We are looking forward to hearing from Ronnie Greene whose latest book, Heart of Atlanta: Five Black Pastors and the Supreme Court Victory for Integration, reveals the saga of the Heart of Atlanta case’s rise to the U.S. Supreme Court and restores the legal cases and their heroes to their proper place in history.
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Ronnie Greene is a veteran investigative reporter, who, over the years, has worked at the Center for Public Integrity, the Associated Press, and the Miami Herald. He is currently in the DC bureau of Reuters as Washington enterprise editor. He is the author of Shots on the Bridge, a narrative of the police shootings of unarmed innocents on the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina; and Night Fire, an exposé of Shell Oil's toxic waste pollution of the African American district of Norco, LA, a company town. He lives near Washington, DC.
The Heart of Atlanta Supreme Court decision stands among the court’s most significant civil rights rulings.
In Atlanta, Georgia, two arch segregationists vowed to flout the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the sweeping slate of civil rights reforms just signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Pickrick restaurant was run by Lester Maddox, soon to be governor of Georgia. The other, the Heart of Atlanta motel, was operated by lawyer Moreton Rolleston Jr.
After the law was signed, a group of ministry students showed up for a plate of skillet-fried chicken at Maddox’s diner. At the Heart of Atlanta, the ministers reserved rooms and walked to the front desk.
Lester Maddox greeted them with a pistol, axe handles, and a mob of White supporters. Moreton Rolleston refused to accept the Black patrons. These confrontations became the centerpiece of the nation's first two legal challenges to the Civil Rights Act.