Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Clifford Kuhn, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Timothy Crimmins, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Katherine Hankins, Ph.D.


In response to the economic upsurges of World War II, leaders in Atlanta embarked on a planning mission to accommodate the increased demands of city living. From the onset of postwar planning with the Lochner Report in 1944, to the groundbreaking for the construction of the MARTA rapid rail lines in 1975, this project explores the contours of race and mobility through the lenses of transportation planning. It examines the city’s planning entities and dissects the plans produced by these authorities, underscoring the lack of African American participation in the planning process. As planning authorities operated in segregation, this research connects the lack of African American participation in transportation planning with limited participation in planning for other areas including housing and urban renewal. This project’s framework is constructed with a two-fold function of mobility: first, in the physical sense of movement about the expanding metropolitan landscape; secondly, and more essential, in the social sense, showcasing a process of uplift for the African American community in Atlanta.

This research illustrates an upward trajectory for African Americans over the three-decade timeline. From being denied equal access and full political rights in a segregated society, to the election of Georgia’s first black state senator of the 20th century and Atlanta’s first black mayor, this research vocalizes the struggles of Atlanta’s African American citizens in the fight for civil rights and full participation from the aspect of transportation planning. Using the city’s historic black newspapers filled with primary accounts of the period, this project tracks the discourse of the diverse African American community from the leadership and business elite to the working-class citizens participating in public hearings. From little to no participation in highway planning and construction through historic African American sections in the early phases, to positions of demand in the creation of the rapid transit system in the latter phases, this research shows the evolution of African American participation and influence in shaping planning processes in postwar Atlanta.