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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

Feb. 9, 2009

Signer of historic civil rights manifesto to speak at Northwest

Dr. Norman Shands, a retired Southern Baptist minister who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil right leaders to desegregate public schools in Atlanta, Ga., will speak on the Northwest campus at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12, in the J.W. Jones Student Union Living Room.

Shands' appearance, one of several Northwest events planned in conjunction with Black History Month, is being sponsored through the University's Office of Intercultural Affairs in cooperation with the Laura Street Baptist Church of Maryville.

Now in his 90s, Shands, who is white, served as a pastor in Atlanta from 1953 until 1963 and was among those who, in 1957, signed the Ministers' Manifesto, which urged peaceful debate on integration after angry mobs tried to block young African-Americans from attending Central High School in Little Rock, Ark.

At the same time, Georgia segregationists were seeking to close schools across the state rather than allow black and white children to sit in the same classrooms.

After signing the historic manifesto, Shands went on to become involved in OASIS (Organizations Assisting Schools in September), one of a number of civil rights initiatives that eventually led to the admittance of ten black students to four all-white high schools in Atlanta in 1961.

The pro-integration stance of Shands and a handful of other white ministers in Georgia in the mid-1950s spawned a dialog with such civil rights leaders as Dr. Martin Luther King Sr., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Jacob Rothschild that lead to news reports and editorials in which Atlanta was labeled as "the city too busy to hate."

Other upcoming Northwest events tied to Black History Month include:

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468