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Inquirer Family Mourns the Loss of Friend and Activist Carolyn Long Banks

Carolyn Long Banks
October 30, 1940 – April 12, 2023

Carolyn Long Banks was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Ralph A. Long, Sr. and Rubye Carolyn Hall Long. Long Banks and her family played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights movement in Atlanta. She graduated from Atlanta’s Henry McNeil Turner High School.

She graduated from Clark College (now, Clark Atlanta University). While at Clark, she was initiated into Sigma Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (1959). She also received a degree from Georgia State University.

Long Banks is noted as being a crucial part of the Atlanta Student Movement and, in 1960, she participated in the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights (COAHR). She worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the committee to create a manifesto that outlined the problems facing the Black community. 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.

In 1962, she was invited by Rich’s to integrate the Magnolia Room and would later be one of the first Black buyer for Rich’s Department Store.


Activists Mary Ann Smith and Carolyn Long Banks featured in The Atlanta Inquirer, August 29, 1960, page 4
(Left to right) Mary Ann Smith and Carolyn L. Long exhibit the scroll presented to them for their participation in the sit-in demonstrations which have swept the South since February [1960]. The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Convention honored the two Atlantans.

Remembering Carolyn Long Banks
“Carolyn Long Banks, courageous, brilliant, achieving, and servant leader of her generation. Carolyn spent time in jail in order that those coming after her could share the fruits of justice and liberation. Carolyn and her beloved sister spend time in jail, that future generations could draw fruit from the tree of liberation. Atlanta is a much greater city because of people like Carolyn. Well done beloved sister. The world is a better place because people like you struggled to make it a better place. Amen and thanks be to God.”
Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., Photo by John B. Smith, Jr.
Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., Photo by John B. Smith, Jr.
Statement by activist Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr.

She served on Atlanta’s City Council from 1980 until 1997, becoming the first Black woman to serve on the council.

She had been appointed on the Commission on the Status of Women by then-Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter.

She was also president of the National League of Cities, and a lifetime member of its executive committee. She was president of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials and of the Women in Municipal Government.

Long Banks joined President Bill Clinton at the White House to sign his first piece of legislation, the Family Medical Leave Act.

Before retiring, Long Banks worked briefly at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Marietta, Georgia.

She was a member of St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church in Atlanta.

Her father was none other than activist Ralph A. Long Sr. (died in 1998), a teacher, principal and coach for which an Atlanta Public School was named. He was a tennis champion in Georgia from 1929 to 1934 and the Southern champion from 1931 to 1933. He later founded a tennis league for Blacks, the American Tennis Association. He worked to raise money for students who had been arrested during sit-ins in the 1960s. He was the first director of the Kennedy School and Center, a community facility with social service offices and recreation programs, located near the Atlanta University Center.

Her sister, fellow activist Wylma Long Blanding, also participated with the Atlanta Student Movement. Their brother, Ralph A. Long, Jr. is noted as one of the first three Blacks admitted to Georgia Tech.

Carolyn Long Banks is survived by her children, April and James.


Services for Carolyn Long Banks
Services for Carolyn Long Banks

Carolyn Lucille Long Banks Funeral Program: Carolyn Lucille Long Banks Funeral Program

Carolyn Lucille Long Banks Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Omega Omega Program: Carolyn Lucille Long Banks Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Omega Omega Program

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Last updated on May 14, 2023

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