Historical marker application submitted for Albany Civil Rights location

The application for a historical marker at the site of the old jail in Albany was recently submitted. / Mary Green

It’s been half a century since Albany’s old city hall and jail stood on Pine Avenue after being demolished in the late 1960s.

But plans to put a historical marker at that location might soon bring its story back to life — and back to the minds of Southwest Georgians.

“It will give the narrative,” Rev. Henry Mathis said of the marker. “It will give the write-up and the history of what actually transpired.”

This has been a goal of Mathis’ for months, but he’s now hoping to see more than a marker on Pine Avenue.

New ideas include a podium with photos of the jail and Freedom Alley, where protestors who marched from Shiloh Baptist Church kneeled, prayed, were arrested before being booked at the old jail or in other nearby counties. Mathis said he’d also like to extend the footprints marking the march from Shiloh all the way to the former location of Freedom Alley.

According to the site’s application for a Georgia historic marker, which was submitted prior to the Sept. 1 due date, about 1,500 protestors were arrested and jailed during the Albany Movement of the Civil Rights Movement, from 1961 to 1963.

To mark what they did, Mathis also had to find sponsors, which include the Albany Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) and the Albany-Dougherty Historic Preservation Commission.

“We don’t want their marching, their jailing, their booking to be in vain,” ACRI Executive Director W. Frank Wilson said.

They’re currently raising money to pay for the marker and its installation, if they’re approved by the station review board. Mathis said their application should meet the board’s qualifying standards.

“This story not only is a local story. It’s a statewide story, it’s a national story, and it’s a worldwide story,” he said, adding that the nonviolent tactics used in Albany were the same used by Mahatma Gandhi in India.

They’ll find out in October if that spot will be the new site to mark what happened in the past.

“We know the beginning with Shiloh, but we want to show, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story,” Wilson said.

If you want to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Freedom Alley fundraiser, you can send a check with the “Freedom Alley Historical Marker” in the subject line to the Albany Civil Rights Institute, P.O. Box 6036, Albany, GA 31706.

This isn't the only site in Albany that recently submitted an application for a historical marker. Stay tuned as FOX 31 brings you the story Thursday of how one group is hoping to honor a man whose work extends from the Good Life City all the way to the White House.

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