In this WSB newsfilm clip from August 4, 1965, Sumter County attorney Warren Fortson, Georgia Governor Carl Sanders, and two unidentified individuals present their opinions regarding recent racial conflicts in Americus, Sumter County, Georgia.
The clip begins with Warren Fortson speaking about the possibility of establishing a biracial committee to discuss racial problems in Americus; he states his belief that the community will only be able to reduce racial tension "by sitting down with a committee of white people and a committee of Negroes." Although the creation of a biracial committee was one of the demands of the Sumter County Movement (the local civil rights organization), Americus city officials repeatedly refused to create such a body. In light of the city's failure to cooperate, Fortson eventually organized an independent biracial committee; however, city officials refused to recognize it. After a break in the clip, an unidentified Americus official states that racial problems should be worked out by elected officials and not private citizens; he emphasizes that if the city council does not "represent the sentiment of the people of Sumter County, then the ballot box is the place to solve it." Next, Georgia governor Carl Sanders reports that he has urged the city council to work with local African Americans to "seek a workable solution to this very serious problem." After this, Warren Fortson again speaks to the reporter. He explains that the Sumter County Movement's demand to void the results of the special election held July 20 (in which four African American women were arrested for standing in the "white" line) is something that must be handled by the county government. When asked about the Movement's demands for better job opportunities, Fortson agrees that community involvement can and will work out economic concerns, and states that local merchants who might be inclined to meet Movement demands are discouraged from doing so because they fear retaliation. Finally, the clip ends with an unidentified white woman speaking to reporters. The woman speaks of "very serious charges" that have been made against Warren Fortson. She explains that she knows Fortson personally and because of her high regard for him asked that nothing be done at the present time. She compares the tactics used against Fortson to those used in Nazi Germany.
After sporadic demonstrations between 1963 and 1965, the aforementioned arrest of four African American women at the special election sparked demonstrations that targeted government, business, and religious institutions, and were increased in frequency to three demonstrations per day. Protests led by the Sumter County Movement leaders ended August 13; efforts to create a biracial negotiating committee did not succeed. By October 1965, Warren Fortson and his family had been pressured into leaving Americus because of his involvement in creating a biracial committee.
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.
|Rights and Usage:|
Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of comments made by Sumter County attorney Warren Fortson, Georgia Governor Carl Sanders, and two other unidentified people regarding recent racial conflicts in Americus, Georgia, 1965 August 4, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1305, 51:48/56:03, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.