91 from the white race."

In document Political movements : three case studies of protest (Page 93-97)

Albany. - After the failure of the Albany Movement, King still argued

that certain important results had been achieved despite the city’s rigid stand. By organizing the local Negroes into action, the Movement assured

NIT, May 18, 1961, pp. 1,27; May 21, 1961, IV, 5; June 4, 1961, p. 76; Sept. 3, 1961,1V, 7. For a study of southern leaders* desires for new industry and their parallel opposition to extreme measures for preserving segregation, see M. Richard Cramer, "School Desegregation and New Industry: The Southern Community Leaders* Viewpoint", Social Forces, XLI (May, 1963), 384-89.

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a "new s e n s e o f d i g n i t y and s e l f - r e s p e c t " f o r th o u s a n d s o f p e o p le . SNCC f e l t t h a t by le n d in g d i r e c t i o n and g iv i n g form t o d i s c o n t e n t i t bad c u t th ro u g h th e f e a r o f th e Negro com m unity: "When we f i r s t came

to A lb an y , th e p e o p le w ere a f r a i d , r e a l l y a f r a i d . . . . T h ere was f e a r i n th e a i r , and i f we w ere t o p r o g r e s s we knew t h a t we m ust c u t th ro u g h t h a t f e a r . "

I f , by th e m id d le o f 1 9 6 2 , t h e r e w ere no v i s i b l e r e s u l t s i n A lb an y , th e l e a d e r s h i p c o u ld p o i n t to th e e f f e c t s w h ich th e d e m o n s tr a tio n s had had on s u r r o u n d in g c i t i e s w h ich d id n o t w ant th e same c o n f u s io n t o come

t o them : "They d o n ’ t w ant t o l o s e com merce; th e y d o n ’ t w ant to s e e any o f th e n o r t h e r n i n d u s t r i e s t h a t m ig h t c o n s id e r com ing i n t o t h e i r a r e a s a y in g we c a n n o t go i n t o a community w here t h e r e i s c o n fu s io n ,* w h e re t h i n g s a r e u p s e t .

By p r e s e r v i n g th e s t a t u s q u o , th e l o c a l a u t h o r i t i e s had to p r e s e r v e s e g r e g a t i o n ; by p r e v e n t in g v i o l e n c e , th e y h ad to f o r f e i t p r o t e c t i n g th e r i g h t s o f th e N e g ro e s. The Movement p r i m a r i l y f a i l e d b e c a u se w ith o u t v i o l e n c e th e f e d e r a l g overnm ent w ould n o t s t e p i n t o p r o t e c t th e a c t i v i s t s .

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NYT, Aug. 1 8 , 19 6 2 , p . 4 4 . On s i m i l a r a s s e s s m e n t on th e s u c c e s s e s i n A lb a n y , s e e W yatt Tee W a lk e r, "The A m erican Dilemma i n M in ia tu r e : A lb a n y , G e o r g ia " , i n Papers on P o lic e A d m in is tr a tio n and C i v i l

D iso b ed ien ce (New Y o rk: New York U n i v e r s i t y G ra d u a te S ch o o l o f P u b lic A d m i n i s t r a t i o n , 1 9 6 3 ), p p . 1 7 -1 9 .

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C h a r le s S h e r r o d , on S tu d e n t N o n -V io le n t C o o r d in a tin g C om m ittee,

Freedom in th e A ir : A Documentary on A lbany, G eorgia, 1961-1962, op. c i t .

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S l a t e r K in g , V i c e - p r e s i d e n t o f th e A lbany Movement, i n Peace News

During the Freedom Rides, the federal government acted only when there was uncontrolled violence. During the Albany demonstrations, when there was no public violence, it did nothing to protect federal

rights when the state failed to act. Critics of the government argued that it was the job of the federal government not only to maintain order but also to guarantee and preserve the processes of justice. Observation and investigation, or

amiaua curiae

briefs in support of the Movement's action on the legal level, were insufficient methods of protection. The government could have sought federal prosecutions of officials who deprived

95 activists of First Amendment rights or who violated ICC regulations, Albany was an example where the government had the power to intervene in a local situation but chose to interpret that power narrowly.

The chances of influencing a state's policy on segregation, let alone of altering it in any major way, became remote once the federal government decided to offer no assistance to the activists. At bottom, there was very little wrong with the methods used by the Movement, It was simply

that its demands were not attainable if the government in Washington refused to be of active assistance,

A

small and alienated minority of the population could have done two things* It could have increased its strength both in absolute numbers and influential supporters; this the Movement did. It could have convinced the federal government that it was in the latter's interests to be receptive to its demands; this it

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Under Title 18 of the United States Code, section 242; "Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any inhabitant of any State, Territory, or District to the

deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punish­ ments, pains or penalties, on account of such inhabitant being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punish­ ment of citizens, shall be fined not more than $1000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

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failed to do. Until there was an actual or highly probable danger of civil disturbance, the government chose to remain undisturbed.

During this phase of the movement, non-violent direct action laid bare the discontents of the civil rights movement and the lengths to which it would go in demanding implementation of civil rights. By this unusual form of coercion, the activists were able to remain, in the eyes of many in the audience, psychologically and morally commendable even if technically disobedient at times.

It is customary in the South for violence to be committed against Negroes. But violence increased the “American Dilemma” posed by Myrdal; it widened the gap between the American Creed of equality and justice and the real world of group living.

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