In this WSB clip from March 30, 1971, Clarence Coleman, southeast regional director of the National Urban League, addresses a press conference held in Atlanta, Georgia, and reports the findings of a National Urban League study focusing on racial discrimination in Augusta, Georgia.
The clip begins with a silent shot of a biracial group of people gathered inside a conference room, where a press conference has been organized around a large table. At the head of the table are Clarence Coleman, an unidentified African American man and a white woman, seated in front of a row of microphones. Coleman, seated at the head and center of the table, acknowledges other attendees of the press conference by pointing to them as he speaks into a table microphone. A large banner with the National Urban League emblem hangs on the wall behind the table.
The next section of the clip contains sound. Here, Clarence Coleman addresses the press conference, reading from a prepared statement. Coleman reports that the major findings of a study on Augusta conducted by the National Urban League determine that Augusta and Richmond County, Georgia, "like nearly all similar political units in the United States," is "fundamentally a dual community" divided by race: affluent whites possesses the decisionmaking power for the entire population; African Americans, on the other hand, are poor, and lack the power to determine city policy, goals, or priorities.
Coleman notes that civil disturbances are a "sure way by which frustrated people can, at least temporarily, exert a rather commanding influence, negative though it may be, over the immediate directions and functions over the larger community." He goes on to report that the National Urban League's recommendations primarily address the immediate necessity to establish mechanisms that ensure the African American community shares an equal voice in creating and implementing policy, beginning with the upper levels of Augusta and Richmond County government. He concludes that the study calls for the establishment of a biracial community relations task force to be appointed by the mayor and county commission chairman, and granted full subpoena and enforcement powers to act on all matters involving racial and social discrimination.
The National Urban League was founded in New York City in 1910 as a nonpartisan and interracial social service organization, formed to serve the growing African American population in search of employment and housing in New York City. Many of the city's new African American residents had arrived from the rural South as part of the Great Migration, and as they transitioned to city life, required vocational training and social guidance. Local affilates of the National Urban League were soon founded in cities throughout the country. While cultivating powerful alliances with American economic, political, and philanthropic institutions, the agency established itself as a resource for African Americans through social services and advocacy which included sponsoring vocational education programs, training African American social workers, negotiating increased African American employment throughout American corporations, and pressuring government services, labor unions, the military, and the defense industry to cease discriminatory practices. National Urban League staff also conducted investigations of the social, economic, and political conditions of urban African Americans, analyzed and interpreted the findings, and made government policy recommendations. During the 1960s, the National Urban League made advocacy for poor African Americans its top priority. Whitney Young, the organization's president from 1961-1971, proposed a "domestic Marshall Plan" in 1964, which influenced President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty legislation. The organization's tax-exempt status prohibited its full participation in political protests, differentiating it from political civil rights organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The National Urban League still aligned itself with the Civil Rights Movement by sponsoring leadership training and voter education projects, making office space available to civil rights leaders, and co-sponsoring events such as the 1963 March on Washington and the 1968 Poor People's Campaign. As of 2010, the National Urban League continues to advocate for policy on civil rights and racial justice issues, and provides programs and services for African Americans and urban communities.
On March 30, 1971, the National Urban League delivered the results of a report commissioned by Augusta's city council as part of a response to a massive city crisis the previous year. In May, 1970, public outcry against the torture and murder of an African American teenager held in the Augusta jail by Augusta's African American community deteriorated into riots and police violence. Six African American men were shot in the back by policemen, and more than fifty fires were set in businesses owned by white and Chinese merchants in Augusta. Though most of the recommendations in the Urban League's report were ignored by the predominantly white city council, Augusta ultimately managed to establish biracial commissions to investigate racial inequality and division throughout the 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.
|Rights and Usage:|
WSB-TV newsfilm clip of Clarence Coleman, southeast regional director of the National Urban League, asking for a biracial community relations committee in Augusta, Georgia, 1971 March 30, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1729, 26:28/28:14, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.