Originally created 09/12/99

A look at the 20th century: 1971



A tumultuous struggle ensued throughout 1971 to get Richmond County schools integrated, the free press scored in the Pentagon Papers case, the country's most notorious killer was sentenced to die and a golf legend who put Augusta on the sports map died at age 85.

Race relations led the news of 1971 as Richmond County Board of Education members were sent back to the drawing board to come up with a school desegregation plan to satisfy a federal mandate.

A federal judge rejected the school board's racial integration plan and barred schools from opening, ruling the plan was insufficient. At a court hearing attended by 1,500 people, the judge agreed to allow students to return to classes.

Most of those attending the hearing were whites opposed to increased busing to help achieve integration. A group of white high school students predicted the dropout rate would zoom. Teacher Reggie Pilcher declared he was tired of the U.S. Supreme Court running the country.

Augusta College professor John M. Smith blasted Superintendent Roy E. Rollins for not showing leadership in integrating Richmond County schools. Rollins declined to attend a summer race relations seminar that focused on integration.

School desegregation was only one aspect of racial unrest throughout the city.

Augusta's Human Relations Commission was formed in 1971 to combat racial discrimination. The commission had been proposed following the city's May 1970 race riots in which six people were killed. In February 1971, Augusta police Sgt. L.C. Dinkins was acquitted of violating the civil rights of Louis Nelson Williams, 18, who was killed during the riots.

The United States entered another year of the Vietnam War and President Richard M. Nixon promised to withdraw American troops from Southeast Asia. South Dakota's U.S. Sen. George McGovern, a Democrat, announced his candidacy for president and pledged to withdraw every U.S. soldier from South Vietnam if elected.

President Nixon unveiled plans to visit communist China in 1972 to seek "normalization of relations between the two countries."

In February, teletype operator W.S. Eberhardt at a Civil Defense command post accidentally flashed an authentic emergency alert message to broadcast stations across the nation, triggering widespread fear. "I don't know how the hell I did it," Mr. Eberhardt exclaimed.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 against the federal government and allowed The Washington Post and The New York Times to publish the Pentagon Papers -- controversial government documents examining decision-making in Vietnam since World War II. The government claimed publishing the documents would threaten national security.

Every moment the newspapers were prevented from publishing the report was an attack on the First Amendment, Justice Hugo Black said, declaring: "The press was to serve the governed and not the governors."

But Chief Justice Warren E. Burger described the First Amendment right to publish as not absolute.

Charles Manson, whose killings in 1969 have mesmerized the nation for decades, was convicted along with his three co-defendants of murder in the slayings of Hollywood actress Sharon Tate and several others. Mr. Manson was sentenced to death, but his sentence later was commuted to life in prison when the Supreme Court later temporarily banned the death penalty.

Augustans mourned the loss of golf legend Bobby Jones, who built Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament. He died of heart failure after suffering from a ruptured aneurysm. He accomplished golf's grand slam at age 28 by winning the U.S. Open, the U.S. Amateur, the British Open and the British Amateur before retiring, saying "That's all there is. There isn't any more." Three days before his death, he was baptized Catholic.

Fort Gordon announced plans to name the post hospital for the late former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was supreme Allied commander in Europe during World War II. His widow, Mamie Eisenhower, attended the ground-breaking ceremony in April.

Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter dedicated Augusta's new University Hospital in April, calling it the finest medical center in the state. Mr. Carter was elected president five years later.

A proposed consolidation of Augusta and Richmond County governments was a hot political topic in 1971 -- a quarter-century before the city-county merger became final in 1996. Nearby, Beech Island voters decided in 1971 not to form a city government.

Augusta Canal was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Central of Georgia Railroad made the last run of passenger service from Atlanta to Savannah.

Richmond County Sheriff William A. Anderson created a two-man narcotics squad as drugs became an increasing local problem for law enforcement.

