In this WSB newsfilm clip from Danville, Virginia, June 13, 1963, Danville mayor Julian R. Stinson speaks with Reverend Lendell W. Chase, head of the High Street Baptist Church and president of the Danville Christian Progressive Association, asking him to get the demonstrating African Americans off the street and arranging a biracial meeting for the following day.
The clip, filmed at night, begins with several men standing together in the dark. An unseen Mayor Julian R. Stinson speaks to Reverend Lendell W. Chase, leader of the African American group of demonstrators, and urges Chase to get his people out of the area by 11:30 pm. Chase interrupts the mayor briefly to report that the demonstrators have all left. Stinson continues, calling the situation "out of hand" and suggesting that if Chase wants to be helpful he will send the demonstrators home because the city cannot be responsible for their safety. Chase again tries to interrupt the mayor, asking for a meeting the next day. Stinson agrees to a meeting at 10:00 am the following day, warning Chase that the number of African Americans who come to the meeting must be small and must not include anyone indicted by the local court or "other criminals." Mayor Stinson promises to provide Chase with a list of "criminals" who will not be welcome at the conference. He condemns Chase and the African American demonstrators for hurting the image of Danville and local business, and warns that it will reflect unfavorably on the African Americans. Chase again tries to speak to the mayor but is unable to do so.
Civil rights demonstrations in Danville, Virginia, a community of nearly fifty thousand of which a third were African American, began on May 31, 1963. Local African American civil rights leaders had tried negotiating with city officials the year before without success. Although demonstrations were at first peaceful, local judge Archibald M. Aiken issued an injunction banning further racial demonstrations in the city. After Aiken issued the injunction, policemen began arresting demonstrators, and on June 8, three African American leaders were arrested and indicted on charges of "inciting the colored population to violence," a slavery-era law called "John Brown's Law." On June 10, city officials turned high-pressure fire hoses on a small group of demonstrators and then sent in police officers and deputized trash collectors who used night sticks on the demonstrators. Forty-seven protesters were taken to the hospital following the demonstration. Mayor Julian R. Stinson formed a Mayor's Racial Advisory Committee on June 12; the three-man committee was all white. The mayor also announced that he would not negotiate with African American leaders who had been arrested in the civil rights demonstrations, calling them "irresponsible" and "criminals." The following day, Reverend Lendell W. Chase, who had not previously been involved in demonstrations in Danville, led over two hundred fifty demonstrators to the Municipal Building where they announced they would remain until they could meet with Mayor Stinson. Unfortunately, the mayor was out of town meeting the Virginia governor Albertis S. Harrison; when Mayor Stinson returned to Danville he announced the city would no longer permit a double standard for white and African American citizens seeking to demonstrate and authorized the police to use high-pressured fire hoses to disperse the crowd. He agreed to meet with a delegation of no more than ten African Americans the following morning, stressing that he would not meet with "criminals," defined as those who had been arrested in the demonstrations. The following day, seven African American leaders met with Mayor Stinson in an unproductive meeting; following the meeting, the city council passed an ordinance severely limiting demonstrations in the community. While demonstrations and court cases continued off-and-on throughout the summer, it was not until October that the city appointed its first African American fireman and not until November that the city agreed to a nondiscriminatory hiring policy.
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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: wsbn36357