Posted in Sit Ins

Rich’s Department Store Sit Ins in 1960

What do you think of when you think of Little Five Points in Atlanta, Ga? Most people would say they think of the Vortex, or all of the different vintage clothing stores and bars. Little Five Points is actually a historical landmark for the 1960 non-violent sit in in the Magnolia Room in Rich’s Department Store. Little Five Points needs to be known not only as a hip place to hang out but also as a historical landmark.

In New Georgia Encyclopedia , Morris Rich in 1867 borrowed $500 from his brother to open a dry goods store in Atlanta. Later on during the time of the Civil Rights Movement, Rich’s got the reputation for being a more “tolerant” store towards African American customers. Even though they were more “tolerant” towards African American costumers they still refused to serve them at the Magnolia Room, which was a restaurant inside Rich’s. This caused Rich’s to be boycotted earlier on during the Civil Rights Movement.

This is what Little Five Points looked like during the 1960s:

Rich's Department Store in 1900s
Rich’s Department Store Street View

This is what Little Five Points looks like today:

Welcome sign to Little Five Points
Welcome sign to Little Five Points

I personally had no clue that this even happened in our hometown of Atlanta. I spent the majority of my educational career in Georgia, and not once was this mentioned in any of the classes. One of the classes in middle school that was required was a Georgia Studies course. They mentioned sit ins and the Civil Right Movement, but nothing about the sit ins that happened at Rich’s.

While conducting research for this blog, only one out of four websites mentioned the sit ins at Rich’s. Is this because at the time they did not want to be associated with Civil Rights? I believe there needs to be more recognition of the sit ins role in history and how it effected the Civil Rights Movement.

Here is a short clip depicting parts of  what happened during the Civil Rights Movement:

This clip brought up key events that happened during this era. Martin Luther King was asked by the four college students leading the sit ins to join them for that day. Martin knew that if he were to go, he would be held responsible for his actions. Martin was part of the 51 people arrested on the day of the sit ins. According to the video, only 16 of the 51 were dismissed. Being that he was the most recognizable of the group, Martin was charged because the authorities claimed that he violated his term of probation. He was in jail for six months. John F. Kennedy helped secure his release which then helped promote himself in the election, thus effecting more U.S. history. Do you think John F. Kennedy would of won the election without the support of the African American community?

Rich’s Department Store has already been forgotten and is actually a Macy’s Department Store with no historical ties to this event. In this article, Rich’s Department Store closed in 1991 and the Pink Pig moved into the Festival of Trees to help benefit Eggleston Hospital on Macy’s behalf. The Pink Pig was too expensive to keep running so it closed in 1995, but reopened in 2003.

Macy's Pink Pig ride
Macy’s Pink Pig

Tickets to ride the Pink Pig are sold still today at Lenox Square Mall. Why is it that we preserved this attraction for Rich’s, instead of preserving the historical significance of the sit in that was in the exact same building?

Obviously there is not enough information given to our community about this historical significance that took place right in our own home state. Hopefully one day more people will be informed about what happened in what is now Little Five Points. Please feel free to leave comments and feedback about the subject matter.

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Author:

I am a senior at Kennesaw State University and I am a Communication Major.

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