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Phase One - Gradualism and Negotiation - 1940

Although African Americans account for 30 percent of the population of Atlanta, less than five percent are registered to vote. Voter apathy is caused by the poll tax, "whites only" primaries, and the fear of racial violence against African Americans.

Benjamin Mays comes to Atlanta as the new president of Morehouse College (1940-1967). During his tenure, he becomes known as the "schoolmaster of the civil rights movement" because he helps to mold the intellect and character of many of the students destined to be leaders in the fight for social change, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Julian Bond.

A citywide bond is defeated by African American voters because only $100,000 of the $1.8 million proposed would go to black schools.