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Georgia's county unit system for deciding elections was challenged this year. In the county unit sytem, candidates were not chosen by popular vote. The winner of each county received that county's "unit" votes, with larger counties having up to eight unit votes, but all smaller counties having at least two. This system helped keep political power largely in the rural areas of the state. Since Georgia had 159 counties, a candidate could win election by dominating the smaller counties and virtually ignoring the rapidly growing urban areas. In the case of Gray v. Sanders, an Atlanta resident contended that under the county unit system his vote did not count equally to those of rural voters. Judge Griffin Bell ruled that the county unit system was invalid and a new system had to be designed before the Democratic primary of this year, a design in which each vote counted equally. Then Governor Ernest Vandiver, Jr. called a special session of the Georgia legislature to revise Georgia's election procedures. The Supreme Court would uphold Bell's decision the following year (see 1963).
Carl Sanders was elected governor of Georgia over former governor Marvin Griffin. At the time Sanders was the nation's youngest governor (age 37), and the first elected along with the decline of the county unit system. It was also the first Georgia gubernatorial campaign in which television played a major role.
An Air France jetliner crashed soon after takeoff in Paris, killing 130 people - the worst single air accident to that time. Of the dead, 115 were Georgians - 106 of which were art patrons from Atlanta on an European tour sponsored by the Atlanta Art Association.
Resulting from his arrest in supporting the Albany Movement the previous year (see 1961), Martin Luther King, Jr. was sentenced to 45 days in jail or a $178 fine. After the the Albany city leaders had not lived up to their agreement the previous year to integrate the city's bus and train stations, King and fellow protestors tried to meet with them for weeks. When they refused, King once again led a protest prayer at city hall, and he and his followers were again arrested. The Albany police closed city parks and the library when African-Americans tried to use them, plus arresting a group trying to integrate a local hotel. The situation turned even more violent when a church in neigboring Lee County, which had hosted a voter registration meeting, was firebombed. Martin Luther King, Jr. issued a nationwide call for clergymen to come to Albany to aid in their protest; the call was answered and seventy-four men, including nine rabbis, eight Catholic laymen, and over forty Protestant ministers, were arrested following a march to city hall. Soon after this three more African-American churches in nearby Terrell County were also burned.
A civil rights bus boycott took place in Macon, Georgia, and an African-American church was burned there - the eighth such incident in Georgia for this year.
"I Can't Stop Loving You," performed by Georgian Ray Charles, topped the popular music charts, followed later in the year by another number one song, "You Don't Know Me."
Jackie Robinson was selected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
The man most consider the greatest football player in the history of the University of Georgia - Herschel Walker - was born in Wrightsville, Georgia.
Future Atlanta resident, Olympic medalist, and world heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield was born in Alabama.
See the following This Day in Georgia History entries:
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