Author: Emma C. Edmunds

an independent scholar who received a 1998 Virginia Foundation for the Humanities fellowship to study the 1963 Danville civil rights demonstrations. She died in 2020.

Danville Civil Rights Demonstrations of 1963

The Danville civil rights demonstrations began peacefully late in May 1963 when local civil rights leaders organized demonstrations, sit-ins, and marches to protest segregation in all spheres of the community, but especially in municipal government, employment, and public facilities. As protests accelerated, white authorities responded early in June with tough legal strategies and violence, attacking demonstrators with clubs and fire hoses. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) all sent state and national leaders to Danville to assist the African American protesters, but to little avail. The legal resistance displayed by authorities—injunctions, ordinances, and court procedures condemned by the U.S. Justice Department—proved so effective and unyielding that protests were stymied, resulting in few immediate gains for African Americans.