ACRI plans weeklong celebration

ALBANY, Ga. — Three historians from New York and Texas will share their expertise with Southwest Georgians as the Albany Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) kicks off the 50th Anniversary of the Albany Movement at 7 p.m. Saturday at the ACRI.

Professor Hasia Diner of New York University will discuss the relations between Jewish Americans and African Americans during the civil rights movement. The next night at 7:30, professors Emilye Crosby (State University of New York at Geneseo) and Todd Moye (University of North Texas) will discuss what historians have gotten wrong about the Albany Movement and how local studies can get the stories straight.

Later the next week, five Albany Movement leaders and participants — Horace C. Boyd, Charles M. Sherrod, Danny Lyon, William G. Anderson, and Rutha Mae Harris — will discuss their roles in the movement when the Albany Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Albany Movement beginning the next week.

On Monday, Nov. 14, Boyd and Sherrod will examine the role of the church in the Southwest Georgia Movement. The following night, Danny Lyon will discuss his role as a civil rights photographer. On Thursday, Nov. 17, Anderson, the first president of the Albany Movement, will reflect on the movement’s 50th anniversary.

Concluding the weeklong celebration on Friday evening, Nov. 18, Rutha Harris will lead the ACRI Freedom Singers in a discussion and performance celebrating the important role of music in the civil rights movement in Southwest Georgia.

The role of the church was central to the civil rights movement. It is no coincidence that the Albany Civil Rights Institute’s museum began in Old Mt. Zion Church and that the church is the most significant artifact in the museum’s collection.

Boyd was pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, across the street from Old Mt. Zion, in 1961. Fifty years later, he remains the leader of that congregation. He was one of the first pastors to open his church’s door to the movement.

Sherrod was one of the first Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) field workers to organize in southwest Georgia in the fall of that year. Both ministers came to the civil rights movement by different paths and played different roles in Albany.

Last week the Albany Civil Rights Institute opened its photographic exhibition, “Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement: The Photography of Danny Lyon,” curated by Holly Stiegel.

Lyon will discuss his experiences as a photographer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Following his presentation, Lyon will lead a gallery tour of the exhibition and have a book signing of his lavishly illustrated photographic history, “Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement.”

The evening will conclude with a reception sponsored by Helen Young.

Thursday, Nov. 17, is the 50th anniversary of the organization of the Albany Movement in the home of dentist E.D. Hamilton. That evening the new organization elected osteopath Anderson to serve as first president of the Albany Movement.

The presentations by movement participants Boyd, Sherrod, Lyon, Anderson, and Harris will be held at 7:30 p.m. at ACRI, 326 Whitney Avenue, Albany. They are free and open to the public.