George Alexander Towns
Educator and civil rights activist, George Alexander Towns, was born on May 5, 1870 in Albany, Georgia. Towns was a quick learner and an avid reader who became interested in Atlanta University because one of his grade school teachers was an AU graduate. At age fifteen, Towns enrolled in Atlanta University, graduating in 1894, then earning a degee from Harvard in 1900. Towns immediately joined the faculty at Atlanta University, where he remained for over 30 years.
Towns was primarily a teacher in the Science and English departments, but also acted as a fundraiser, coach, club sponsor, and editor of the alumni magazine. Following his retirement from Atlanta University, Towns went to Fort Valley State College as an assistant to the president. He later became the acting president. He remained in that capacity until Fort Valley became a state school.
Besides his academic endeavors, Towns also worked diligently for civil rights. He was an active member of the NAACP and strongly encouraged black voter registration. He refused to accept segregation in public transportation, choosing to ride a bicycle to work instead. Even after his retirement from Atlanta University he continued to be an advocate for civil rights.
Towns was also a family man. He was the husband of Nellie McNair Towns and the father of four children, including Mrs. Grace Towns Hamilton, former Associate Superintendent for the Atlanta Urban League. He died in Atlanta on December 20, 1960 at the age of 91, just before his and so many others work was beginning to gain fruition.