta Negro Voters League is established to spur the political presence of African-Americans.

After the federal court ruled Georgia's all-white primary elections to be unconstitutional, the number of black voters soared. Until 1946, white candidates were interviewed by black voter representatives, and whomever promised to progress the community was backed – these promises were rarely kept. To educate and register black voters, John Wesley Dobbs and A.T. Walden co-founded the Atlanta Negro Voters League, headquartered at the Butler Street YMCA. By 1949, African-Americans accounted for over 25% of Atlanta's population. With 20,000 registered voters, the black vote carried immense power within the elections, resulting in the South's first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, elected in 1973.

December 4, 1949

The first African-American policemen are hired. They are restricted to African-American neighborhoods, carry no guns, and are barred from arresting white citizens.

With the staggering power of 20,000 voters, the city's first black policemen are hired. Persuaded by John Wesley Dobbs, Mayor William B. Hartsfield integrates the police force with eight African-American police officers. It was a small victory, as the black policemen were not allowed to carry guns, were restricted to "black-only" neighborhoods, and were refused the right to arrest white citizens. In efforts to avoid racial tension, the officers were told to report to the Butler Street YMCA instead of the Decatur Street headquarters. These stipulations resulted in the harassment of officers and continued for years to come.


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