In this WSB newsfilm clip from Birmingham, Alabama, July 16, 1963, city mayor Albert Boutwell encourages Birmingham's new biracial committee to look to the city's future while outside white segregationists picket the meeting.
The clip begins with a group of white men inside a city hall corridor holding signs with the slogans, "Birmingham ... betrayed, not beaten. Back Governor Wallace--fight for segregation! Who is the Senior Citizens Committee? Young men's business club--way left!" and "Has Boutwell sold out to the minority group?" The signs refer to the Senior Citizens Committee, created by the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and which comprised of eighty-nine leading white men representing industry, manufacturing, and service in the community. The group was organized in August 1962 to address local race relations.
Next, in the council chamber room, a biracial audience listens as Mayor Boutwell speaks from the lectern. Boutwell reminds the audience of the city's accomplishment in changing its form of government, as well as the strain of recent political and racial conflict. He declares "the real concern of this city is the future" and implores his listeners to learn from the past.
Over 180 men attended the July 16 meeting where the Community Affairs Committee was created; about twenty-five men from the White Citizens Council and the Ku Klux Klan picketed outside the event. While civil rights leaders viewed the creation of the Community Affairs Committee as a promising first step, the committee was ultimately divided into three segregated subcommittees, two all-white, and one all-black.
Boutwell's reference to changing the city government refers to the April 2, 1963 runoff election in which Birmingham residents voted to replace the city commission with a mayor-council system of government. Ultimately, the effect of the election was to replace the strongly segregationist commissioners--Eugene "Bull" Connor, Arthur Hanes, and J. T. "Jabo" Waggoner--with a more moderate government led by Albert Boutwell. But through the spring of 1963, the commissioners refused to leave office pending an appeal of the election, which the Alabama Supreme Court upheld May 20, 1963.
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.
Local identification number: Clip number: wsbn33491