Savannah Beach wade-in has Atlanta ties, students recognized with historical marker

The wade-ins were part of protests happening all over Savannah.
Savannah Wade in Historical Marker has Atlanta ties (COURTESY: City of Savannah Municipal...
Savannah Wade in Historical Marker has Atlanta ties (COURTESY: City of Savannah Municipal Archives)
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 5:39 PM EDT
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*** ALL HISTORIC PHOTOS COURTESY OF CITY OF SAVANNAH MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - On this day more than 60 years ago a group of students from Morehouse College was headed into the water at Tybee Island, protesting in hopes of desegregating the beach.

Their contributions were recently recognized with a historical marker.

“August 17th, 1960 was the first organized wade-in at Savannah City Beach,” said Elyse Butler with the Georgia Historical Society.

These students were at what we know now as Tybee Island, wading into the waters of an all-white beach, hoping the waves they made, opened the beach to everyone.

They responded to a nationwide call to action from the NAACP after an incident in Mississippi.

“They do go on for a period of about 3 years. How many I am not sure. It looks like records vary,” said Butler.

Historians believe that some of the students were from Morehouse College.

The wade-ins were part of protests happening all over Savannah.

“I am one of the originals who was arrested in 1963. We were at the Holiday Inn, kneel-in. A lot of us are deceased now but I was in jail for three days,” said civil rights activist Mary Gray.

“All of these efforts combined led to the City of Savannah desegregating before the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” said Butler.

There is a historical marker now, standing on the beach where students spent an August afternoon, wading fearlessly into the waters of an all-white beach, where a three-year peaceful protest began.

“I am so happy to be here to witness this marker,” said Gray, “We still have a long way to go.”

One Morehouse student, documented by name, is connected to the Savannah Beach wade-ins: Amos C. Brown. Jasmine Gurley, Director of Public Relations, and Communications for Morehouse College released a statement saying:

“I’m so happy to learn of the commemoration to the Savannah Wade-In movement, especially to know a Morehouse student led the charge amongst his peers. For every Martin Luther King Jr, Julian Bond, and Benjamin Elijah Mays, there must be 100 “Amos’s” and, at Morehouse, we are aiming to raise up more.”