Grace Towns Hamilton and the Politics of Southern Change

Lorraine Nelson Spritzer and Jean B. Bergmark

"An impressive biography that provides fresh insight into the patterns of change in southern politics and race relations." -Kirkus Reviews


"Grace Towns Hamilton exemplifies the legions of strong southern African American women who transformed a nation with their passion, dignity, integrity, wit, and wisdom."
—Andrew Young

"Grace Towns Hamilton's story should be read by all who want to know the whole story of the South's racial revolution."
—Julian Bond

"This biography of Grace Towns Hamilton makes a contribution to several overlapping fields: the history of twentieth-century Atlanta and Georgia, the history of the post-World War II civil rights movement, and the history of women's political activism. What comes to light in this book is a fascinating political figure whose career encompasses the many changes of the twentieth-century South."
—Kathryn L. Nasstrom

"A member of Atlanta's elite black middle class, Hamilton practiced conciliation, negotiation, and interracial cooperation and achieved results, e.g., increased black voter registration, better housing, improved education and healthcare, and a new Atlanta city charter. She won respect from white politicians but received little approval from the younger, more militant generation of black political leaders. Using oral history and archival material, the authors movingly portray Hamilton as an agent for racial equality."
Library Journal

"Spritzer and Bergmark have significantly expanded our understanding of Hamilton's influence and impact on southern politics."
—Rudolph P. Byrd

"Spritzer and Bergmark have captured the velvet essence of 'the most influential black woman of the twentieth century in Atlanta."
—John Egerton

More / Hide

No history of the civil rights era in the South would be complete without an account of the remarkable life and career of Grace Towns Hamilton, the first African American woman in the Deep South to be elected to a state legislature. A national official of the Young Women's Christian Association early in her career, Hamilton later headed the Atlanta Urban League, where she worked within the confines of segregation to equalize African American access to education, health care, and voting rights. In the Georgia legislature from 1965 until 1984, she exercised considerable power as a leader in the black struggle for local, state, and national offices, promoting interracial cooperation as the key to racial justice. Her probity and moderation paved the way for the election of other black women, and by the end of her political career no southern legislature was without women members of her race.

Lorraine Nelson Spritzer and Jean B. Bergmark examine two generations of African American history to give the long view of Hamilton's activism. The life spans of Hamilton and her father, an Atlanta University professor who was her greatest mentor, encompassed the best and worst of the African American experience, inevitably shaping Hamilton's outlook and achievements.

Page count: 296 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9

Read more about Grace Towns Hamilton at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


List price: $29.95

buy button
View Shopping Cart

Lorraine Nelson Spritzer is a freelance writer based in Tempe, Arizona. Jean B. Bergmark, a freelance writer based in Atlanta, is the coauthor of Notable Men and Women of the Civil War.