The decision to hire African Americans came in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, with the Atlanta church bombing that killed four little African American girls happening weeks later. This marker is significant because prior to 1963 African Americans had not been allowed to apply to work as firefighter s. Interviews with the firefighters revealed they were submitted to gruesome training tactics and they were made to understand that their fellow white firefighters wanted them to give up or fail.
At first, Fire Station 16 was all black except for white supervisors and eventually became integrated. The African American firefighters would still face all types of discrimination even though feeling like the heroes among their own community. The white male firefighters refused to share cabinets with black male firefighters and hesitated to assist them at fires.
Inscription: During the Civil Rights Movement, members of the African-American community pressured the Mayor and City Council of Atlanta to integrate the city's fire department. In 1962, Mayor Ivan Alan, authorized the first hiring of sixteen African American firemen. On April 1, 1963, after completing training, they were housed at Fire Station No. 16, as stations were not yet integrated
Side 2: Atlanta's First African-American Male Firefighters: Johnny Belcher• Ralph Lester • Frank Bolden• Quinton Redding • Harvey Bowen• Harold Rosemond • Theodore Ector James Maddox • William Hamer• Elbert Morrow • Milton Harp •Marvin Reed • William Callier• Emmett Smith • Gatrell Jordan, Jr. •Robert Ware.
Atlanta's First African-American Female Firefighters: Lisa Bradley • Shella Calloway • Louvenia Jenkins • Janice Jones • Sheila Kirkland • Emma C. Morris • Liz R. Summers.
Dedicated by council member Michael Julian Bond, Post 1 At-Large and Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department chief Kelvin Cochran April 1, 2013