In this WSB newsfilm clip from Atlanta, Georgia on March 16, 1965, civil rights demonstrators march from Ebenezer Baptist Church and from Atlanta University Center to the federal courthouse to protest alleged police brutality in Selma, Alabama. The clip is frequently dark, and the audio is inconsistent. A group of demonstrators including African Americans, white citizens, and nuns in religious habits appear to line up behind someone carrying an American flag; many of the demonstrators carry picket signs. Picket sign slogans throughout the march include "Let's make [President] Johnson's words reality," "Jim Clark [Dallas County, Alabama sheriff] must go!" "One man one vote"; "Stop police killings"; "Gas is Nazism," and "State Police don't beat registered voters." A man stands in front of a banner for the "Metropolitan Atlanta Civil Council"; later another man uses a microphone attached to a car to read from a text, and afterwards the demonstrators begin to march. Cars appear to follow the protesters who walk on the road's median, and people stand on the overpass above the demonstration. A few demonstrators carry a banner with the phrase "Atlanta U Students are here." A small amount of protesters wear armbands with an "M" on them, possibly signifying that they are marshals for the demonstration. Another banner has the slogan "St. Martin's Human Relations Council." St. Martin's was the archdiocese in Atlanta. The demonstration had two branches, one leaving from the Atlanta University Center and the other from Ebenezer Baptist Church. Both meet at the federal courthouse downtown. After the march reaches downtown, the demonstrators march near the federal courthouse, and spectators watch from across the street. A white man in a convertible appears to wait for the demonstration to cross the street so he can continue driving. More observers watch from the open windows of a tall building. White reporters and two African American men, one holding an envelope, stand together away from the crowd. The marchers seem to gather in an alley beside the federal courthouse where Martin Luther King, Sr. appears to pray, and the crowd sways and links their hands. According to a report in the Atlanta Journal, King urged the marchers to be grateful the demonstration occurred without incident. Interspersed with scenes of the crowd in the alley an African American man walks in front of a crowd on the sidewalk with several signs including "Jesus says we must be born again," "Prepare to meet thy God," and "Repent or live in hell." Audio portions within the clip record the demonstrators clapping, chanting, exclaiming "Freedom!" and singing "We shall overcome" and "Everybody wants freedom" while horns honk. Women with children in strollers and clergy also participate in the demonstration. The crowd stands in front of another building, and Julian Bond, former head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, walks through the crowd. The camera focuses on the interracial group as they sing, sway, and hold hands. The clip ends with a sign for the Clark Howell School, and white men and women sit in a room. Civil rights protests focusing on African American voting rights in Selma, Dallas County, Alabama began early in 1965 as part of a larger campaign in Alabama's "Black Belt." On February 18, 1965 eighteen-year-old civil rights worker Jimmy Lee Jackson was shot in Marion, Alabama following a voter registration demonstration. He died of his wounds on February 26. On March 4 the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. announced a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, about fifty miles away, to honor Jackson and to petition for fairer voting laws. In response, Governor George Wallace on March 7 proclaimed he would not let the demonstrators march and ordered Al Lingo, director of the state highway patrol, to prevent the march. On Sunday, March 8 state police violently prevented demonstrators from leaving Selma for Montgomery. In Atlanta, Georgia, students from the historically African American Atlanta University Center picketed the federal courthouse in sympathy to the civil rights workers in Selma and asked for sheriff Jim Clark's arrest as well as federal troops to protect civil rights workers. On March 16 in Atlanta a crowd of between one thousand and three thousand marched downtown again seeking action in Selma from the federal government. President Lyndon B. Johnson federalized the Alabama National Guard March 20 to protect marchers because governor Wallace claimed he was "willing but unable to pay." The march reached Montgomery March 24.
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 an Atlanta civil rights march protesting alleged police brutality in Selma, Alabama, Atlanta, Georgia, 1965 March 16, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1250, 41:02/57:02, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.