Reporter: Horner, Dick.
In this WSB newsfilm clip from Atlanta, Georgia, August 6, 1973, Hosea Williams addresses a crowd picketing outside a building, differentiates grassroots and direct action activism from civil rights-related negotiations administered by more moderate civil rights organizations, and aligns his ongoing efforts with the work of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The clip begins with several silent shots. First, an elderly African American gentleman sits and leans up against a pair of crutches. This is followed by several shots of busy city sidewalks and crosswalks populated mostly by African Americans. Next, Hosea Williams, the executive director of the DeKalb/Metro-Atlanta branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) speaks into press microphones amidst a crowd of picketers, reporters, and cameramen. He is standing at the entrance of a building, and is wearing a handwritten protest sign hung around his neck (it is not fully legible, but includes the words "Metro-DeKalb SCLC"); an African American cameraman is filming events with a camera wrapped in clear plastic to protect it from the rain. It is not clear what building is being picketed. Two Atlanta police department station wagons are shown parked along the curb; next, a group of protesters carrying umbrellas walk along the sidewalk in the rain; they are wearing signs around their necks (the text on the signs is not legible).
The next shot begins with sound. Hosea Williams is seated behind a desk. Speaking to reporter Dick Horner, Williams describes the civil rights advocacy process as he sees it. He explains that, in order for organizations such as the National Urban League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the YMCA to be able to effectively negotiate civil rights causes "at the table," there must be enough pressure created by a social demand for change. This pressure, Williams states, can only be cultivated through direct action in the street, which Williams generates by leading marches and demonstrations; he notes that "power is never relinquished; it is always taken." After direct action efforts successfully elevate the social pressure necessary to engage government officials and business leaders; these leaders will in turn negotiate with members of the aforementioned civil rights organizations and ultimately respond to demands. Williams asserts that his activism is consistent with the efforts led by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom he acknowledges as his teacher; he points out that "Dr. King was out in the street. He taught me what I am doing." Williams emphasizes that he is continuing King's work.
The last shot in the clip is silent; it is taken from behind Hosea Williams' desk. The back of Williams' head is shown as he continues to speak and gesture with his hands. Reporter Dick Horner is seated at the opposite side of Williams' desk, holding a microphone. The shot ends as the camera zooms in on Horner.
In 1973, Hosea Williams, executive director of the DeKalb/Metro-Atlanta branch of SCLC, participated in more than nineteen strikes throughout the city of Atlanta, either as a strike coordinator, or as a consultant for others who sought his experience in handling labor disputes. The previous year, Williams founded the Poor People's Union of America to further combat racial discrimination and unfair labor practices in Atlanta-area businesses, and to help secure job stability, pensions, and health care benefits for Atlanta's working poor. By continuing to direct public attention to economic and labor disparities through nonviolent direct action, Williams upheld the late Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy by continuing the anti-poverty work that King had committed to at the end of his life.
Title supplied by cataloger.
The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital conversion and description of the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection.
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Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of civil rights activist Hosea Williams addressing a crowd of picketers and conducting an interview with Dick Horner regarding civil rights advocacy and negotiation, Atlanta, Georgia, 1973 August 6, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1957, 25:25/27:07, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.