49 could have been used to obtain equal rights without delay.

In document Political movements : three case studies of protest (Page 76-81)

Dianne Nash, "Inside the Sit-ins and Freedom Rides: Testimony of a

Southern Student", in Mathew H. Ahmann, ed.,

The Hew Negro

(Notre

Dame: Fides Publishers, 1961), p.58.

Very few of the store owners or operators welcomed the challenge to established custom made by the demonstrations and most decried attempts to alter traditional ways. However, some owners, usually those who

recognized the advantage of increased Negro trade, did agree to integrate their establishments; the number of such merchants increased as the move­ ment progressed. Those who were opposed to change regardless of its economic advantages either closed their counters or called in local authorities to arrest the demonstrators.

Verbal and active opposition from local residents marked many of the demonstrations. As soon as the sit-ins were assessed as being neither fleeting, schoolboy stunts nor solely the work of outside a g i tators,^ local forces responded with verbal sallies, retaliatory boycotts and

counter-demonstrations. Those not content with these weapons used violence. Four points should be noted here. First, most of the demonstrations, particularly those in the upper southern and border states, were marked by non-violence on both sides. Secondly, where there was violence it was usually a form of minor outbreak, such as a fist-fight or a brawl,

Many of the stores were outlets of large companies which had their headquarters in the North. The problem arose as to whether policy could be set in the North or whether it should bow to local custom. See Merrill Proudfoot, Diary of a Sit-In (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1962), p.191. Students have treated the

criticism of outside agitation as an insult: "As students, we should be credited with some degree of intelligence and personal dignity - at least enough to organize and direct a movement without the expert guidance of an outside source. We do not deny that CORE has helped the movement, but we maintain that the movement would have had the same desirable effect on the nation without the involve­ ment of COSE, or of any other organization for that matter."

72 -

p r e c i p i t a t e d by w h ite o p p o n e n ts . T h i r d l y , s e v e r e b e a t i n g s , r i o t s , p i s t o l w h ip p in g s , and th e l i k e w ere r e p o r te d by th e p r e s s m ore o f t e n

th a n w ere th e raore num erous i n s t a n c e s o f b eg ru d g ed a c c e p ta n c e . F o u r t h l y , i n t e n s i t y a p p e a re d to make a g r e a t e r im p r e s s io n on p u b l i c o p i n i o n , o r a t th e l e a s t was more n ew sw o rth y , th a n e x t e n s i t y ; t h i s may h av e b e e n s o b e c a u s e th e v i o l e n c e seem ed s o c o m p le te ly u n w a r r a n te d . M ajo r n e \^ s t o r i e s w ere n o t o f n e g o t i a t e d a g re e m e n ts b etw een th e a c t i v i s t s an d t h e s t o r e o w n e rs , b u t w ere news r e p o r t s o f b e a t i n g s i n M ontgom ery, A labam a, r a c e r i o t s and d e a th s i n J a c k s o n v i l l e , F l o r i d a , b u r n in g s i n T a l l a h a s s e e , F l o r i d a , a c i d b u rn s i n A t l a n t a , G e o rg ia , ammonia b u m s i n Rock H i l l , S o u th C a r o l i n a , c i g a r e t t e b u m s i n N a s h v i l l e , T e n n e s s e e , dog b i t e s i n J a c k s o n , M i s s i s s i p p i , h o s in g s i n fO ra n g e b u rg , S o u th C a r o l i n a , bom bings i n N a s h v i l l e , T e n n e s s e e , b o d ily c a r v in g s an d f lo g g in g s by th e Ku K lux 52 K lan i n H o u sto n , T e x a s.

L ocal a u t h o r i t i e s , - The o f f i c i a l r e p l y o f m u n ic ip a l and s t a t e a u t h o r i t i e s

#

t o th e s i t - i n d e m o n s tr a tio n s v a r i e d a c c o r d in g to l o c a l c o n d i t i o n s , b u t f e l l i n t o c e r t a i n p a t t e r n s . Where b i r a c i a l c o m m ittees w ere a p p o in te d to exam ine l o c a l g r i e v a n c e s , o n ly th o s e w hich n e g o t i a t e d w ith N egro es a c t i v e i n th e p r o t e s t s , and n o t w ith N egroes o u t o f to u c h w ith c u r r e n t e v e n t s ,

53 w ere a b l e to r e a c h a g re e m e n t.

52

B ased on i n c i d e n t s r e p o r t e d i n NYT9 F eb . 1 3 , 1 9 6 0 , p . 1 ; F e b . 1 8 , 1960, p p . 1 4 , 1 8 ; F eb . 2 4 , 1 9 6 0 , p p . 2 0 , 2 8 ; F eb . 2 8 , 1 9 6 0 , p . 5 1 ; M ar. 2 , 1960, p . 2 4 ; M ar. 7 , 19 6 0 , p . 1 ; M ar. 1 3 , 1 9 6 0 , p . 5 0 ; M ar. 3 1 , 1 9 6 0 , p . 1 ; A pr. 1 2 , 196 0, p . 2 8 ; A pr. 1 3 , 19 6 0 , p . 3 2 ; J u ly 2 2 , 1 9 6 0 , p . 2 4 ; Aug. 2 8 , 1 9 6 0 , p . 1 ; Nov. 2 3 , 1 9 6 0 , p . 1 7 ; D ec. 7 , 1 9 6 0 , p . 2 6 ; J a n . 6 , 1 9 6 1 , p . 1 2 ; M ar. 1 6 , 1 9 6 1 , p . 3 0 ; M ar. 2 9 , 1 9 6 1 , p . 2 5 . See a l s o

S o u th e rn R e g io n a l C o u n c il, The S tu d e n t P r o t e s t Movement: A R e c a p itu la tio n , op, c i t , 9 p p . 4 - 1 3 .

