The Atlanta Inquirer family mourns the loss of Dr. Lonnie C. King, Jr. He had been a part of the Atlanta Inquirer family since its early beginnings and had written articles in the newspaper in the 1960s. At the time of his death, he was still a part of the Inquirer’s Advisory Council. Born on August 30, 1936, to Bertha Thrasher and Lonnie King in Arlington, Georgia, Lonnie C. King, Jr. died in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 after a long illness with heart problems, at the age of 82.
As a student at Morehouse College, King and other students from the Historically Black Colleges and Universities rose to fight discrimination and segregation. At that time, some of the leaders of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and some parents urged the collegiates not to bother the status quo and to let other organizations, such as NAACP and SCLC, to fight the battles. Those college leaders and parents wanted to keep the students free of harm and in school.
Lonnie King, Jr. was one of a few Black students that formed Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Atlanta Student Movement.
Lonnie King, Jr., Julian Bond, Charles A. Black, Lydia Arnold, Carolyn Long Banks, Wylma Long Blanding, Alethea Boone, Brenda Hill Cole, Herschelle Sullivan Challenor, Constance Curry, Riggins R. Earl, Samuel Jolley, Valerie Levy, Roslyn Pope, Lottie Watkins, Mary Ann Wilson-Booker and Tomiko Brown-Nagin were among the students that did not fear incarceration, being beaten or killed to organize and lead thousands in protests throughout Atlanta, throughout Georgia and eventually throughout the United States. The students led boycotts and sit-ins that affected businesses in downtown Atlanta. The economic boycotts worked as several businesses, stores and restaurants – known for their discriminatory Jim Crow practices – suffered.
The students and some local leaders encouraged nonviolence as a part of the movement. The early 1960s was a critical time in Civil Rights. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – no relation to the former Lonnie King – later joined the movement of the Atlanta Student Movement and yet brought more exposure to the Movement.
Lonnie King, Jr. had moved to Atlanta at a young age and attend David T. Howard High School and was a classmate of Vernon Jordan.
After high school graduation, Lonnie King, Jr. went on to attend Morehouse College.
With Lonnie King, Jr. as one of the primary leaders, “An Appeal for Human Rights,” a list of demands to the city and nation, was authored. This list included demands regarding the equity, equal access and positive treatment to Blacks in the areas of 1) Education, 2) Jobs, 3) Housing, 4) Voting, 5) Hospitals and 6) Law Enforcement. This marked a critical turning point in Civil Rights. This “Appeal” was heard and printed throughout the country, sparking a fire in an already heated Movement.
Atlanta’s Black business leaders raised money to pay the bonds for the students as they were arrested for nonviolent protests and sit-ins. These business leaders included the likes of the late Herman J. Russell; the late Jesse Hill, Jr.; and the late Dr. Clinton E. Warner who were also pivotal in the founding and sustaining of The Atlanta Inquirer newspaper. The late Attorney Donald Lee Hollowell helped to defend those that protested.
The protests affected many businesses throughout Atlanta including the Pickrick Restaurant (at that time, near Georgia Tech) which was owned by known segregationist Lester Maddox. He refused to serve Black customers in his restaurant in defiance of the Civil Rights Act. Maddox went on to become Georgia’s 75th Governor from 1967 to 1971.
King left Morehouse College and joined the U. S. Navy, where he was a prize fighter. After leaving the Navy, King eventually returned to Morehouse to finish his education. He earned a Master’s in Public Education from the University of Baltimore.
In 1970, he ran for Congress in a primary race that included Andrew Young.
King served at the president of the Atlanta Chapter of the NAACP. In that position, he was instrumental in getting the Atlanta School Board to hire its first Black superintendent, Alonzo Crim.
King is survived by three children and six grandchildren. Murray Brothers Funeral Home – Cascade (in Atlanta, Georgia) will handle King’s final arrangements.
Statement from Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. (pastor emeritus of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio)
Lonnie C. King, Jr., a friend and beloved brother for six decades. He was an abiding soldier, leader, and servant in the army of human rights, civil rights, equity, liberation and reconciliation. His sacrifices were unlimited and his life is a chapter in history to be referenced, taught and celebrated for generations yet unborn. We shall miss him profoundly, but we are forever grateful for his gifts, dedication and phenomenal service.
Lonnie King, Jr. was attacked by an angry White man while picketing the Mann Brothers Market on Gordon in 1960. Although he was a former U. S. Navy prize boxer, King refused to fight back in keeping with the nonviolent code. Other protesters remained calm in nonviolence during the incident.
Last updated on March 15, 2020