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Heart of Atlanta
Heart of Atlanta ›
By Ronnie Greene


Published Jan 2022

The Heart of Atlanta Supreme Court decision stands among the court’s most significant civil rights rulings.

In Atlanta, Georgia, two arch segregationists vowed to flout the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the sweeping slate of civil rights reforms just signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Pickrick restaurant was run by Lester Maddox, soon to be governor of Georgia. The other, the Heart of Atlanta motel, was operated by lawyer Moreton Rolleston Jr.
After the law was signed, a group of ministry students showed up for a plate of skillet-fried chicken at Maddox’s diner. At the Heart of Atlanta, the ministers reserved rooms and walked to the front desk.
Lester Maddox greeted them with a pistol, axe handles, and a mob of White supporters. Moreton Rolleston refused to accept the Black patrons. These confrontations became the centerpiece of the nation's first two legal challenges to the Civil Rights Act.
In gripping detail built from exclusive interviews and original documents, Heart of Atlanta reveals the saga of the case’s rise to the US Supreme Court, which unanimously rejected the segregationists.
Heart of Atlanta restores the legal cases and their heroes to their proper place in history.

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