Between 1910 and 1960, Forsyth County's population experienced a net gain of only 230 people. But as de jure segregation faded away following the Civil Rights Act of 1964, white residents of Atlanta began moving to the suburbs in a process called “white flight.”
Growth in Forsyth County only accelerated with the extension of Georgia 400 in the 1970s. The multilane expressway made it easier for the county’s residents to commute to Atlanta, and more than 11,000 people moved to the county over the course of the decade. Although the population remained almost entirely white, many of the new residents were from other parts of the country and did not share the same racist beliefs that some locals held.
One new resident, a martial arts instructor named Charles Blackburn, wanted to organize a protest in January of 1987 to show that the county had overcome its prior racial intolerance. A flood of threats forced Blackburn to cancel the event (and eventually flee the county), but the march went on thanks to civil rights activist Hosea Williams and Dean Carter, a Gainesville resident.