this clip, Governor
Carl E. Sanders holds a press conference on August 4, 1965,
to discuss the police protection of Americus citizens.
He urges citizens to conduct peaceful protests and to use local
courts to resolve their grievances. Sanders also addresses
the voter registration crisis in Americus.
He states that the
arrival of state troopers, in addition to the Americus police,
provides sufficient protection for black and white citizens alike.
In addressing reporters’ comments about state troopers who are
reluctant to take action, Sanders argues that the troopers have
the same authority as the Americus police to arrest individuals
who purposefully disobey the law.
Lieutenant Governor Peter Zach Geer had sent a telegram
Lyndon B. Johnson asking for the intervention of federal troops
in Americus. However, Governor Sanders feels that the residents
of Americus can resolve their own issues peacefully. He also denounces
the involvement of what he calls the “outside agitation” of SNCC and SCLC organizers.
Although Sanders agrees that all citizens should be allowed to
vote, he disagrees with the efforts of voter registration drives.
Instead of using such channels to register voters and challenge
existing laws, Sanders urges citizens to lodge complaints with the
state voter registration board or in superior court. However, many
civil rights workers felt these efforts would do little to change
a corrupt system determined to deny black voters.
The governor's position calls attention to the tension between
the federal government's authority and the rights of the state to
establish its own agenda for civil rights. The same conflict arose
Maddox defended his right to maintain segregation at his Pickrick
Restaurant. Like the Civil
War era, the Civil
Rights Movement marked
a moment when states were forced to concede power to the federal
government for the greater good of all its citizens.
Resources (click here)
1. Why did the federal government send troops to the deep South
during Reconstruction (1865-1877)?
How similar or different was the government's position on intervening
in states' affairs during the 1950s and 1960s?
2. After Reconstruction
in Georgia ended, what barriers did the state impose to prevent
black Americans from voting? Besides adding more blacks to voter
registration rolls, how did the civil rights activists take steps
to enfranchise black people?
3. What American groups have tried to prevent other American citizens
from voting, and why?
4. Have other minority groups been prohibited from voting in American
history? Hint: investigate the history of American citizenship among
it to the Streets!
Go to the University
of Southern Mississippi's Oral History Civil Rights Documentation
Project. Read the stories of several Freedom
Summer activists who came down from the North and Midwest
to register voters and educate children and adults. Write a journal
entry from a day in the summer
of 1964 from the perspective of
one of these activists. What would you see? Who would you talk
to? What kinds of sacrifices would you make to be an activist
during this summer?
Writer: Lauren Chambers
Deborah Stanley and Diane Trap
Lauren Chambers, Aggie Ebrahimi, Courtney Thomas, and Professor
Site Designer: William Weems
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