On Veterans Day (Nov. 11), we honor the sacrifice and courage of all veterans, throughout American history. We also want to honor one veteran specifically: Lucious Sanders, a WWII veteran and civil rights activist who helped to shape the history of Lithonia and the nation.
After serving in the military in WWII, Sanders returned to a country where he was being deprived of basic rights as an American citizen. “I had spent four years in the U.S. Army and came back and couldn’t even register to vote,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1984. “I started to wonder what’s wrong.”
Sanders did more than wonder. After leading voter registration drives in DeKalb County, he founded the Lithonia Civic League to continue the work of voter registration, combat racism, and raise civic awareness. He also worked to found the Lithonia Federal Credit Union, a Black-owned credit union, and the Anna Sanders Educational Fund, which worked to increase access to education for low-income students. He was the first Black member of the DeKalb County Parks & Recreation Board and sat on boards for the NAACP, the DeKalb Council on Aging, the Lithonia Business Group, and more. Sanders remained active in his efforts to increase equality throughout his life.
“He was a very hardworking man, always very active in the community, ” said his niece, Patrilla Arrington, in 2019. “He was all about integration, he was all about bringing the Black and white community together.” That included civil rights marches in the Atlanta area; Arrington even recalls him attending the famous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. “When they had the March on Washington, he gathered together some of the family members, a lot of the people over at the Bruce Street community, they got a bus together and they all took the bus and they all marched during that time in Washington, D.C. for civil rights.”
Learn More About Lithonia Civil Rights Leaders
Today, you can learn more about Lucious Sanders and other Lithonia civil rights leaders at the historic gateway to the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, located at 2564 Wiggins Street, right next to the Lithonia Woman’s Club. The greenspace is open from dawn until dusk every day of the week and features figures such as Sanders, Bruce Street School Principal C. E. Flagg, Lithonia’s first Black city councilwoman Maggie Woods, and more!
You can hear the full conversation with Lucious Sanders’ niece and nephews here: