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Earl T. Shinhoster came of age as a teen in Savannah’s 1960s Civil Rights Movement and left a legacy across two continents.
As a teen, Shinhoster was a leader in the civil rights movement in Savannah. He became involved in the NAACP Youth Council in 1963 as he followed his older brother George into the movement. At 14, he protested to get lights at a playground and summer job opportunities for young people. Conditions at schools, playgrounds and other facilities in black neighborhoods were historically worse than infrastructure used by whites.
Shinhoster also helped with voter registration efforts and attended the NAACP’s Mass Meetings on Sundays. He was elected president of Savannah’s NAACP Youth Council when he was 16. He was on the debate team in high school and then at Morehouse College, where he earned a political science degree. He studied law at Cleveland State University before becoming Director of the Office of Human Affairs on Georgia Governor George Busbee’s staff.
Bloc voting is a political strategy where citizens of a community choose common candidates. In the 1960's, groups like the Political Guidance Committee and the Political Advisory Council gave Savannah's Black community recommendations for who to vote for. Read a newspaper article from our archives that stresses the importance of the bloc vote. The above image shows Democratic party primary candidates for a Savannah election in 1964.
The Political Advisory Council of the Savannah branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recommended political candidates for the Black community to vote for. Read an article from our archives that marks the launch of the council. The above image shows a sample ballot distributed to communities in Savannah by the Political Advisory Council in 1972.
Williams was an important part of the Savannah Civil Rights Movement. He then continued his work with Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Read a newspaper article from our archive describing the call, from Williams, for the community to boycott Savannah stores. This was during the Jim Crow Era of segregation in the South when Blacks could shop in these stores but not be hired to work in them.
In the 1960s, the registration of black voters, in Savannah, was under the leadership of Hosea Williams who headed up the Chatham County Crusade for Voters (CCCV) the political wing of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In the picture, Hosea Williams joins long lines of teens at the voter registration window of the Chatham County Court House on Wright Square.
Sunday Mass Meetings were weekly gatherings at churches throughout the Black community where members shared news, material goods and gospel songs. Read a newspaper article from The Herald, a local Black-owned newspaper, to learn about the important role that Sunday Mass Meetings played in the Savannah Civil Rights Movement.
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.
Take a trip into archives of the Museum and read a newspaper article from Savannah Morning News, written on March 17, 1960. It records the first sit-in or ('sitdown') protest in Savannah.
Savannah Beach Wade – In and Arrests
Summer of 1960
From the Savannah Tribune, August 20, 1960
On Wednesday afternoon, August 17, twelve members of the Youth Council of the Savannah Branch NAACP participated in a “Wade-In” at Savannah Beach.
Eleven of the group were arrested after they entered the water. They were charged with disrobing in public. Their case will be heard Friday at 7 p.m.
David Nichols, 17, of 416 ½ W. Henry Street, was also charged with having an improper state tag and parking on private property. His bond was set at $105 and others at $54.
The other 10 included:
- Marjorie Dalida, 19, of 2229 Weldon Street, a Savannah State College sophomore;
- Charles L. Smart, 26, of 1617 Burrell Street
- Eleanor Mitchell, 22, of 902 West 48th Street
- Carrie Orr, 17, of 521 E. Gwinnett Lane, a senior at Sol C. Johnson High
- James Alexander, 17, of 520 E. Hall Lane, due to be a freshman at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, this fall
- Judson Brown, 21, of 260 Eve Street
- Amos C. Brown, 19, a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta
- Benjamin Clark, 17, 515 East Liberty Lane, a Sol C. Johnson High, junior
- Annie Mustifpher, 17 of 533 West Harris Street, a Beach High junior
- Caroline Nelson, 17 of 512 ½ West Anderson Street
Law devoted himself to the fight for equality in Savannah for more than half a century. Read his powerful introduction to a collection of Freedom Songs to learn more about the founder of this museum and his passion for social justice. In the picture, Westley Wallace Law, gives a speech at a Savannah church during the Civil Rights Movement. Edna Jackson, seated on the far left, was active in the Civil Rights Movement. Later she served on the Savannah City Council, then went on to become Savannah’s Mayor from 2012 to 2016.