In this WSB newsfilm clip from July 29, 1965, Georgia segregationist and gubernatorial candidate Lester Maddox speaks to a white crowd in Americus, Georgia. The clip begins with an African American man, possibly incarcerated, being led by a white man. Two African Americans, Eddie James Lamar and Charlie Lee Hopkins, were arrested following the July 28 shooting death of 21-year-old white Americus resident Andrew Whatley. Following a break in the clip, unidentified buildings appear, as do Georgia patrol cars and state troopers. Next, Maddox speaks to a crowd gathered in an Americus recreation facility. He explains that he is in Americus on a "mission of peace." He calls for the restoration of states' rights, exclaiming, "We are going to get them like George Wallace in the White House and save this great land!" Maddox urges the crowd to make their feelings known "at the voting booths and with your dollar." Maddox, who says, "I belong here in Georgia," challenges those who criticize his presence in Americus as an "outsider" and condemns them for not being equally critical of the nonresident African Americans who have come to support the civil rights movement in Americus. Maddox also disparages the media for what he sees as inconsistency; he expresses appreciation for media presence at the rally and for fairness and kindness in the past, but then faults them for calling his wife while she is recuperating in the hospital. "I'm proud to be called a segregationist," he says, "but I challenge the news media to call 'Light bulb' Johnson, or [Atlanta mayor] Ivan Allen, or 'No not one' Vandiver an integrationist. That's what they are, every one of them." Maddox here refers to President Lyndon Johnson and Georgia governor Ernest Vandiver. He blames President Johnson, [editor and publisher of the Atlanta Constitution] Ralph McGill, and "the communists" for conspiring "to bring about this great tragedy that has taken place in Americus, Georgia." Racial tensions in Americus, which had been building since the July 20 arrest of four African American women for standing in a "white" line during an election, boiled over on July 28. On July 28, Andrew Whatley, a 21-year-old white marine recruit was shot to death from a passing car occupied by two African American men. Whatley had been standing near a crowd of whites, some of whom were throwing rocks at black drivers as they passed. Maddox also denounces "cowardly" businessmen for valuing business more than standing up for their beliefs. Maddox closed his Atlanta restaurant chain the Pickrick rather than desegregate.
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 Lester Maddox promoting states' rights and segregation as he speaks to a white audience in Americus, Georgia, 1965 July 29, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1306, 7:51/14:34, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.