In this WSB newsfilm clip from March 16, 1964, an interracial group of demonstrators protests de facto school segregation in New York City, New York, and African American leaders Malcolm X and representative Adam Clayton Powell speak in favor of the school boycott.
The clip begins with an interracial group of demonstrators marching down a street holding picket signs. Slogans on the signs include, "Segregation can't teach democracy," "A good school for all children," "Jim Crow Donovan Must Go" and a Spanish phrase that may be translated to "Integration is a great education." The crowd chants "Jim Crow must go!" The clip goes silent for a few moments during the march and later as African American students bundled in warm clothes walk past a fence and into a building. Sound resumes, and women enter the same building. Later, a crowd stands in front of another building, many holding picket signs.
After the demonstration, a reporter interviews Malcolm X, who says he has come to see segregation exposed in the New York City school system, proving "you don't have to go to Mississippi to find a segregated school system." He goes on to explain that he supports the boycott because it shows that some of the problems for which the South has been condemned also exist in New York.
Next, the reporter interviews to Adam Clayton Powell, minister and member of the House of Representatives. Powell declares that the Urban League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Congress of Racial Equality have lost their influence on African Americans in New York. He claims that those organizations demonstrate their irrelevance by not coming supporting the school boycott and not coming to meetings about it. He claims that young African Americans will not "let Ivory Tower, big-name Negro leaders control them anymore." Powell suggests that the next moves are more demonstrations "until we make democracy work as it should work."
Although discussions of school integration had been taking place in New York City since 1954, attempts by the school board to integrate white, African American, and Puerto Rican schools were stymied by large-scale racial housing patterns and by white parents moving their children to private schools or to suburbs. The school board, reluctant to enforce mandatory busing, was unsuccessful in attempts to integrate schools with voluntary transfer programs. African American community leaders, led by Reverend Milton Galamison, worked with local chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) to organize a school boycott for February 13, 1964. That day, nearly forty-five percent of students stayed away from school. When the school board did not immediately respond to the boycott, Galamison organized a second boycott for March 16 and began demanding total, immediate desegregation of the schools with widespread forced busing. Leaders of the NAACP and CORE felt Galamison had not given the school board enough time to work out a solution and did not support the second boycott. In contrast, Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell, seen by some as more militant in their approach to civil rights, did support the boycott and Galamison's efforts to force the school board to act. Just over twenty-five percent of students stayed away from school during the second boycott on March 16, approximately half the amount of the first boycott.
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 demonstrators protesting against de facto school segregation and of African American leaders Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell speaking in favor of the school boycott in New York City, New York, 1964 March 16, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0802, 53:34/55:26, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.