tv Book Discussion on Greenville County South Carolina CSPAN February 28, 2016 9:47am-10:01am EST
up next, we take a visit to greenville, south carolina. you are watching "american history tv," all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. rep. robinson-simpson: many of them complained about not knowing much about their history in greenville, and they reported that the school's only chapter they had on black people was the chapter on slaves. they were slaves and they wanted to know where they could find information and they wanted to know where they could find information but they didn't know nothing about the early history about being black in greenville. looking at greenville, greenville was a typical southern town, and black and white, basically. i recall the '40's and '50's where there were families of asian descent, and there were one or two businesses on
washington street, and two or three families come into this area from one of the arab countries. they normally lived in the neighborhoods that were close to black neighborhoods in greenville, because they, too, were discriminated against to some degree. but greenville was still at that time filled with the kind of bigotry that most of us had learned to live with and expect. black people during that time new their place and they stayed in it. we as children coming up, we knew our place, it was the way things were. it was the way things had always been. i can recall as a child hearing stories about willie earle, who was a young black man who was lynched in greenville by a mob
of white cabdrivers. he was taken out of a jail and take it over to pickens county, but the lynching took place right in greenville. and i can remember hearing everybody talk about what happened to willie earle. and when we as children would think about being afraid of anything, we would think about what happened to willie earle. but as we grew older, for some reason, that fear left us because if you can be a young man or a young woman snatched out of a jail without benefit of a trial and brutally lynched, what is there to be afraid of? so when the civil rights movement broke out, many of our parents tried to put fear in us
by telling us how danger it -- dangerous it was. we realized it was danger but that danger didn't bother us. what bothered us was a possibility if we would allow things to remain the way they were, that we, too, could one day actually lose our lives. you know, the parable had taught us, and all of us were good sunday school goers, if you seek to save your life, you will lose it, but if you are willing to lose your life for the sake of what is right, then you will save it. so we were spontaneous participants in the civil rights movement. at first, not many of the activities were covered by the local television station, which was channel 4. there were accounts of it in the newspaper.
greenville, as well as the other cities in south carolina, did not get the attention of a birmingham, alabama, or a jackson, mississippi, or a savannah, georgia. but we did enough to spark a movement within the state that quickly spread, as i spread before, from greensboro to rock hill, greensboro -- greensville to rock hill, greensboro, and then down to benedict college, down to voorhees college down in denmark. even down to south carolina state university and down to charleston, s.c., and that movement began to come together, although it was spontaneous at first, it is evolved into an organized movement of young people. it was at that time that i was actually, believe it or not, at
the age of 15, elected to state president of the youth council and college chapter of the naacp for the whole state of south carolina. and we began to coordinate our efforts as a state. we were given an attorney that worked with us who later became a judge, matthew j. perry. and he worked with us on cases and files. if there were arrests, he handled it. locally, we had donald james sampson, who was an attorney, and willie t. smith, who was another local attorney who helped with those cases as the movement began to take form and evolve into a state-wide movement that began to garner some attention. so when jackie robinson came to greenville, he was denied access
to the waiting room at the airport. out of that insult, because here you have a baseball great, the level of jackie robinson, being refused the use of a waiting room, and out of that, we had a march on the airport on i believe it was january 3, 1960. -- january 1, 1960. but yeah, we organize that march on the airport, and we marched from springfield baptist church located on at that time on mcbee avenue and the new church is still on mcbee, but we all marched, and it was hundreds, hundreds who came from all over the state, many locally, who came to the airport. and after that very successful march, that was when the sit
in's -- the sit-ins began to occur. the peterson case became a landmark case in south carolina when high school students from greenville, in addition to college students who happened to be home at the time on summer break or whatever, were arrested at the kress five and dime in greenville. there were about four of us who were arrested who were under age, under the age of 16, and we were consequently removed from the city jail and taken to the youth detention center. and we were kept at the youth detention center for one week. almost eight days, but it was seven days that we were kept there, and it was no fun.
but we didn't stop. as soon as i turned 16, i was back on the trail again, but that particular case, our attorneys used an appeal before the united states supreme court and the arrest of those whose names were on the record were overturned, of course, our names were not included in the official record of the peterson case because we were under age at the time. in the other case that i was involved in in columbia, we had that march on the state capital, and students rallied from all over the state to protest the fact that the south carolina house of representatives at that time had passed a bill that gave police officers the authority to arrest individuals for disturbing the peace, even if it was on state property.
so immediately, we decided that we would have a march on the capital. that was back in 1961, i think it was march, it could have been march of 1961. and hundreds, in fact 193 students were arrested, and these students were from all over the state. we can down from greenville, our high school, but they were there from allen university, benedict college in columbia, morris college in sumter, south carolina state university, and in fact, congressman clyburn, jim clyburn, was arrested, was one of the ones arrested during that particular march on the state capital. but they kept us in jail overnight and that next day when we were able to have visitors at the school there, who showed up
but our faithful use of -- faithful youth advisors. they had stayed watch over us even though we were not released at that time. we had some wonderful adult leaders in that movement and there is so much to be told and sometimes, i am hesitant to even talk about the civil rights movement because the history of the civil rights movement, like most histories is like a wild, elusive bird that always flies away, you can't really put your finger on it, or your hands around it because what i found is that when you are a part of something that is as life-changing as the civil rights movement, everybody wants to be a part of it. everybody wants their little niche in history.
if they marched on one march, they ran the civil rights movement, or they were a leader in the civil rights movement, but there were those that i can recall who were in greensville who were a part of the civil rights movement from the beginning to the end, both the and leave and come back, you know, with college vacations, but those who really made a substantial contribution and stand on the battlefield until, as we used to put it, "victory was won." announcer: our "cities tour" staff recently traveled to greenville, south carolina two learn about its rich history. learn more about greenville and other cities on our tour by going to c-span.org/citiestour. you are watching "american history tv," all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. ♪
each week in tilde 2016 election, wrote to the right ind fraser archival footage. next, the democratic riemer he debate between john f kennedy of massachusetts and hubert humphrey of minnesota. this is only the second televised presidential debate in history and took place at the charleston. five weeks before the primary, polls showed senator kennedy trailing by 20 points, with west virginia voters expressing concerns about his roman catholic religion. but senator kennedy was able to make the race about religious tolerance and the separation of church and state and won with 60% of the vote on his way to
securing the nomination. he went on to defeat vice president richard nixon in the general election. our coverage of this hour-long debate is courtesy of the john f. kennedy presidential library and museum and west virginia state archives. >> the following political debate is being presented by "the charleston gazette," wchs-tv, and participating stations. now, moderator bill ames. mr. ames: good evening. the west virginia primary election campaign has already been characterized by the unique and unusual, and that tradition is being followed in spectacular and unusual fashion tonight with a face to face debate between senator hubert h. humphrey of minnesota and senator john f. kennedy of massachusetts.