On television, The Electric Company premiered in October 1971 with its trademark phrase "Hey, you guys!" The children's educational show featured Easy Reader Morgan Freeman, Bill Cosby, Rita Moreno, Lee Chamberlain, Judy Graubart, Skip Hinnart and Jimmy Boyd.

On the big screen, The French Connection won Best Picture at the Academy Awards for 1971 with leading man Gene Hackman taking home the Best Actor award and Jane Fonda earning the Best Actress award for Klute.

Cigarette advertisements were banned on television and radio.

Willie Mays became the highest paid baseball player with a $150,000 paycheck, following his $135,000 salary the previous year when he played 139 of 162 games, hit 28 home runs, drove in 83 runs and scored 94 runs. Tennis star Billie Jean King became the first female athlete to win $100,000 in a single year. The Pittsburgh Pirates won baseball's World Series 4-3 over the Baltimore Orioles.

Other notable deaths in 1971: Whitney Young, American civil rights leader; Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, French fashion designer; and James Cash Penney, the department store founder.

Internationally, women were granted the right to vote in some countries, while in the United States the voting age was lowered to 18.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was re-elected by India's New Congress party and Brian Faulkner was elected prime minister of a troubled Northern Ireland.

The stock market slumped in the last half of 1971, after early months of optimism, due to a dip in the economy in 1970. Georgia's economy showed a comeback in 1971. Unemployment remained steady from the previous year, although it peaked in June 1971 because many graduates couldn't find jobs in the tight economy.

Time line

Jan. 12:

The first two cadaver kidney transfers (transplants) are performed at Medical College of Georgia.

Jan. 12:

A federal grand jury indicts the Rev. Philip Berrigan and five others, including a nun and two priests, on charges of plotting to kidnap presidential adviser Henry A. Kissinger.

Jan. 27:

Gasoline prices in Augusta drop to 31.9 cents a gallon for regular fuel.

Jan. 31:

Apollo 14 astronauts begin America's third space voyage to the surface of the moon. The lunar module lands Feb. 5 and returns to Earth Feb. 9.

Feb. 5:

South Vietnamese military forces launch a major offensive into neighboring Cambodia.

Feb. 9:

An earthquake rocks the Los Angeles area, killing 64.

Feb. 15:

A secret U.S. Central Intelligence Agency base in Laos is bombed by mistake in the Vietnam War.

March 16:

Republican Thomas E. Dewey, who ran for president twice, dies at 68.

April 27:

Baseball star Hank Aaron hits his 600th career home run and becomes the third player ever to reach that mark.

June 3:

Imprisoned Jimmy Hoffa quits as head of the Teamsters union.

June 12:

Tricia Nixon, daughter of President Richard M. Nixon and first lady Patricia Nixon, marries Edward Finch Cox in the first wedding at the White House Garden.

July 26:

NASA launches the Apollo 15 mission to the moon. U.S. astronauts land on the lunar surface July 30 and return to earth Aug. 7.

Aug. 21:

Three officers and four inmates are killed in an escape attempt at the San Quentin prison in California.

Sept. 8:

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, named for the late President John F. Kennedy, opens in Washington.

Sept. 23:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice John M. Harlan retires at age 72.

Oct. 19:

Augusta City Council names its appointees to the newly created Human Relations Commission.

Nov. 12:

President Richard M. Nixon steps up the withdrawal rate for U.S. military forces leaving South Vietnam, cutting the number of American service members in the country to 139,000 by Feb. 1, 1972.

Nov. 24:

Hijacker D.B. Cooper parachutes from a Northwest Airlines jet over Washington state after collecting $200,000 in ransom.

Nov. 27:

Three are killed in Northern Ireland, bringing the deaths in the religious strife there to 107.

Dec. 10:

The U.S. Senate confirms the nomination of William H. Rehnquist as a Supreme Court justice.

Dec. 19:

Augusta National Golf Club legend Bobby Jones dies at age 69.

Meghan Gourley can be reached at (706) 823-3227 or mgourley@augustachronicle.com.