Three Black women who sued for their right to attend Georgia State University more than 60 years ago — a groundbreaking court case that eventually led to the integration of Georgia State and other universities in the South — were recently honored by the school.
Myra Payne Elliott, Barbara Pace Hunt and Iris Mae Welch, with the help of the NAACP, sued the school in 1956 and won the case three years later, but were still prevented from enrolling through laws enacted by the state legislature and policies set forth by the board of regents.
Because of their challenge to segregation, the women faced hatred, vile statements from state legislators, and threats from white supremacists, including members of the Ku Klux Klan.
The case was the NAACP’s first federal court victory against segregated education in Georgia. Georgia State would not integrate until 1962.