From June 23 to July 2 four elderly nationally known deep-South politicians died. Two had worked tirelessly to remove the barriers of segregation for black Americans. Two had opposed integration with zeal.
Three were from Atlanta, Georgia, the premier southern city. Ivan Allen Jr., age 93, was one. He was a rich white Atlantan who served a mayor from 1962-1970.
Another was Lester Maddoc, 87, who loudly opposed black empowerment as Allen became dedicated to it. The third luminary was Maynard Jackson, 65, the first black mayor of Atlanta or any major city in the south.
Last but not the least was a 100-year old Strom Thurmond, the longest serving (48 years) U.S. senator from South Carolina. His lasting legacy is racial animosity.
Four deaths reminded Americans of how far racial equality had come since these men were in power. But it also pointed out gulfs remaining.