In this clip dated June 12, 1967, H. Rap Brown, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), reads from a prepared press statement condemning recent racial violence against SNCC members in Prattville, Alabama, and responds to a question about the rumored death of former SNCC chairman Stokely Carmichael.
The clip is divided into two segments. In the first segment, H. Rap Brown, chairman of SNCC, speaks to a group of reporters in front of a warehouse in Atlanta. The first few seconds of the clip contain no audio. The audio begins with H. Rap Brown saying "foul play already. We don't know how accurate that is. We have a statement prepared here that I am going to read." Reading from the statement, Brown announces that "it appears as if Alabama has been chosen as the starting battleground for America's race war." Brown says that it is "both fitting and appropriate," for "next to America and its Vietnam action, Alabama polls highest in the death toll of black men." He continues by announcing "we will no longer sit back and let black people be killed by murderers who hide behind the sheet or who hide behind the badge of the law. It is clear that the law cannot and will not protect black people. This is no accident." Referring to an incident in Prattville, Alabama, where former SNCC director Stokely Carmichael was imprisoned and SNCC members, including SNCC executive secretary Stanley Wise, were trapped inside a house and shot at by Klansmen, Brown states "we recognize and accept yesterday's action by racist white America as a declaration of war. We feel that this is a part of America's Gestapo tactics to destroy SNCC as well as to commit genocide against black people. We are calling for full retaliation from the black community across America. We blame Lyndon Johnson."
He concludes his press statement with an appeal to African American servicemen in Vietnam "We extend a call for black brothers now serving in Vietnam to come home to the defense of their mothers and their families. This is their fight. We say to brothers in the armed forces: if you can die defending your motherlands, you can die defending your mothers." A reporter asks "What evidence do you have that Stokely has been killed?" Brown corrects the reporter, and says "I said that it has been rumored that Stokely Carmichael has met with foul play. We've obtained this through several sources, and we're not about to divulge the sources until we find out more about it." He announces that he will not be answering any more questions, directs reporters to a released press statement, and walks away from the camera. Several white news reporters remain gathered at the site of the press conference.
The second segment of the clip is silent, and shows alternate shots of Brown, surrounded by a group of mostly white reporters as he reads from his press statement into a series of hand-held press microphones. The camera captures these shots from several angles and distances. Next, a group of several young African American men and a woman guard the entrance to a doorway that leads up to a flight of stairs. They make way for a young African American woman to pass through. After conducting a conversation with someone off-camera, the African American woman standing with the young men guarding the doorway makes her way into the building, and up the flight of stairs. The clip ends with a shot of a WSB cameraman operating a television camera, labeled with "WSB News" and "2."
On June 11, 1967, Stokely Carmichael, the former director of SNCC, was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct by local police while working on a voter registration campaign in Prattville, Alabama. In protest of the arrest, a large group of African Americans demonstrated in front of the city jail, demanding Carmichael's release. Despite the protests, Carmichael remained imprisoned, and that evening, several homes housing African American voting rights activists were shot into by members of the Ku Klux Klan. SNCC executive secretary Stanley Wise, trapped inside of one of these houses by persistent gunfire, made several telephone calls to Atlanta's SNCC office that evening to request assistance and report that he heard Carmichael had been lynched. When SNCC members in Atlanta tried to confirm Carmichael's location with local authorities in Prattville that evening, they were rebuffed. The next morning, Wise and other SNCC volunteers were arrested and charged with inciting a riot. Alabama governor Lurleen Wallace authorized the state police and National Guard to enter Prattville and search the homes of African American civil rights leaders; those who resisted the searches were harassed and beaten. Still without confirmation on Carmichael's status, and lacking a robust campaign of organizers to dispatch to Prattville and counteract events there, SNCC authorized its new chairman H. Rap Brown to release a statement at a press conference in Atlanta. Carmichael, still alive, was held in the Autauga County jail until June 13, 1967. On the day of his release, Carmichael led a march in Montgomery to protest the events in Prattville.
Originally dated April 1, 1967. Further research of events in the clip determine that Brown delivered the press statement on June 12, 1967
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.
Local identification number: Clip number: wsbn51711