Reporter: Brokaw, Tom.
In this compilation WSB newsfilm clip from Americus, Georgia, on July 29, 1965, segregationist gubernatorial candidate Lester Maddox speaks to a white audience; WSB newsman Tom Brokaw interviews Americus mayor T. Griffin Walker; and African Americans protest segregation. The clip begins with Georgia State Highway patrolmen in raincoats standing under a tree and watching a group of students, primarily African American, as they demonstrate by singing and dancing in the rain. Next, African Americans lead a white student wearing a blood-stained shirt from a building as he holds a rag to his mouth (possibly Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) member Ralph Allen). As he gets in a car driven by an African American student, a large tear in his shirt becomes visible. After a break in the clip, a white crowd gathered in a recreation facility listens to Atlanta-based segregationist and gubernatorial candidate Lester Maddox. Maddox outlines his priorities, which include private property rights, states' rights in constitutional government, and "to run the 'renegades' out of high places in the state of Georgia and in the nation's capital." Next, state troopers stand around patrol cars in a parking lot, after which Mayor Walker answers reporter Tom Brokaw's question about a possible curfew. Although Walker explains that the city council does not feel the current racial situation requires a curfew, he does ask all citizens to refrain from congregating in groups, and to avoid the streets at night. Following the exchange between Walker and Brokaw, African Americans march two-by-two, as they carry picket signs with the following slogans: "I don't want to keep my money but you are keeping my rights;" "Help us to destroy the walls of segregation;" "Until Negroes are free, let's not buy in Americus;" and "We have an illegal justice of the peace." The last sign refers to a disagreement over a special election for Justice of the Peace held July 20 in which four African American women, including Mary Kate Bell, a candidate for the office, were arrested for standing in the "white" line. Four white women and a white man stand near the Sumter County Courthouse and watch the demonstrators; troopers also watch the protesters as they march down the street. The protesters gather around a car and listen to Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) worker Willie Bolden, as he expresses sympathy for Andrew Whatley, a twenty-one-year-old white Americus native who was killed on July 28 by a shot from a car driven by African Americans. Bolden also expresses concern about the continuing violence and racial tension in Americus; he informs his audience and the city council of scheduled demonstrations later in the day at 6 pm and at 10 pm, the latter of which will last all night. Next, Mary Kate Bell, Gloria Wise, Lena Turner, and Mamie Campbell, the women arrested for trying to integrate the election on July 20, sit in a room and appear to answer questions. Mary Kate Bell was the first African American woman candidate in a Sumter County election. On July 30, federal judge W. A. Bootle ordered the release of the four women and the termination of segregated elections in Sumter County. Finally, officers watch as demonstrators in a protest march follow behind three cars. They walk beside the marchers as they go down the street, past a Kwik-Chek store, and the Sumter County Courthouse. The clip ends with a repeat of scenes from a mass meeting held at Shiloh Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, where members of the crowd clap their hands and chant "Freedom!" [clip 41649]
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: wsbn41882