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RIP Athens Civil Rights Leader A.R. Killian

Killian in 2013.

The Rev. Archibald “A.R.” Killian, Athens’ first black police officer and an outspoken local civil rights leader for decades, died Tuesday at age 83.

Killian was born in Athens and served as a military policeman during the Korean War. After leaving the Air Force, he nearly took a job as a police officer in Los Angeles but returned to Athens instead.

When Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter integrated the University of Georgia in 1961, Killian let Holmes live in his house and protected him from white mobs.

In 1962, he and his cousin Donald Moon—who was murdered a year later—were hired as Athens’ first African American police officers. Killian turned in his badge a few times rather than arrest black civil-rights protesters, and he quit the force for good in 1966.

The police station on Baxter Street was named for Killian and Moon in 2013.

After his law enforcement career ended, Killian was a mailman and owned a nightclub, where he sometimes clashed with racist white officers who tried to shut it down. 

For 20 years he was the pastor of St. Mark AME Church, which was at the center of protests against police after officers killed Edward Wright, an unarmed black man, in 1995.

Killian also hosted a talk-radio show on WXAG 1470 AM.