Bro. William A. Pledger (1852-1904) served many important roles in his life. He was an newspaper editor, political leader, and #civilrights activist. As a matter of fact he was the most important African American political leader in the great state of Georgia of the 19th century!
He was born near Jonesboro, Georgia, the son of a slave mother and a white planter father (names unknown). He received limited formal education as a child and little is known of his childhood, though Pledger himself related his early interest in #politics to a contemporary journalist.
He attended Atlanta University as an adult and finally gained entrance to the Georgia bar as a self-taught lawyer in 1894. Early in his career he worked on a railroad with Monroe Morton.
While he studied at #AtlantaUniversity he taught grade school in #Athens.
Members of the old #DemocraticParty closed his school in 1872.
Bro. Pledger is credited with being the first #AfricanAmerican #lawyer in #Atlanta and his political roles and efforts led the way for many who followed.
A staunch #RepublicanParty supporter, Pledger gave stump speeches and became a party #delegate. He also started a series of newspapers.He owned and edited the “Athens Blade” with William Henry Heard. He also started the Weekly, the Defiance, the Reporter and the Age newspapers respectively. President Chester A. Arthur named Pledger surveyor of customs in Atlanta .
He was known as quite the militant in respects to the rights of African Americans. In 1902 he testified before a Congressional committee on Lynchings. He told them of the dire need for intervention as black people in the south were being lynched just so that the landowners would be able to keep the vegetables they had share-cropped.
So stalwart and brave was our brother who even with his stature, led a group of armed brethren to the Athens county jail to thwart a lynch mob of angry white men from stringing up two men before their cases could be heard before a judge. He was loyal and truly his brothers keeper until his death in 1904
Another #Oddfellow (I posted on last week) ! Bro. Henry Lincoln Johnson was his law partner and succeeded him in office.
Can you be any more proud ?????