Chevene Bowers "C. B." King (October 12, 1923 – March 15, 1988) was a pioneering African-American attorney, civil rights leader in Georgia during the Civil Rights Movement, and political candidate.
Born in Albany, Georgia, King was one of eight children of Clennon Washington King Sr. and Margaret (Slater) King, both of whom graduated from Tuskegee Institute. Among his six brothers were Slater King and the much younger Preston King. Following graduation from a segregated high school in Albany, C.B. King served in the United States Navy.
King received a B.A. degree from Fisk University, a historically black 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 to Albany. He became 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.
During the early 1960s, he was a leader of the Albany Movement, demonstrating for civil rights such as desegregation of buses and public facilities, and for employment of blacks in businesses that they patronized. He led boycotts of places to achieve these goals. King was severely beaten by police and faced many threats to his life during a campaign described by national leader Martin Luther King Jr. of SCLC as one of the crucial battles of the civil rights struggle.
C.B. King ran as a candidate 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 in the city and state.
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 ending 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. King is the fourth African American to serve as a namesake of a federal courthouse; the other three were Martin Luther King Jr., Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Cleveland Mayor Carl Stokes.
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