In 1948, he and several other blacks organized the "Voters League" in Lake Providence, Louisiana. This represented an organized attempt to exercise their right to vote. It was only the beginning of what was to be a struggle that lasted for nearly two decades.
After years of repeated and unsuccessful attempts to register and vote, Reverend Atlas was subpoenaed to appear and testify at a hearing of the United States Commission on Civil Rights regarding his efforts to register and vote. This testimony was given on September 27, 1960.
Almost immediately there was a backlash of unprecedented proportions. This organized conspiracy was designed to threaten, intimidate and coerce Reverend Atlas and other blacks in East Carroll Parish, for the purpose of discouraging them to vote. Various threatening, intimidating and coercive acts were recorded and reported. A lawsuit was filed by the United States Department of Justice, Commission on Civil Rights, on behalf of Reverend Atlas and other black citizens. After several days of litigation, the court issued an injunction enjoining the defendants, their agents, employees and representatives from any other engagement in this organized conspiracy.
In 1962 Reverend Atlas along with twenty one other black citizens of East Carroll Parish were escorted by federal marshals to the federal district offices in Monroe, Louisiana. There they registered as voters. That same year, those 22 citizens became the first black voters in East Carroll Parish.
For more information, please visit http://www.atlasfamily.org
Willie Mae Gibson Atlas
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