53

The S i t - I n S to r y : The S to r y o f th e Lunch Room S i t - I n s (New Y o rk : Folkw ays R e c o rd s , 1 9 6 1 ) , No. FH 5 5 0 2 .

Where pet icy wes to arrest the demonstrators, it was carried out either at the request of the store owner or on the authorities' own Initiative« Although only about five per cent of the participants were arrested during the campaign, the quality of the arrests often nade up for what they lacked In quantity« The nethod of arrest or the name and position of the arrested compensated for the numbers, In a way similar to the few incidents of violence compensating for more instances of non-violence« It was noteworthy that 350 students were herded Into

54 a stockade alongside the county courthouse In sub-freezing weather; similarly, It was newsworthy when Martin Luther King was a r r e s t e d ^ or when Negro and white ministers were apprehended In clerical d r e s s . ^

During the Freedom Rides, two arrests were reported In details one of the arrested was chaplain of Tale University; the other, an assistant

to the director of the American Church Union, was the son-in-law of the governor of New Tork state. Similarly, when Jim Peck, who was white, was beaten up by mobs in Montgomery, it was prominently reported; but the beating of a Negro, Diaries Person, at the same time, was barely mentioned. As has been pointed out previously, Albany became an Item of concern to the federal government when King was sent to jail, seven months after the demonstrations had begun«

54

Incident in Columbia, South Carolina,

SIT

, Mar« 16, 1960, p«l«

Incident In Atlanta, Georgia,

i b i d

Oct« 20, 1960, p«l«

56

- 74 -

A r r e s ts were made e i t h e r u n d e r e x i s t i n g s t a t e and c i t y laws o r u n d er 57

new l e g i s l a t i o n s p e c i f i c a l l y p a ss e d to meet th e s i t - i n s . Of th e 3,600 a r r e s t s in s o u th e r n and b o r d e r s t a t e s which have been ta b u la te d f o r th e s i t - i n s , most f e l l i n t o th e fo llo w in g c a t e g o r i e s : (1) d i s o r d e r ly c o n d u c t, p u b lic d is tu r b a n c e , o r b re a c h o f th e p e a c e ; (2) c i v i l o r c r im in a l t r e s p a s s ;

(3) u n la w fu l assem b ly . But th e f u l l ran g e in c lu d e d : f a i l u r e to obey an o f f i c e r ; l o i t e r i n g ; v a g ra n c y ; c o n sp ira c y to i n t e r f e r e w ith tr a d e o r

commerce; im p ro p er la n g u a g e ; i n c i t i n g to r i o t ; p ic k e t in g w ith o u t a l i c e n c e ; d is r o b in g i n p u b l i c ; b lo c k in g e n tra n c e s to b u i l d i n g s ; d e lin q u e n c y ;

c o n tr i b u t i n g to th e d elin q u e n cy o f a m inor; c r im in a l m is c h ie f ; c r im in a l 58 a n a rc h y ; c r e a t i n g a p u b lic annoyance; a f f r a y ; a s s a u l t and b a t t e r y . In th e overw helm ing m a jo rity o f c a s e s , th e s t a t e c o u r ts c o n v ic te d th e

59 d e m o n stra to rs on th e s p e c i f i e d c h a rg e s .

The l e g i s l a t i o n d e a l t w ith a w ide ran g e o f o f f e n s e s : d is t u r b i n g th e p e a c e ; t r e s p a s s ; r e s i s t i n g an o f f i c e r ; u n la w fu l assem b ly ; p a ra d in g w ith o u t a p e r m it; o b s t r u c t i n g p u b lic p a s s a g e s ; a g g ra v a te d b a t t e r y ; b a r r a t r y . Laws were a ls o p a ss e d to c u r t a i l d e m o n stra tio n s on o r n e a r s t a t e p r o p e r ty and to p r o h i b i t c o n s p ir a c ie s to i n j u r e t r a d e . V RRLR 5 2 5 -6 , 5 2 9 -3 5 , 87 3 -8 0 , 8 9 7 -9 8 , 1240 (1 9 6 0 ); VI RRLR 317 -1 9 , 1181 (1 9 6 1 ); V II RRLR 258, 92 5 , 1252-53 ( i s b i ) ; V III RRLR 697, 699-700

(1 9 6 3 ).

For th e p e r io d F eb ru ary 1960 to Septem ber 1961; ta b u la te d o u t o f a t o t a l p a r t i c i p a t i o n o f se v e n ty th o u san d . See S o u th e rn R egional C o u n c il, The S tu d e n t P r o t e s t Movement: A R e c a p itu la tio n, op, c i t , ,

pp. 3 -1 4 .

See c a se s r e p o r te d i n VI C i v i l L i b e r t i e s D ocket [ h e r e a f t e r CLD]

4 6 -4 9 , 7 4 -7 6 , 9 7 -9 9 , 126-27 (1 9 6 0 -6 1 ); V II CLD 3 0 -3 1 , 6 2 -6 3 , 9 7 -9 8 , 123 (1 9 6 1 -6 2 ); VLIICLD 6 0 -6 3 , 8 7 -8 8 , 146 (1 9 6 2 -3 ); IX

The f i r s t of the CORE Freedom Rides was treated with no discrim i­

In document Political movements : three case studies of protest (Page 76-81)