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Phase Three - Direct Action & Desegregation - 1964

January 13: Mardon Walker, a white exchange student at Spelman was arrested at a Krystal restaurant downtown. A jury convicted Mardon and Judge Durwood Pye sentenced her to the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor offense -- six months in jail, twelve months on the public works and a $1,000 fine. Mardon appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court which upheld her conviction. She then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which on May 24, 1965, in a 5-4 vote, reversed the Georgia Supreme Court's decision.

After the assassination of President John Kennedy, President Lyndon Johnson announces plans for the "Great Society," which includes federal programs for a "war on poverty." Atlanta is one of the first cities to establish an anti-poverty program.

Student activists from Atlanta participate in the Mississippi Freedom Summer, which brings hundreds of white and black college students to the South to help with voter registration and community development.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed. It makes racial discrimination in public places, such as theaters, restaurants and hotels, illegal. It also requires employers to provide equal employment opportunities. Projects involving federal funds could lose their support if there is evidence of discrimination based on color, race, or national origin. In terms of ensuring African American voting rights, the Civil Rights Act prohibits literacy tests and other illegitimate attempts to keep blacks from voting.

At the age of 36, Martin Luther King, Jr. is the first African American and the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.