In this WSB newsfilm clip from October 2, 1965, state senator Leroy Johnson speaks at a press conference in Atlanta, Georgia about visiting Crawfordville, Taliaferro County on a fact-finding mission with African American leaders from around the state.
The clip begins with a press conference during which Georgia State Senator Leroy Johnson sits at a table with microphones in front of him. Senator Johnson repeats reports that African Americans in Crawfordville are being fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, and targeted for police brutality, because civil rights demonstrations took place in the city. He explains that he has been invited to visit Crawfordville and, recognizing the importance of the situation, has invited African American leaders from communities around Georgia to go to Crawfordville with him on a fact-finding mission. In newspaper reports of the press conference, Johnson promises to report the findings of the visit "to the proper authorities."
Crawfordville, Taliaferro County, Georgia, a small community with a majority of the population African Americans, 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 its refusal, members of the African American community asserted it was because of the civil rights activities of the teachers. The teachers had advocated the chance for African American students to use the only gym in the county, located at the white high school. 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 transfered 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 where school buses picked up white students to transport them 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.
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Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of a press conference where state senator Leroy Johnson speaks about an upcoming fact-finding mission to Crawfordville, Georgia, from Atlanta, Georgia, 1965 October 2, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0939, 00:00/49, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.