In this WSB newsfilm clip from 1960, Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), to reporters at a press conference about the wave of sit-ins throughout the United States sparked by four North Carolina students.
The clip begins with Roy Wilkins sitting in a room with empty chairs facing cameras and lights; cameramen and reporters are seen behind the cameras. During a silent portion of the clip, Wilkins appears to speak. After the silent portion of the clip, Wilkins explains that the tactic of sitting at a lunch counter and waiting until being served did not begin with the February 1, 1960 event in Greensboro, North Carolina and claims that the NAACP originated sit-ins. He explains that local youth group NAACP chapters in Wichita, Kansas and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma conducted sit-ins in 1958 that led to desegregation. He also reminds the audience that in 1959 NAACP youth council members held sit-ins in Saint Louis. He concludes with another assertion that the NAACP originated the concept of sit-ins.
Although there is some dispute as to whether the idea of sit-ins began with the NAACP or with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), sit-ins were conducted with mixed results before 1960. Sit-ins in 1958 in Oklahoma and Kansas resulted in lunch counter integration; similar attempts in 1959 were unsuccessful in Miami and in Saint Louis, where stores removed the lunch counters. After the February 1, 1960 sit-in by four students at North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, young civil rights workers around the country began holding lunch counter sit-ins and demanding integrated service. This younger generation of civil rights workers responded enthusiastically to the nonviolent, direct action tactics embodied in the sit-ins. In response to the surge of student activism, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) hosted a student conference in April at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina; during this meeting, the participants formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). SNCC played a central roll in the Civil Rights movement for the next several years. By the fall of 1961, every Southern and border state had experienced sit-ins, with over one hundred communities effected and over seventy thousand individuals arrested throughout the country.
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 Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, clarifying the history of sit-ins as a direct action tactic at a press conference, 1960, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0735, 12:19/13:14, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.