In this WSB newsfilm clip from Jacksonville, Florida on March 20, 1960, Florida governor LeRoy Collins speaks at a press conference about the African American sit-in campaign against segregated lunch counters.
The clip begins with governor LeRoy Collins standing in front of a curtain, apparently speaking to reporters at a news conference. Collins recognizes that some African Americans resent store managers who seek their business and then discriminate against by refusing to let them use the lunch counters. Collins asserts that while moral sensibilities reject such arrangements, no legal rights are violated through such behavior. Continuing, he claims that "our private enterprise system and our laws give to the management of the private business the discretion to so discriminate if he wants to." After a break in the clip, Collins emphasizes that lunch counter sit-ins "are illegal and the full, proper force of the law must be used to stop them when this becomes necessary."
Florida governor LeRoy Collins served from 1954 until 1960 and was styled as a leading moderate in the South on desegregation problems. After several Florida cities experienced African American sit-in demonstrations at variety store lunch counters, Collins held a press conference to address the situation. According to newspaper reports, in a prepared document distributed before the press conference, Collins suggested that proprietors ought to close lunch counters if they cannot serve white and African American clients. He also announced the formation of a state bi-racial advisory committee and suggested Florida communities create similar committees, even if there had not yet experienced any sit-ins in the city.
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.