Athens Oral History Project, AOHP 003 Archibald Killian interviewed by Alexander StephensAthens Oral History Project, AOHP 003 Archibald Killian interviewed by Alexander Stephens

Athens Oral History Project, AOHP 003 Archibald Killian interviewed by Alexander Stephens

Descriptive Summary

Title: Athens Oral History Project, AOHP 003 Archibald Killian interviewed by Alexander Stephens
Creator: Killian, Archibald
Creator: Stephens, Alexander Maxwell, 1988-
Dates: 2014 July 23
Extent: 1.0 interview
Collection Number: RBRL/361/AOHP
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: Archibald Killian was born in Athens, GA in 1933. He studied at the Burdett School of Business in Boston, and served as a police officer overseas in the U.S. Air Force. In this interview, Killian discusses the process of desegregation of the University of Georgia and his decision to house Hamilton Holmes, one of the first two African-American students admitted to UGA, despite threats from the Klu Klux Klan. Killian also reflects on being one of the first African Americans to integrate the police department, his eventual decision to leave that job and join the postal service., and his role as pastor of the St. Mark AME Church after his retirement. Killian also comments on both positive and negative changes that he has witnessed in Athens over the years, and the importance of teaching history to young people.

Collection Description

Biographical note

Archibald Roosevelt Killian was born on July 10, 1933, in Athens, Georgia. He attended Reese Street School and Athens High and Industrial School. After graduating high school in 1950, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts, and enrolled in Burdett School of Business. He left Boston to join the military and served overseas as a police officer in the U.S. Air Force. After marrying, he and his wife moved to Los Angeles, California, where he continued his education and began working for the postal service. Killian returned to Athens to open a restaurant, Killian’s Four Seasons, with his brother, Alfred. Killian became involved in the desegregation of the University of Georgia in 1961 by housing Hamilton Holmes, one of the first two African American students admitted to UGA, in spite of threats from white supremacists. Killian and his cousin, Donald Moon, were the first African Americans to serve as police officers in Athens when they joined the force in 1962. Killian left the police department several years later to work as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. He served as the pastor of St. Mark AME Church after retiring from the post office.

Scope and Content

Killian discusses his decision to return to Athens after serving in the military and living in California. He talks about opening a restaurant on Broad Street in Athens, Killian’s Four Seasons, with his brother, Alfred. He comments on the desegregation of the University of Georgia and explains his decision to bring Hamilton Holmes, one of the first two African American students admitted to UGA, into his home in spite of threats of violence from the Ku Klux Klan. He comments on differences between nonviolence and self defense and talks about the Athens sit-ins movement to force the integration of local businesses. He discusses local African-American business districts, including Hot Corner and Calloway Corner.

Killian talks about his decision to become one of the first two African Americans to join the Athens police department. He discusses his time with the police force and the challenges he encountered, as well as his frustrations with the way police work has evolved. He describes how he made the decision to leave the police department and join the postal service. He discusses economic development in Athens and the ways in which neighborhoods have changed over time.

Killian comments on his relationship with Reverend Hudson of Ebenezer Baptist Church, West, who helped lead civil rights demonstrations in Athens. He talks about his multiracial ancestry and his determination to challenge white leaders when he believed they were wrong. He discusses the role of white leaders in implementing progressive changes, often out of public view. He explains his belief in the importance of teaching young people about their history and his concerns about the growth of prison populations.


Administrative Information and Restrictions

Custodial History note

The Athens Oral History Project was initiated in 2014 to document modern Athens history, roughly from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Interviews cover topics such as neighborhoods and communities in Athens, civil rights demonstrations, African American history, as well as personal histories of narrators.

Preferred citation

Athens Oral History Project, AOHP 003, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.

Copyright Information

Resources may be used under the guidelines described by the U.S. Copyright Office in Section 107, Title 17, United States Code (Fair use). Parties interested in production or commercial use of the resources should contact the Russell Library for a fee schedule.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared by Russell staff, 2016.


Related Materials

Access Points

Audiovisual.
College integration--Georgia--Athens--History.
Oral histories.

Related Collections in this Repository

Athens Oral History Project


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

AOHP 002 Archibald Killian video and interview index in OHMS, 2014 July 23 (Extent: 98.0 minutes ) Access Online