Chevene Bowers "C. B." King (October 12, 1923 – March 15, 1988) was a pioneering African American attorney, civil rights leader during the Civil Rights Movement, and political candidate in Georgia.
Born in Albany, Georgia, King was one of eight children of Clennon Washington King Sr. and Margaret Slater King. Following graduation from a segregated high school in Albany, he served in the United States Navy.
He received a B.A. degree from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1949 and a law degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio in 1952. While in law school, he married Carol Roumain Johnson. Although other promising opportunities were available to him, he decided to return home and become the only black attorney practicing in his community, and one of only three practicing in Georgia (outside of Atlanta).
As an attorney, a civil rights leader, and a pioneering political candidate, C. B. King spent the remainder of his life contributing to the causes of justice, opportunity, and dignity for all Americans. Although he remained Albany-based throughout his career, limiting his activities primarily to the areas of southwest Georgia where he was raised, he became nationally-known. As a leader of the Albany Movement, King was severely beaten and faced many threats to his life during a campaign described by Martin Luther King Jr. as one of the crucial battles of the civil rights struggle. He ran political races for President, Congress and as the first black gubernatorial candidate in Georgia since Reconstruction to gain a forum for the causes he represented. He devoted much of his time to pro bono law work for the poor and to volunteering in community projects for the needy. He was most noted as the lead attorney in a series of landmark lawsuits against longstanding discriminatory practices.
Cases that he won include Gaines v. Dougherty County Board of Education, Lockett v. Board of Education of Muscogee County, and Harrington v. Colquitt County Board of Education (involving multiple appeals over a period of time to gain full compliance with Brown v. Board of Education in those communities, accelerating the pace of desegregation in other areas); Anderson v. City of Albany and Kelly v. Page (reaffirming the right of citizens to peaceably assemble); Bell v. Southwell (ending the use of segregated polling booths, voiding an election where separate booths were used); Brown v. Culpepper, Foster v. Sparks, Thompson v. Sheppard, Pullum v. Greene, Broadway v. Culpepper, and Rabinowitz v. United States (prohibiting use of jury selection lists on which blacks were underrepresented and ended the exclusion of blacks on juries on the basis of race); and Johnson v. City of Albany (ending discriminatory practices in local government employment).
Chevene Bowers King died in 1988 following a lengthy illness. The C. B. King United States Courthouse in Albany, Georgia was renamed in his honor in 2000. It is the first Federal Courthouse in the former Jim Crow South to be named for a black man and he is the fourth to receive this honor within the entire United States, the other three being Martin Luther King Jr., Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Cleveland Mayor Carl Stokes.
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