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Negro Demonstrators and KKK Clash in Atlanta

Jan. 26, 1964 - Negro demonstrators and Ku Klux Klansmen clashed briefly in Atlanta, Ga., last night at a motel near a restaurant where a United Nations human rights panel had just dined. The police quickly broke up fistfights that erupted when a line of robed and hooded Klansmen filed between ranks of demonstrators at the Downtown Motel on West Peachtree St. There were no arrests reported.

Some 200 demonstrators, including a few whites, had marched to the motel shortly after 9:30 p.m., after having traded taunts for three hours with the Klansmen at a downtown intersection. The confrontation at the motel was kept under control by 45 policemen. The human rights panel had dined with Mayor Ivan Allen Jr., after a day of studying the city’s race relations. At the downtown intersection earlier, police had maintained order among the demonstrators and Klansmen for several hours whenever a clash threatened. “The Old K.K.K. ain’t what it used to be,” chanted the integrationist demonstrators as white-robed Klansmen passed through their ranks. “K.K.K. must go!” others shouted.

Lester Maddox, an Atlanta restaurant operator who is a White Citizens’ Council leader and was an unsuccessful segregationist candidate for lieutenant governor, harangued the demonstrators. Then he walked across the street and sought to persuade a group of Klansmen to move in on the Negroes. Four Klansmen in white crash helmets scowled at the Negroes from across Forsyth Street.

Dick Gregory, the Chicago comedian, arrived at 6:45 p.m. with James Forman, executive secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. As a wrinkled old Klansman on a crutch passed Mr. Gregory, the comedian leaned down toward his face and asked, “Is that you, Lord?”


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