Ralph Mark Gilbert

Our museum is named after Gilbert, a courageous figure that built the foundations of the Civil Rights Movement here in Savannah and throughout the Deep South. Learn more about his many accomplishments here.


The excerpt on this page marks the decision by the Chatham County Commission to name this museum in honor of Dr. Ralph Mark Gilbert.

His life's work left a great impact on Savannah and the greater Civil Rights movement. He accomplished pioneering feats including pushing for the elimination of the white-only primary and for the hiring of some of the first Black police officers in the Deep South. His leadership helped to lay the foundation of the Savannah civil rights movement and is an inspiration to all.

Museum Named for Dr. R. M. Gilbert

Dr. Gilbert, who died in 1956, was the father of the present day civil rights movement in Savannah, ASALH president W.W. Law said. Honoring this great man is long overdue.

He came to Savannah in 1939 to pastor historic First African Baptist Church on Franklin Square. He reorganized the Savannah NAACP and served as president from 1942 to 1950, leading the fight to end the white only Democratic primary. His leadership among other things gave Savannah the first black policemen in the deep South. He organized here the largest NAACP youth council in the nation in 1942, also. He organized and was the first president (1942-1948) of the Georgia State Conference NAACP Branches.

Dr. Gilbert has been described as "a great gospel preacher, peerless orator, religious dramatist, and dauntless leader of all causes and forces which serve an aggrandized mankind."