Who here remembers the Albany Movement? Anyone? Perhaps you have heard of Montgomery? Rosa Parks, check. Selma? Voting Rights Act, check. Mississippi (Goddamn!)? The Philadelphia murders, check. But not Albany?
A lot of SNCC volunteers went to Albany in the early 1960s after other successful campaigns in Rock Hill (Jail, No Bail) and other southern towns. At first, SNCC and other protesters made some headway in challenging the entrenched segregation of the town. So much so that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King brought his SCLC entourage to town, and thereby the media. Unfortunately by then the local Police Chief, Laurie Pritchard, had figured out that if the media didn't cover a protest, it didn't exist. So Pritchard told his officers to not make arrests, challenge the protesters, etc., while Dr. King was in town. Once the media got bored and left, so did Dr. King. Albany was on its own.
But SNCC stayed to organize the community to demand their civil rights. One organizer, Charles Sherrod, continued his work in Albany and later married a young woman by the name of Shirley.
Now close to fifty years later, we have another influential leader, President Obama, who unlike Dr. King, does not want the spotlight on race, and has therefore turned away the media. Will we ever get the Albany movement right? Will we ever get to the mountaintop?