In this WSB newsfilm clip from a press conference held in Atlanta, Georgia on October 24, 1960, mayor William B. Hartsfield speaks to reporters about recent civil rights demonstrations and the October 19 arrest of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The clip begins with mayor William B. Hartsfield explaining to reporters that he anticipates the city will receive only a few critical responses to its handling of civil rights demonstrators' arrests. Critical responses, mayor Hartsfield continues, most often come from people unaware of the potential national and international impact of sit-ins and arrests. Mayor Hartsfield's response to a question about interaction with the governor about the situation is not recorded. He explains that officials at Rich's Department store, where King was arrested, told county prosecuting officials they did not want to prosecute King. The answer to another reporter's question is not recorded, and mayor Hartsfield is next seen in a silent portion of the clip, sitting at his desk. After the silent portion, mayor Hartsfield reports that he has begun working with downtown merchants to resolve the racial conflict, alluding to a thirty-day truce. Civil rights leaders agreed to stop demonstrations and community leaders agreed to release the twenty-three demonstrators who had been arrested on city-owned land. The truce did not cover thirty-nine demonstrators who were arrested on county-owned land, including King. Hartsfield indicates that while he has not communicated with Dr. King's brother, A. D. King, about Dr. King's release from jail and the demonstrations, he still hopes for a friendly settlement. The clip records a portion of a reporter's question about inquiries about King and the demonstrations made by individuals such as Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy to the governor and others. Hartsfield indicates Kennedy is interested in a "friendly solution to the matter," an interest he views "in perfectly good taste and good order"; Hartsfield does not say who from Kennedy's national headquarters spoke with him. When asked to expand on negotiations with white business leaders, Hartsfield reports that he has started conferences with individual leaders and so far is pleased with preliminary negotiations. However he also recognizes the challenges of working with chain stores with "out-of-town connections." Student-led civil rights demonstrations in Atlanta began in March 1960, inspired by the Greensboro sit-ins the month before. The Committee on Appeal for Human Rights (COAHR), an organization of students from the historically African American Atlanta University Center, began their "fall campaign" against segregation on October 19 by targeting several downtown stores, including Rich's. Members of the Atlanta-based Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) were also involved in planning and demonstrating. Protests continued until Saturday, October 22 when mayor Hartsfield announced the month-long truce mentioned above. While Hartsfield and others worked to reach a desegregation agreement, talks broke down and civil rights workers began demonstrations again the day after Thanksgiving, November 25.
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 mayor William B. Hartsfield speaking to reporters about recent civil rights demonstrations and the arrest of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia, 1960 October 24, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0962, 45:39/53:08, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.