In this WSB newsfilm clip from Atlanta, Georgia on December 15, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks at an outdoor rally about freedom and the civil rights movement in Atlanta. Several breaks interrupt the clip; some comments may not be recorded completely.
The clip begins with Dr. King, who is seen in profile, speaking to the audience at a rally where his breath can be seen in the cold. King reminds the audience of the timeless nature of freedom's struggle and "the urgency of now." He seeks to dispel several myths that work against the goals of the civil rights movement, including that the time is not right or that African Americans are not ready for freedom. Furthering his point, he quotes Old Testament prophet Amos and statesman Thomas Jefferson. King asserts that "the problems of Atlanta will not work themselves out." He also declares that the oppressed must demand freedom by "revolt[ing] peacefully, openly, and cheerfully" with the goal of "a community at peace with itself." King compares freedom to food and life; while a bit of bread may satisfy hunger, both freedom and life must be had completely or not at all. He emphasizes the link between freedom and the nation and proclaims that African Americans, who had been undaunted by the hardships of slavery, will achieve freedom one day. He states that "both God's will and the heritage of our nation speak through our echoing demands." Dr. King calls for Atlanta, known by the sobriquet "the city too busy to hate," to narrow "the gulf between Atlanta's profession and Atlanta's practice." He says that Atlanta must begin working towards freedom for its citizens, because the time is coming when the superficial remedies of the past will no longer suffice. King calls upon listeners to show they are willing to achieve freedom through suffering, jail-going, and risking their lives if necessary.
In March 1960, students from the six historically African American schools that would make up the Atlanta University Center published "An Appeal for Human Rights" and began organizing sit-ins and other demonstrations. In October 1963, nine civil rights groups in Atlanta organized the Atlanta Summit Leadership Conference to focus on complete desegregation of public accommodations, employment, education, health, housing, law enforcement, and electoral politics. The Summit Leadership Conference organized the December 15 rally to protest segregation in the city and hoped to replicate the success of August's "March on Washington" by gathering ten thousand participants from congregations around the city. Unseasonably cold weather limited the number of participants to only three thousand.
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 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking about freedom and the civil rights movement at an outdoor rally held in Atlanta, Georgia, 1963 December 15, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0865, 39:07/45:35, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.