The Students of the Atlanta Student Movement and Rich’s Sit-ins

One of the things that I noticed when I was searching the internet for information about the Atlanta Sit-ins is that there are almost no names of the actual people that participated in the Atlanta Student Movement and the Atlanta Rich’s Sit-ins. It is interesting because when you look up some of the other sit-ins that happened in other cities, there are plenty of student participants named. I am honestly curious why the Atlanta student participants are not named in the online encyclopedias, articles, and whatnot. In my class, we came across two names and they stood out to me, so I decided to do some research on them since that is what I said that I wanted to do in my other post.

For this blog, I am going to focus on bringing the students of the Atlanta Student Movement to the front since they were the ones that were actually out there getting it all done. I am going to focus this blog specifically on the Clark College, now known as Clark Atlanta University, student advocates Lydia Tucker Arnold and Carolyn Long Banks. They both participated in the meetings, the sit-ins, and they were both arrested. They did not know it at the time, but they were making history in Atlanta. From their humble beginnings as student advocates and concerned citizens, they would both also become great leaders in the Atlanta community.

Lydia Tucker Arnold, known as Lydia Tucker at the time, was the secretary of student government at Clark College. During her senior year at Clark in February 1960, Tucker Arnold was invited to a meeting of student government officers of the Atlanta University Center institutions where the intentions of fellow student activist Lonnie King were discussed. According to Tucker Arnold in a video, this is where the idea of the Atlanta Student Movement was introduced to the people in attendance. Tucker Arnold thought that Lonnie King’s idea was “absolutely crazy” but as he kept talking, she sparked an interest in it all because she “knew of the evilness that was going on at that time…but not being able to sit at a lunch counter because your skin is black is just not right, does not make sense, so I wanted to be a part of eradicating that kind of foolishness.” According to Tucker Arnold in the same video, the main goal of the Atlanta Student Movement was to “destroy segregation in the city of Atlanta” with regards to being able to sit at the lunch counters and enter establishments through the front door. Tucker Arnold was also a part of a boycott where “we asked everyone to send their credit cards in to us and don’t shop…” As an officer, she was a founding member of the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights. In March 1960, she and other students participated in sit-ins. After participating in three sit-ins, she was arrested and stayed in jail for two weeks. She eventually served on Atlanta’s city council.

Carolyn Long Banks, known as Carolyn Long at the time, was also a student at Clark College. She also served on the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights. During the time of the sit-ins, some of the meetings occurred in the Long family home. She was one of the students that participated in the Rich’s sit-ins. Long participated by sitting-in at “the hotsy-totsy restaurant,” the Magnolia Tea Room on the second floor of Rich’s. She sat with the publisher of the Atlanta Daily World. According to Long Banks, “I was so nervous; we ate our food and left. Then I was arrested.” Long was apparently subsequently arrested four times. After attending graduate school in Hawaii, she returned to Atlanta in 1969 and, according to Ebony magazine in August 1989, was surprised to see Rich’s desegregated with black employees working the hat counter. Carolyn Long Banks is also known for being the first black woman to serve on Atlanta’s city council.

I think that it is really important to get the names of these Atlanta Student Movement participants out there. It does not make sense that the students of all of the other student movements in other cities got such notoriety and the Atlanta students of the Movement did not become as well known. These two ladies did just as much as some of the students in the other Student Movements, so there needs to be more out there about their accomplishments. The members of the Atlanta Student Movement are important to Atlanta history.

I hope you enjoyed my blog! I hope I was able to present these two amazing ladies, Lydia Tucker Arnold and Carolyn Long Banks in the best way possible. These ladies truly are inspirations for students with their dedication to their cause. Do you know anything else about Lydia Tucker Arnold or Carolyn Long Banks? If so, let me know! Feel free to leave me a comment in the comment section of this blog. If you have any feedback, be sure to check out my contact page. Thank you for reading!

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