In this WSB newsfilm clip from Crawfordville, Taliaferro County, Georgia on October 5, 1965, African American students protest continued school segregation at the bus stop for white students, at the county's former white school, and by holding a nighttime march.
The clip begins with a brief image of African American students sitting on the lawn in front of a building. Next, a Taliaferro County school bus drives down a street, and Georgia Highway Patrolmen watch the bus as it drives by. Other patrolmen surround a group of African American high school students who are protesting continued school segregation in the county. White students watch the patrolmen and African American students through the school bus window as it drives by. After eighty-eight African American students applied to transfer from the African American Murden High School to the white Alexander Stephens Institute as part of scheduled school desegregation, all of the white students from the county transferred to schools in neighboring counties, and the county school board closed the white school. All this was done without telling the African American students; by the time the African American students found out, school registration in neighboring counties had already closed. The African American students protested the transfers and avoidance of school desegregation by gathering every morning at the bus stop where white students boarded buses to travel to school in neighboring counties. The African American students were kept off the buses by Georgia Highway Patrolmen who were sent to Crawfordville to maintain law and order.
After a break in the clip, the camera again focuses on the African American students standing in a cluster surrounded by highway patrolmen. Later, the students still gather together as the patrolmen stand in a group with their backs to the students. One of the students wears a jacket with the slogan "Freedom S.C.L.C." written on the back; a patrolman wears a "Georgia State Patrol" patch on his shoulder. Next, white students get out of cars stopped at an intersection and walk toward the house being used as a bus stop. The white students pass patrolmen who stand in front of the African American students. At one point, the camera focuses again on the patrolmen. The image is fuzzy for a few moments. The clip breaks again, and the patrolmen continue to surround the African American students as the group moves around. Patrolmen also stand in front of students and appear to take notes or write tickets. One patrolman stands in front of an African American young man. He asks the boy his age and address. After this exchange, the patrolmen walk away, and the African American students walk the other direction towards cars parked along the side of the road. The students get into cars and drive away.
Next, the African American students march along the outside of the Alexander Stephens Institute, the white school the county closed that fall. The students sing, "Give me that old time religion" as they march. The students walk under an awning surrounding the building and then gather in front of the school. Someone directs the students to sit down outside the building. Later a man talks about the future of the school, warning that the county may continue to bus white children to surrounding counties and sell the building or tear it down. He then instructs the students to "get comfortable" and look at the books they brought or share with someone who brought a book. One girl reads an article in the Atlanta Constitution newspaper. African American students who had applied for transfer to the county's white school also protested the school's closing by refusing to attend Murden High School and holding a "Freedom School" under the direction of volunteers from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
Finally, the clip ends with silent scenes of a nighttime demonstration. African American demonstrators, including students, appear to listen to speakers and later appear to clap. A white patrolman in a helmet and a white man speak to the demonstrators at one point. An African American man wearing a jean jacket, possibly a member of SCLC delegation, also speaks to the crowd. A contingent of the SCLC spent time during the summer and fall of 1965 in Crawfordville under the direction of Hosea Williams as part of the SCOPE (Summer Community Organization and Political Education) project. They continued to try and help the African America community in Crawfordville throughout the demonstrations that fall. Later on, African Americans leave a building and head into the darkness. A white man speaks to an African American man who appears to be leading the demonstration. Two African American men stand together and listen to a radio. The demonstrators walk in the darkness and appear to be singing. Following a break in the clip the demonstrators, both African American and a few whites, march in the darkness; two young boys walk with a blanket over their shoulders. The clip ends with a patrolman directing the marchers.
Crawfordville, Taliaferro County, Georgia, a small predominantly African American community, began experiencing racial problems in the spring of 1965. That spring, the local school board refused to renew the contracts of six African American teachers. While the board did not give a reason for refusing to renew the contracts, members of the African American community asserted it was because of the civil rights activities of the teachers. The teachers had advocated for use of the only gym in the county, located at the white high school, by the county's African American students. Also that spring, eighty-eight African American students applied to transfer from the local African American school to the all-white Alexander Stephens Institute. Although the school was scheduled to desegregate that fall, all of the white students transferred from the Taliaferro County school to schools in surrounding counties. With no white students enrolled in the local school, the county school board closed the white school and sent all of the students who applied for transfer back to Murden High School, the African American high school. Unfortunately, the African American students were not told of these arrangements until after the registration period had passed for the schools in neighboring Greene, Wilkes, and Warren Counties. African American students protested the continued segregation by refusing to attend the local high school, establishing a Freedom School under the direction of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and holding demonstrations every morning at the central location from which white students were transported to schools in neighboring counties. Finally a federal court appointed state school superintendent Claude Purcell to administer the Taliaferro County schools. Purcell ordered schools in Greene, Wilkes, and Warren Counties to admit the African American students who had originally applied for school transfers in Taliaferro County. On November 17, 1965, African American students from Taliaferro County began riding the buses with white students to integrated schools in neighboring counties.
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.
|Rights and Usage:|
Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of African American students protesting continued school segregation in Crawfordville, Taliferro County, Georgia, 1965 October 5, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0251, 00:00/13:13, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.