Meet Tom Houck
Expelled from high school in 1965 for marching in the Selma – Montgomery march, Tom committed himself to the Civil Rights movement. From 1965-1971 Houck worked with the NAACP, SCLC and VEP in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Washington DC, New York and Chicago. During this time Houck was arrested on numerous occasions while participating in non-violent civil disobedient demonstrations to secure civil and voting rights for all Americans. In 1966 he filed suit against Jefferson County, Alabama jails resulting in a landmark US Supreme Court decision desegregating prisons across America.
From 1966 until his assassination in 1968 Tom was an aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During this time he served as a driver and personal assistant to Dr. King and his family. Houck also became the youngest member of the SCLC executive staff working with organizations to end the Vietnam War and mobilizing for the “Poor People Campaign”. Houck helped organize Hispanics, Asians, Native American and poor whites for the long crusade across America culminating in the first truly rainbow community at “Resurrection City” on the Mall in Washington, DC. He was a speaker representing poor whites at the kick off of the Poor Peoples campaign in Memphis.
In 1968 and 1969 as a member of the SCLC staff, Tom participated in organizing anti war campaigns in DC and Atlanta, get out the vote efforts in New York and Georgia, the hospital workers strike in Charleston, SC.
From 1970 until 1972 Houck worked as field director for The Voter Education Project (VEP) and with John Lewis and Julian Bond – mobilizing, registering and encourage minority voter’s participation across 11 southern states of the old Confederacy. During this time the number of Black elected officials increased 100 fold. He also lobbied extensively for the historic passage of the 26th Amendment, granting 18 year olds the right to vote.
In 1972 as a result of his efforts in lowering of the voting rights age, he was named deputy director of the Washington based Youth Citizenship Fund, heading up efforts to maximize first time 18-21 year old voter registration/education in 26 states.
Returning to Georgia in 1973 Houck has worked extensively on various political campaigns including Andrew Young successful bid for Congress, Maynard Jackson’s election as Atlanta’s first black mayor and the campaigns of John Lewis and Zell Miller.
In 1977 his involvement in politics and long standing interest in journalism led to a new career in radio, TV and print journalism. For the next 25 years Houck was a presence in Atlanta and national media.
From 1980 until 1991 he hosted a radio show on Newsradio WGST. From 1981 until 2001,Houck was a regular panelist on Sunday News Conference and Georgia Gang on WSB TV and Fox 5. Houck was a contributor to “Atlanta Magazine” and from 1986 until 2001 a columnist for Creative Loafing.
Leaving journalism in the early 2000’s, Houck went on to start a public affairs company and maintained his strong passion for politics working with various local and state and national candidates.
A strong advocate for civil and human rights, over the last decade Houck has been in demand as a speaker, especially on the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Now, with a vast number of years of being a part of the Atlanta civil rights scene, I feel it’s time to share my knowledge with the public. Please join me on a 3 hour bus tour of famous moments, places and people who made Atlanta the hub of the Civil Rights movement.
I look forward to seeing you on the next tour. This new chapter in my life will allow me to share my Atlanta and it’s great people who make our town what it is today.