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The River Valley Regional Commision MLK Jr. Advisory Council

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The Sumter County Board of Commissioners and the Georgia Historical Society dedicated a marker on April 11,2015
commemorating Sumter County’s role in the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for protesting racial segregation in Albany on December 16, 1961 and held in the Sumter County Jail. His arrest dovetailed with community and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) efforts to establish the Sumter County Movement. In 1963, 33 adolescent girls were incarcerated in a Civil War-era stockade after their arrest for protesting. Americus garnered further attention when four activists were arrested for insurrection under Georgia’s 1871 seditious conspiracy law, a capital crime. A federal court ruled the law unconstitutional, establishing that peaceful protests could not be punishable by death. The movement’s success helped end segregation in southwest Georgia.
The River Valley Regional Commission was recognized in January during an MLK Jr. ceremony at the capitol for assisting in the formation of the River Valley Martin Luther King Jr. Advisory Council.  The council has been working on two projects: the historical marker recognizing Dr. King’s incarceration in the Sumter County Jail, which was dedicated April 11, and video/audio recordings of people who experienced the Civil Rights Movement. These recordings will be available to local and state archives, libraries, etc. Pictured are Executive Director Patti Cullen and Assistant Director Sarah Walls with Senator Emmanuel Jones, chairman of the state advisory committee. During the ceremony Senator Jones presented a proclamation to the River Valley Martin Luther King Jr. Advisory Council for its outstanding community service that honors Dr. King’s non-violent principles.
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The River Valley Regional Commission has formed a Martin Luther King Jr. Advisory Council and elected Jerry “Pop” Barnes of Columbus to be the chairman, The state Council chairman, Senator Emanuel Jones, attended the regional council’s first meeting in Buena Vista May 22, congratulated the newly-appointed members and thanked them for responding to the challenge of supporting Dr. King’s legacy. Chairman Barnes said many young people view Dr. King as “history only, but his message is timeless and has great relevance to the problems our communities face today.” He said he hoped the River Valley group could work with the State Martin Luther King Jr. Advisory Council to help inspire new generations of Americans to carry on Dr. King’s work. The River Valley council elected Mike Speight of Crisp County as Vice Chair. Other members (pictured above) include Kevin Brown of Marion County, Charles Gibson, Mayor of Lumpkin, Randy Howard of Sumter County, Cicero Latimore of Taylor County, Eddie Daniels, Mayor of Vienna, Clay Jones of Sumter County, and youth members Demarquez Mallard, Clifton Holloman, and Shavon Harris all of Buena Vista. Also included in the photo is John Turner (far right) with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs/State MLK JR., Advisory Council. 

The marker reads: 
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Senator Emmanuel Jones (center) recognized the RVRC during the MLK Jr. Ceremony at the capitol in January. Pictured are Assistant Executive Director Sarah Walls and Executive Director Patti Cullen.

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