By: Laura-Jane Hatcher (WRGA News)
In 1963, Lavada Dillard and 62 other high-school students were jailed in what is now the City Auditorium after a non-violent civil rights march through downtown Rome.
Some fifty years later, Dillard stood before the Rome Commission and received the city’s highest honor, just two floors above where she was incarcerated for five days.
At their Monday meeting, Dillard was given a Key to the City by the commission for her civil rights archival work.
Unbeknownst to many, Rome was one of nine cities in Georgia that had a notable civil rights movement. The University of Georgia has been compiling the histories of these movements, and for 44years, Rome was the only city with no recorded narration of the 1963 events. That’s where Dillard stepped in and helped amass records and accounts for the Freedom on Film Project and website, cementing the rich history of Civil Rights in Rome.
Dillard was not expecting the Key to the City when she attended the meeting Monday.
“I was jailed in the civil rights movement in Rome, in the basement of this very place,” she says outside of the Rome City Auditorium. “Now, I have gone to the very top of it to receive a Key to the City of Rome. That is more of an honor then expectation.”
To visit the online database that houses the history of the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia, go to civilrights.uga.edu.