Georgia Civil Rights Trail Expands with Dedication of Alonzo Herndon Historical Marker – Press Release

Atlanta, Ga., October 27, 2017 – The Georgia Historical Society unveiled a new historical marker as part of the Georgia Civil Rights Trail this week recognizing Alonzo Herndon, barber, entrepreneur, and founder of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company.

Speakers for the dedication included Vince Dooley, Chairman of the Georgia Historical Society Board of Curators; Dr. Mark Becker, President, Georgia State University; Lonnie C. King, Jr., Atlanta Student Movement veteran; Kwanza Hall, Atlanta City Councilman, District 2; Dr. Sarah Cook, Honors College, Georgia State University; and Dr. W. Todd Groce, President and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society.

(Representatives from the Alonzo F. and Norris B. Herndon Foundation also attended, from left to right: Program Director, Julissa White Smith; Preservation Fellow, Natasha Lindsey; and Chief Docent for the Herndon Home Museum, Roberta Phillips)

“The epicenter of the civil rights movement was situated in Georgia,” said Dr. W. Todd Groce, President and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society. “So it’s appropriate that the Georgia Historical society has created the Georgia Civil Rights Trail as a way to encourage the public to learn more about the vital role that our state and its people played in securing full citizenship for African Americans. It’s a legacy we all share as Georgians. For anytime that one group gains its civil liberties, we all are that much more free.”

“The recognition of this great man is long overdue,” said Lonnie King. “Alonzo Herndon succeeded against all odds and to see him honored by the Georgia Historical Society and the leadership of of Georgia State University is very fitting.”

The Georgia Civil Rights Trail focuses broadly on the economic, social, political, and cultural history of the Civil Rights Movement by guiding audiences to the sites where history happened, inviting them to stand on the ground where struggles and events took place, and providing a foundation upon which to build and cultivate a deeper understanding of the past and its relevance to the present.

The Alonzo Herndon historical marker is located in front of the Georgia State University Honors College at 100 Auburn Avenue.

The historical marker reads:

Alonzo Herndon

Alonzo Herndon was born into slavery in Walton County, Georgia, in 1858. After moving to segregated Atlanta, Herndon opened several barbershops including the upscale Crystal Palace in 1902. In 1905, he purchased a small mutual aid association that eventually became the Atlanta Life Insurance Company. Headquartered here on Auburn Avenue, it grew into one of the country’s most successful black-owned businesses. A founding member of the National Business League organized by Booker T. Washington in 1900, and of the Niagara Movement (forerunner of the NAACP) organized by W. E. B. Du Bois in 1905, Herndon became noted for his involvement in and support of local organizations devoted to advancing African-American business and community life. One of Atlanta’s most important twentieth-century entrepreneurs, Herndon died in 1927 and is buried in South-View Cemetery.

Erected by the Georgia Historical Society, Georgia State University, Atlanta Student Movement Veterans of the 1960s, and District Two, Atlanta City Council



The Georgia Historical Society (GHS) administers Georgia’s historical marker program. Over the past 20 years, GHS has erected over 250 new historical markers across the state on a wide variety of subjects. GHS also maintains the more than 2,100 markers installed by the State of Georgia prior to 1998. Online mapping tools allow users to design driving routes based on historical markers, and a mobile app helps visitors locate and learn about markers nearby.Visit for more ways to use Georgia’s historical markers and experience history where it happened.

Georgia Historical Society (GHS) is the premier independent statewide institution responsible for collecting, examining, and teaching Georgia history. GHS houses the oldest and most distinguished collection of materials related exclusively to Georgia history in the nation.
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Herndon Game Changer Program begins fourth year

Shayla Benson

Marketing Intern

Informative Essay

16 November 2017

“Changing Outlooks, Changing Lives”: Herndon Game Changer Program

Youth outreach is taking the initiative to prepare younger generations to meet the challenges of adulthood and reach their full potential. Through leadership activities, engaging educational programs, youth outreach supports adolescents in developing: (a) the ability to analyze his or her own strengths and weaknesses, set personal and vocational goals, and build the self-esteem, confidence, motivation, and skills to carry them out (including establishing support networks in order to fully participate in community life and effect positive social change); and (b) the ability to guide or direct others on a course of action, influence the opinions and behaviors of others, and serve as a role model (Wehmeyer, Agran, & Hughes, 1998). A few prominent non- profit organizations who dedicate themselves to this work of social and professional development of young people include the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and The Urban League. Amongst those organizations is a burgeoning entrepreneurial training program in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia committed to equipping the next generation of young adults with the tools and practice that has proven to be effective for distinguished leaders and entrepreneurs – the Herndon Game Changer Program.

Founded in 2014, The Herndon Game Changer Program provides high school students in the Atlanta Metropolitan area with a year- round program that trains, educates, and encourages youth to recognize business opportunities and plan for successful futures. Meeting one Saturday a month from October to May, Game Changer students are given hands-on exposure and training from prominent CEOs and entrepreneurs in the Atlanta area. In addition to participating in community service, receiving access to a number of local corporate leaders, students are supported through presenting their personal business plans to a live audience of business leaders. As the Game Changers embark on their final year of high school, graduating seniors who have enrolled in college are eligible to receive scholarships to aid with their transition. As its fourth year has commenced, The Herndon Game Changer Program had their 2017- 2018 Program Orientation on Saturday, October 28, 2017 at the Herndon Home Mansion Museum where students learned about the life and legacy of the Program namesake, Alonzo Franklin Herndon.

Over the Game Changer Programs evolution, students have ranged from 14 to 18 years old, representing cities all across the City of Atlanta – from Douglas to Dekalb.  The highlight of every Game Changers program year is the culminating achievement and graduation ceremony. With student presentations being judged by well- known leaders and entrepreneurs in Atlanta, including Todd Zeldin, President & Founder of ACG Professionals, Amanda Williamson, Designer & Owner of Ennyluap, and Dr. Edward Davis, Dean of Clark Atlanta University’s School of Business, Game Changer students are afforded an opportunity to receive constructive criticism from real- world professionals and practice their presentation and critical thinking skills. Ceremony speakers have included included Keynote Speaker Councilman Kwanza Hall presenting a Proclamation on behalf of the City of Atlanta, declaring June 11, 2016 “Herndon Game Changers Day”, and Attorney Michael Thurmond, who actively engaged the students and inspired them to stay on track in their entrepreneurial journeys. The 2016-2017 class of Herndon Game Changers set a program record when graduating seniors received over $30,000 in scholarship funds to pursue their most ambitious dreams.

This year the Herndon Game Changer Program has continued to grow exponentially, accepting 54 juniors and seniors from 14 different schools in the Metro Atlanta area and the 2017-18 Program year holds an action- packed schedule for each of them. With sessions exploring entrepreneurship,leadership, and public speaking students will be exposed an exceptional opportunity that is few and far between, and specifically molded to produce our generation’s next big thing. The local business community is also engaged, and invited to participate in the program through formal business panels and volunteering alongside students during the annual community service day taking place at the Herndon Home Museum. Apart from the in- depth planning that makes this program possible, it is the community participation that heavily factors into the success of the program. Whether it is the array of volunteer guest speakers, or the community leaders who support the program with a financial investment, they are all doing their part to further the impact of entrepreneurship and continue the lasting legacy of Alonzo F. Herndon, creating the Game Changers of the next generation. The second Herndon Game Changer session for the 2017-2018 program is focused on Entrepreneurial tools and Skills and will take place Saturday, December 16th at the Dean Rusk YMCA. Business owners and entrepreneurs interested in learn more about the program and participating in the annual business panel can reach the Program Director at