In this WSB newsfilm clip from July 31, 1965, T. Griffin Walker, mayor of Americus, Georgia, addresses the demands of the Sumter County Movement and urges an end to demonstrations and other protests at a press conference. The clip begins with Mayor Walker reviewing the United States District Court ruling issued the previous day, which orders the end of segregated elections and the release of four prisoners arrested for attempting to integrate a Sumter County election. Walker hopes the Movement will be satisfied with the court's actions, as they are not under the city's jurisdiction; he urges Movement members to halt demonstrations and suggests that the group take its other demands, including the hiring of African American voting registrars, to the courts. He explains that he and the city council met with three local African American leaders on Monday, July 26, but that the issues discussed at the meeting could not be resolved. He claims that he and the council will continue to consider issues brought to their attention; however, he suggests that the creation of a biracial committee, another demand of the Sumter County Movement, would remain ineffective as long as emotions run so high. Instead, he recommends ceasing demonstrations in order to encourage a cooling-off period; he emphasizes again that demonstrations do nothing "but to create additional strife and problems." Blaming outsiders for the current problems, Walker reaffirms that the city council will work directly with local citizens, both African American and white, to resolve "legitimate problems." Outside civil rights workers, including Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) members who first came to Americus early in 1963, helped organize the Sumter County Movement. Demonstrations were held sporadically from 1963 until 1965; on July 20 1965, police arrested four women for attempting to integrate voting lines in a county-held special election. Mary Fishe Bell, one of the women arrested, was the first female African American candidate in Sumter County. The Sumter County Movement began three-times-a-day demonstrations in response to the arrests and agreed to end demonstrations on August 13.
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 mayor T. Griffin Walker addressing the demands of the Sumter County Movement in Americus, Georgia, 1965 July 31, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1306, 4:56/07:49, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.