Editor’s note: This is the eighth part of a series examining what life was like for African-Americans in Liberty County before and during the civil rights movement.
The Civil Rights movement came to Liberty County as it did elsewhere in the South.
“I had read about civil rights and what was happening all around the South in the Savannah Tribune as well as saw it on my neighbors’ little small black and white television,” Roberts recalled. “We would sit and watch the violence and learn about what was happening in Albany, Selma, Savannah, Atlanta, Mississippi, and other places. Of course, we heard it on the radio, too. And people were talking about the injustice and inequality because it was everywhere.”
Because of Dorchester and local civil rights leaders, there also was a movement to effect change getting under way in Liberty County.
“There were upstanding community leaders who were participating in the meetings at Dorchester Academy Improvement Association,” Roberts said. “You know Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others from around the country were working with local community people. I remember Booker T. Burley, Sr., Henry Relaford, Mrs. Mattie Hicks who attended the Citizenship Education Prpgram meetings at Dorchester Academy along with locals including Ralph Quarterman and Rev. Charles Maxell. The churches were very important places because these community leaders would return to their respective neighborhood churches and disseminate information regarding direct action and civil disobedience. They were learning and seeing what was happening and they began implementing it."
As a high school student, Roberts joined the direct action campaigns to end segregation and discrimination in Hinesville.
"We started boycotting in Hinesville in the library," he said. "We were taught how to conduct ourselves, how not to engage anyone, and what to do in certain circumstances. At first, we were not to go inside the stores, but later we went inside the stores that were treating black unequally. One day we walked down Main Street. There was Shave’s Five and Dime, Heritage Bank, Dykes Supermarket, Friendly Grocery Store. There was one black lady at the library and she was the cleaning person."
"White people didn’t like it. I remember one white guy who was walking on the other side of the street when we were boycotting and he threw a glass bottle at a black girl who was with us and it hit her on the head. Blood was everywhere. She was taken to the hospital."
Glass-Hill is a scholar and director of the the Susie King Taylor Women’s Institute and Ecology Center in Midway,