In this WSB newsfilm clip from Crawfordville, Taliaferro County, Georgia, on October 1, 1965, African American high school students protest continued segregation of local schools following the transfer of all white students from the local school to schools in neighboring counties; and in Warrenton, Warren County, Georgia, white students enter the school and African American students are prevented from doing so by state highway patrolmen.
The clip begins on a wet day in Crawfordville, Taliaferro County, near the location where white children gather to board the buses to schools in neighboring counties. State highway patrolmen stand in clusters; many are wearing dark rain coats. A couple of patrolmen stand at the corner and direct traffic. Cars driving white students to the bus stop are allowed to stop and let the children out before they are directed to turn the corner and drive down a perpendicular street. The patrolmen directing traffic open the car doors for the children to get out. White children stand on a porch to avoid the rain as they wait together for the bus. When a school bus approaches the patrolmen at the intersection, the police move out of the way to let the bus continue straight down the street. At later points, students board the bus, and other students peer through the bus windows. At one point, an off-screen voice appears to speak to the cameraman, commenting on the news crews driving back and forth from Atlanta every day and expressing a desire not to participate in violence. Another comment is recorded when students are boarding the bus and one student expresses his displeasure with the camera filming the scene. Several patrolmen stand together and keep a group of African American students away from the bus and the boarding area. The African American students begin clapping and chanting, "Freedom now!"
After a break in the clip two buses with their headlights on are seen behind a patrol car. The patrol car pulls forward, and the buses pull away. Later three buses drive down the street. Patrolmen in rain coats appear to stand near someone who is on the ground. The group moves, and the African American protesters get up and walk away towards a car parked along a dirt road. White parents are seen standing in groups on grass along the side of the road. The clip jumps to Warrenton High School in Warren County. For a few moments as the camera focuses on the high school and buses driving towards the school, the clip is washed out. When the image quality returns, cars are seen parked along the road in front of the school and driving down the school. Patrolmen direct traffic and speak to drivers through car windows. At one point a patrolman slams the door of a car before the driver is able to get out of the car. African Americans get out of some of the cars that are parked along the side of the road. A patrolman asks a driver to move on and later asks a group of African Americans for their cooperation.
The clip ends with an exchange between an African American student and a patrolman. The student, Frank Fay, answering the patrolman's questions, explains that he attends a Freedom School this year but last year attended Murden High School in Crawfordville. He expresses his desire to register for school at Warrenton High School. The patrolman forcefully reviews that he told the students the previous day what they had to do to be able to register for school. The students, he continues, cannot register for classes today for the same reasons they could not register the day before. He suggests the students return to their cars and go home. When the students ask why they have to attend "a segregated school and get a second-class education" the patrolman replies that the students need to take the issue to the courts. He asserts that he is going to "keep law and order in Warren County this morning."
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 the chance for the 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.
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Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of African American high school students protesting continued segregation of local schools following the transfer of all white students in the county to schools in neighboring counties, Crawfordville, Taliaferro County, Georgia; also African American students prevented from entering the school in Warrenton, Warren County, Georgia, 1965 October 1, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1039, 00:00/11:38, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.