In this WSB newsfilm clip from June 24, 1971, Georgia governor Jimmy Carter addresses a news conference, where he updates reporters on conditions in Columbus, Georgia, recently impacted by rioting; and several injured African American men demonstrate to the camera that they have been wounded.
The clip is divided into two parts. The first part begins at a press conference, where Governor Carter speaks to reporters from a series of microphones arranged at his desk. Carter announces that he has spoken to Colonel Ray Pope, director of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, who has appraised him of the situation in Columbus. He has been informed that nine fires broke out the previous night in Columbus; he notes that this number "sounds bad, but it's quite a reduction over previous nights." Pope has indicated to him that "the situation is obviously calming down," that talks have finally begun between "dissident groups" and Columbus community representatives, and that he "has every expectation that the major problem has finally been alleviated."
The second part of the clip is silent. Here, three young unidentified African American men have gathered in front of the camera, presumably to demonstrate that they have been injured. One man, on the left, has a bandaged head. Another man, on the right, is prompted to turn around by a pair of hands belonging to someone off-camera. He also appears to have a head wound. It is unclear if the man at the center of the shot has sustained any injuries.
During the summer of 1971, violence broke out in Columbus, Georgia, a response to a series of racially motivated suspensions and firings in the Columbus police department, and the city's subsequent failure to address the grievances of black police officers. To demonstrate support for Columbus' African American policemen, members of the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) helped organize several nonviolent protest activities in Columbus, including a march and rally that drew a crowd of five hundred people. Even though these events were peaceful, surmounting racial tension gave way to violence, and waves of looting, brick-throwing, and firebombing erupted throughout the city. Rioting escalated on June 21, 1971, when a white officer, L. A. Jacks, shot and killed a twenty-year old African American youth named Willie J. Osborne after an alleged armed robbery. Arson attacks and riots continued for days, prompting the Columbus City Council to invoke an emergency ordinance, and Columbus mayor J. R. Allen to declare a citywide state of emergency, which included the imposition of an evening curfew, and the cessation of liquor and firearms sales. State involvement in the crisis, under the authority of Governor Carter, included the dispatch of riot-trained Georgia state patrolmen to Columbus and a request to Governor George Wallace of Alabama to halt liquor sales in neighboring Phenix City.
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 governor Jimmy Carter commenting on recent racial unrest in Columbus, Georgia, 1971 June 24, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1598, 49:00/49:28, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.