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GSA plaque to mark rise of Atlanta Student Movement, King’s 1st arrest

Marking the date when local college students rose up against discrimination, and the first time Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested, the U.S. General Services Administration will unveil a plaque commemorating the Atlanta Student Movement’s Oct. 19, 1960 protest to desegregate the Rich’s Department Store in downtown Atlanta.

The GSA will mark the occasion during a 10 a.m. ceremony Wednesday at what is now the site of the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center.

Lonnie King, the founding president of the Atlanta Student Movement, is expected to be on hand for the unveiling.

“It gives us a great sense of pride to honor those who helped make democracy a reality for all,” said GSA Administrator Denise Turner-Roth. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the heroes of the Atlanta Student Movement helped pave the way for the America we know and appreciate today.”

The GSA, which is the real estate and procurement arm of the federal government, regularly installs interpretive plaques for artwork within courthouses and federal buildings around the country as part of the agency’s Fine Arts Program.

The “Right to Sit” interpretive plaque is designed to commemorate the historic connection between the events surrounding the Atlanta Student Movement and the Rich’s Department Store in October 1960.

The Oct. 19 protest at Rich’s marked Martin Luther King Jr.’s first arrest for an act of civil disobedience.

“This plaque commemorates an important moment in history when young men and women chose to defy the odds and fight for what is right,” said Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell. “Their actions opened new doors for all of us in Atlanta and nationwide. We must never forget that we stand on the shoulders of giants.”

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