On this day fifty years ago, a few weeks after well-publicized demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama, peaceful protests led by two members of the Danville Christian Progressive Association began in Danville. The demonstrators sought the participation of blacks in municipal government and services and the hiring of blacks in downtown white businesses. Come June, the city responded with clubs and fire hoses. In the video above, protestor Louise Pinchback reads a letter she wrote from jail.
August 20, 1963: I am a satisfied demonstrator. This is strange, indeed, and maybe a little comical, but a very truthful thought. Near the end of May 1963 our city of Danville became a city of people, Negroes becoming wide awake from a long deep sleep. Became a city of protesting and demanding people. Thus was the beginning of the freedom movement. I became thoroughly convinced that I had to stand up and protest the evils of segregation even if it meant going to jail.
Watch the video for the rest, and click on the entry for some compelling television footage of the protests.
A version of this post was originally published on May 31, 2011.
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