Addie Byrd Hamplet Byers, the Georgia educator who challenged a policy that barred black children from using local libraries, died on Dec. 2. Cause of death was not released. She was 97.
Byers earned a bachelor’s degree from Savannah State College and a master’s from Columbia University. She taught in the public school system for more than 30 years, yet also became a political activist and civil rights supporter. During the 1950s, she lobbied for black children to have the right to use public libraries. At the time, one librarian allegedly claimed the children weren’t allowed to visit because they “never asked.”
“I told the members of the library board that the black community didn’t ask to pay taxes, either,” Byers once said.
Byers served on the Georgia Democratic Executive Committee and was the first black woman on the Chatham-Effingham-Liberty Regional Library board. In 1985, she received the Freedom Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. A roadway in Savannah also bears her name.