Home History The woman who desegregated Atlanta’s library system

The woman who desegregated Atlanta’s library system

West Hunter Branch

Atlanta’s first library opened in 1902, but it wasn’t until 1921 that African Americans had library access. And it wasn’t until decades later that they had access to the same branches as whites.

Libraries remained segregated until 1959, when Irene Jackson – Mayor Maynard Jackson’s mother – requested a Central Library card. At the time, African Americans were only allowed in the library’s basement. When Jackson made it known she would take her request to court, she encountered racist threats and had raw eggs thrown at her.

The library board eventually voted in her favor, granting African Americans equal library use privileges.

Caroline Parsley, The 100 Companies

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