On Sine Die in 1964, heated debates raged over plans to give metro Atlanta two of Georgia’s 10 congressional seats. Denmark Groover—a four-time Democratic representative from Bibb County revered and feared for his ability to perfect and, if he so chose, derail legislation—raced to the gallery overlooking the lower chamber. In a dramatic effort to halt the formal end of the 40-day legislative session, he climbed over the railing and ripped the clock from the wall, causing it to fall to the ground below. A segregationist who spearheaded legislation to add the Confederate battle emblem to the state flag in the 1950s, he became a critic of the symbol later in life. In 2001, at the request of then Governor Roy Barnes, he told state lawmakers that removing the emblem “would bring to an end this cauldron of discord that adversely affects our lives and the future of our children and grandchildren.” The flag was changed, Barnes lost re-election, and Groover, at 78, died three months later.
This article appears in our June 2019 issue.