This Heartbreaking Murder Ignited A Powerful Movement

September 3, 2019

A young student activist and former Navy sailor, Samuel Younge was in Macon County, AL in 1966 to help register Black voters.

What happened instead shocked America, and changed Alabama for decades afterward. 

He stopped at a gas station to use the restroom, but the attendant demanded that he use the “colored” restroom in the back. When Younge asked to use the regular restroom - as was his legal right - the attendant threatened to shoot him!

Younge called the police, but before they arrived, the attendant started shooting. Younge hid, but was found - and shot in the head. His murder ignited weeks of protests throughout Tuskegee, AL.

White county officials refused to indict the attendant at first, but eventually relented after the public outcry. The case went to a jury trial - but the all-white jury promptly acquitted him.

This injustice again ignited activists, who kept Younge’s work - voter registration and political empowerment - going. They wouldn’t let him die in vain.

Thus the horrifying tragedy resulted in massively increased political participation by Black residents, and by 1970 a majority of elected officials in the majority-Black county were Black - a trend that has continued for decades!

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