Demanding integration and equal opportunities
black and white citizens joined together in protesting discriminatory
hiring practices at the local supermarkets. In this clip filmed on August 2, 1965,
seven men and women protest
outside the Americus Piggly Wiggly grocery store. They ask
shoppers to boycott the store, reasoning that since the Piggly
Wiggly supported itself on African American patronage, it should
in turn support its patrons by hiring African American employees.
Demonstrations were also held during the previous week, on July
31, 1965, at the local Kwik Chek and Colonial grocery stores in
Americus. The demonstrators were allocated a specific portion of
the parking lot for protests, but they soon moved to picket in front
of the store where they were arrested for trespassing. A total
of twenty-three individuals, mainly juveniles, were arrested in
two waves during the day, and taken to the Sumter
County jail. The store later dropped the charges.
As a result of these demonstrations, the county welfare office
released a statement announcing that their visits to black neighborhoods
would cease until demonstrations ended. Americus Mayor T. Griffin
Walker also rejected the formation of a biracial committee to address
and remedy racial tensions in Americus, as had been proposed by
Like the Montgomery
Bus Boycott, and the Birmingham
campaign, this is an example of how African American activists
used the power of the dollar to pressure businesses to integrate.
In retaliation, cities like Americus curtailed social services.
Cultural institutions such as churches, schools, libraries, the
Piggly Wiggly, and other grocery chains became battlefields where
Movement activists and their detractors clashed.
Resources (click here)
Printable Version (click here)
1. Why do you think the Americus marchers targeted
the Piggly Wiggly? Consider who shopped there, where it was located,
who owned it, and who worked there as baggers, cashiers, and managers.
Read the story Lester
Maddox and the Pickrick Restaurant in the Freedom
on Film Atlanta
pages and discuss how the boycott of the Piggly
Wiggly was similar to and different from it.
2. Since the 1960s, how have groups of people used
their financial wealth to eradicate or maintain racism?
3. What strategies did Civil
Rights Movement activists in Americus develop in order to
reconcile the black and white communities? What are the benefits
of developing strategies for reconciliation, compassion, and understanding
Take it to the Streets!
Find out when your school, local library, public park, community
swimming pool, church, movie theater, or grocery store was integrated.
Interview a community member who witnessed or participated in this
integration and then write about the highlights of this interview
in two or three pages.
Writer: Lauren Chambers
Christina L. Davis, Deborah Stanley, and Diane Trap
Lauren Chambers, Aggie Ebrahimi, Courtney Thomas, and Professor
Site Designer: William Weems
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