Savannah's modern civil rights movement was charted by local African Americans and adhered to the principles of nonviolent protest. The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum is named in honor of the father of that movement.
The museum site was originally constructed in 1914 as an African American bank, with Lucius Williams as president. Robert Pharrow, an African American contractor from Atlanta, built the structure.
It later served as the Guaranty Insurance Company, with Walter Sanford Scott, a local black millionaire, as president, and as the Savannah office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).