Dorchester Academy Boy's Dormitory

Dorchester Academy Boy's Dormitory Dorchester Academy Boys' Dormitory
Photograph courtesy of Lillie Gillard

  Dorchester Academy Field Foundation Representative Andrew Young
Photograph by Oliver F. Atkins, courtesy of Atkins Collection, George Mason University Libraries

Dorchester Academy, an abandoned Congregationalist missionary school not far from Savannah, Georgia, was one of two sites where the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) held its citizenship education workshops during the 1960s. In less than two years, the SCLC trained close to 2,000 teachers and leaders, who in turn taught more than 10,500 others in their home communities. Septima Clark, veteran educator and daughter of a slave, took in busloads of adult students and in week-long sessions taught them everything from basic reading, writing, and math to sections of state constitutions they would encounter in voter registration "quizzes." The students also learned the concepts and tactics of nonviolent direct action.

The SCLC's leadership training center was supported by a grant from the Marshall Field Foundation, which decided to support the civil rights movement by steering its philanthropy into voter registration. Field Foundation representative (and later mayor of Atlanta) Andrew Young was the school's first director.

Dorchester Academy was also the planning center for the SCLC's successful March 1963 campaign to end segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. The "Project C" (C for "Confrontation") blueprint involved ending segregation in Birmingham through four consecutive, increasingly-stronger steps--first, sit-ins and nightly mass meetings; second, a boycott of the downtown business district; third, mass marches; and fourth (if necessary), appeals to outsiders to descend on the city. Wyatt Walker, Project C coordinator, stressed that participants must not back down once the plan was in motion because some demoralized protestors might then become violent. Project C coordinators should be prepared to have at least 1,000 people in jail at one time, said Walker, and to keep the average jailgoer inside for more than four days (thereby putting economic pressure on the city).

Dorchester Academy Boys' Dormitory is located on U.S. Route 82 in Midway, Georgia. Currently undegoing a restoration, the academy is still used for community activities and is open to the public. Visit for further information.

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