Annette Jones White is a civil rights activist who was forced to decide if she wanted to remain Miss Albany State in 1961, with a scholarship, or be a powerful voice of civil rights. The Albany, Ga. native had taken part in many protests to help end segregation, which included singing on the album “Freedom in the Air” released by the Student Nonviolent Coalition Committee.
Annette Jones White was not afraid of consequence. Her first protest was in 1959 at the Arctic Bear Drive-In. Despite the manager’s instructions that blacks remain in their cars to eat, White decided to sit on one of the benches. She refused to leave.
In Albany Ga.’s “Freedom Alley” stand off, black students gathered for protest in a local alley way, only to be arrested. White moved herself to the front near the police to be one of the first to be sent away to jail. She was determined to prove a point. Throughout that year, White and other Albany students led protests throughout the city, striving for integration and civil rights. They worked hard enough to get the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Andrew Young who scheduled a trip to Albany to assist, unbeknownst to Annette Jones White.
As a result of her involvement in civil rights, which subsequently led to her arrest, Annette Jones White was asked to discontinue her involvement or be stripped of her crown as Miss Albany 1961. A dedicated leader, she chose to keep marching. She was suspended from Albany State University and soon after expelled. She finished her education at the historic Spelman College in Atlanta. White earned her degree in English in 1964 and continued to work with SNCC over summer vacations.
Later that year, the official “Albany Movement” was launched in November. On December 13, 1961, White had been arrested prior to a city hall protest that was infiltrated by Mayor Asa Kelly. Dr. King was soon on his way to help the blacks of Albany seek peaceful justice.
Annette Jones White and the black protestors of Albany, Ga. continued to be arrested, even for praying on the sidewalks for civil rights and justice. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. arrived in July, 1962 to help mobilize the black community of Albany.
Annette Jones White later earned a Masters Degree from Virginia State University and returned to Spelman College as a staff member. She lives in East Point, Ga. and is featured in the current online review and exhibit under the National Center for Civil and Human Rights entitled ‘Freedom Mosaic.’
For more information on the historic resource through the NCCHR, go to www.freedommosaic.com
(Photo: Courtesy of Annette Jones White)