Reporter: Brokaw, Tom.
In this silent WSB newsfilm clip from August 1, 1965, African Americans demonstrate against segregation and unsuccessfully attempt to integrate First Baptist Church and First Methodist Church in Americus, Georgia. The clip begins with a mixed race crowd that appears to be on the verge of fighting surrounding police officers in front of a grocery store. Two men in suits appear to watch events in front of the Farr Appliance Company store. Next, a group of African Americans march in downtown Americus; they follow a car while flanked by law enforcement officers. A man in a white shirt speaks to an officer; afterward, two officers lead a white man away from a crowd. Later, images of the attempted integration of First Baptist Church and First Methodist Church are interspersed with each other. At First Baptist Church, a group of white people line up on the steps of the church. The group attempting to integrate the church stands with their backs to the camera; a white man speaks to them and appears to point toward the church before the group walks away. When the pro-integration group approaches First Methodist Church, they find a line of white parishioners blocking access at the top of the church stairs; the pro-integration group chooses to kneel and pray at the bottom of the stairs. Tom Brokaw and another white man also appear in the clip, and police officers direct traffic. On August 1, 1965, two six-person groups tried to integrate the two churches. The groups were turned away twice at First Baptist Church and once at First Methodist Church. The following week, August 8, sixteen civil rights workers including John Lewis also attempted to integrate the churches and were arrested. Finally, images of the march seen earlier in the clip include a young African American man speaking to the gathered crowd. After sporadic civil rights demonstrations between 1963 and 1965, the Sumter County Movement, assisted by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), stepped up demonstrations after the July 20, 1965 arrest of four African American women for standing in the "white" line during a county election. Demonstrations between July 20 and August 13, 1965 included marches, protests at the Sumter County Courthouse, economic boycotts, and attempts to integrate local churches. According to a New York Times article, integrated groups were turned away from First Baptist and First Methodist churches earlier in the year as well, although Americus Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and Presbyterian churches were all successfully integrated.
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.