Seventy whites held a demonstration in Selma, Alabama Saturday (6 March) in support of Negro rights.
Seventy whites held a demonstration in Selma, Alabama Saturday (6 March) in support of Negro rights.It was believed to be the first time that an all-white group of Southern whites had demonstrated in the streets for Negro equality.
The white demonstrators gathered at a Negro church and marched 12 blocks to the Dallas County courthouse, which has been the scene of repeated voting-rights demonstrations by Negroes in recent weeks.The white marchers immediately found themselves between 500 friendly Negro onlookers and 100 menacing whites, who jeered and yelled insulted.There were some minor scuffles, including one between a white youth and a Negro bystander.
The white demonstrators were led by the Reverend Joseph Ellwanger of Birmingham, Alabama, the white pastor of a Lutheran church attended mainly by Negroes.He stood on the courthouse steps to read a statement on behalf of the group.Sheriff's deputies were on hand to protect the demonstrators from the white onlookers, who became more and more hostile.The statement said in part: "We, as white citizens of Alabama, have come to Selma today to tell the nation that there are white people in Alabama who will speak out against the events which have recently occurred in this and neighbouring counties and towns."
Alluding to recent Negro demonstrations, the statement said, "We are horrified at the brutal way in which the police at times have attempted to break up peaceful assemblies and demonstrations by American citizens who are exercising their constitutional right to protest injustice."
A majority of the white demonstrators were from Birmingham.The rest came from other Alabama cities.
The demonstrators march from the church in groups of four to avoid violating the city's ordinance against unauthorized parades.At the courthouse, they formed a line facing the entrance and raised neatly printed signs.