The Business Elite: A Forgotten Force in the Civil Rights Movement, Birmingham & Atlanta, 1960-1963
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This is a comparative paper focusing on the differences between Atlanta and Birmingham during the Civil Rights Movement. It highlights the important steps the business communities took, and how they varied in each city. It focuses on three major events: the Freedom Rides, school integration, and the desegregation of downtown businesses. In Atlanta, the business community was acting on a prior legacy of moderation. For decades, political and business leaders worked together to promote Atlanta as a “city too busy to hate.” In comparison, Birmingham was a city that had no moderate influence, and whose business leaders did not act until violence occurred. This was a trend that repeated itself throughout the years of the Civil Rights Movement. This paper focuses on the importance of the business community and the impact these leaders had on the course of the Civil Rights Movement.