"Television News and the Civil Rights Struggle: The Views in Virginia and Mississippi," a short video included in an article by William G. Thomas III
Published on November 3, 2004
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Danville, Virginia, July 11, 1963, WDBJ Collection, University of Virginia.
King visited Danville for the third time in nearly a month after the "Bloody Monday" violence. His speech in the High Street Baptist Church called the police in Danville the most vicious he had heard of in the South. The national news attention that accompanied King's visit and King's clear condemnation of the Danville police accentuated the growing disparity among white and black interpretations of these events.
It is often suggested that national television news coverage of the civil rights movement helped transform the United States by showing Americans the violence of segregation and the dignity of the African American quest for equal rights. In the American South, local television news coverage had immediate and significant effects. This essay argues that local television news broadcasts in Virginia in the fifties began to address the segregation issue in ways substantially more balanced and desegregated than the print media, while a major television station in Jackson, Mississippi, worked hard to defend segregation and deny access to opposing voices, both local and national.