As Black History Month continues, Dr. Clarissa Myrick-Harris will deliver a presentation titled "Movement: Atlanta's Journey to Leadership in the Quest for Civil and Human Rights" for the Bartow History Museum. Set for Feb. 25, the online lecture will take place via Zoom at 7 p.m.
“In my discussion about the origins of the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta, I begin in the 1880s with the 1881 Washerwomen's Strike in Atlanta, one of most successful direct action protests led by African Americans in the late 19th century,” Myrick-Harris said. “It is important to note that this late 19th century strike also included white washermen among the protesters.
“African Americans organized to protest racially motivated lynching of black people in the late 19th century as well. And by the early 20th century, Atlanta had become an incubator for black leadership and organizations that provided direction and referents for the national efforts to end racial inequality and social justice throughout the first half of the 20th century. The legacy of those individuals and organizations informs local and national efforts today.”
Myrick-Harris also will highlight various black women leaders based in Atlanta during the Civil Rights Movement, such as Ruby Blackburn.
“Ruby Blackburn, a hairdresser and former domestic worker, used her grassroots community organizing style to rally hundreds of working class and middle class black women and men to register to vote and push for social change during the 1946 mass campaign,” she said. “Beyond that work, she focused on improving the quality of life for African Americans, especially women.”
Along with being a professor of Africana Studies, Myrick-Harris also chairs the Humanities Division at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
“While I was pulling together some research connected to topics in our archive, I came across an article written by Dr. Myrick-Harris about the 1880 Civil Rights Movement in Georgia,” said Joshua Graham, manager of programs for Bartow History Museum. “It was really a fascinating paper, and from how well it was written I knew Dr. Myrick-Harris was talented when it came to really laying out aspects of history here in northwest Georgia that people may not be aware of. Every year Bartow County has closer and closer ties to the metro Atlanta area, so I thought this topic would be really interesting for our residents.”
Formed in 1987, BHM’s gift shop, multi-purpose room, and permanent and temporary exhibits are housed in the 1869 Courthouse — 4 E. Church St., under the Church Street bridge in Cartersville. Divided into six galleries, the permanent exhibits include “A Sense of Place,” “Bartow Beginnings,” “Community Champions,” “People at Work,” “The Coming War” and “Toward New Horizons.”
Open to the public, BHM is encouraging patrons to purchase online tickets before touring the museum. Myrick-Harris’ presentation will be Bartow History Museum’s second virtual lecture.
“Just because circumstances have changed due to COVID didn’t mean that we felt any less responsible to fulfill our mission at the Bartow History Museum of educating our community,” Graham said. “Because of the different nature of online lectures, we really wanted to focus on topics where attendees could really see how history was relevant in our day-to-day lives.
“Last month, we had a lecture by Matthew Gramling entitled ‘Pox and Pig Iron’ that talked about the lessons from the 1849 smallpox epidemic that hit the region, including Bartow County. We still have tickets to the recording of that lecture available and it is offered for free for museum members on our website. I think Dr. Myrick-Harris’s lecture will be just as interesting and relevant.”
Feb. 25’s online lecture will be free for BHM members and cost $6.50 for nonmembers. Tickets can be purchased at www.BartowHistoryMuseum.org.
“I want those who attend my session — and participate through Q&A — to leave with a sense of context and a clearer understanding of the harsh realities of life for black people living in the segregated society of Atlanta beginning in the late 19th century to help them understand the manifestations of systemic racism and social injustice that persist in society today,” Myrick-Harris said. “I want those who hear my presentation to realize that the leaders and foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement over time are not only protesters but people whose efforts are ultimately meant to make life better and just for everyone, not just a privileged few.”