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The Danville Protests

(1963)

Hospitalized Demonstrators

Spread from booklet on Danville by Dorothy Miller and Danny Lyon. Published by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Atlanta: August 1963.

Bridgewater College Special Collections

Spread from booklet on Danville by Dorothy Miller and Danny Lyon.  Published by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  Atlanta: August 1963.

In the summer of 1963, the city of Danville, Virginia, erupted in protests with growing calls by African Americans for equal opportunity. One among several catalysts for increased civil rights action occurred on June 5th. Two clergymen and leaders of the Danville Christian Progressive Association (DCPA), the Rev. Lawrence Campbell and the Rev. A.I. Dunlap, had been walking to city hall almost every day since May 31st to demand equality in the hiring of municipal employees. On June 5th, after arriving with visiting students from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and fellow DCPA leader Julian E. Adams Sr. and being denied a meeting with the mayor, they simply stated that they would wait for him.  They patiently sat on the floor of the town hall. According to a SNCC pamphlet on the protest, “police rushed them, pushed Dunlap down a flight of stairs, and choked a young Negro girl, who, not properly schooled in non-violence, responded abruptly and swung at a policeman with her pocketbook. She and the two ministers were jailed.” 

Nonviolence Training

Photograph of nonresistance protest training from booklet on Danville by Dorothy Miller and Danny Lyon. Published by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Atlanta: August 1963.

Bridgewater College Special Collections

Photograph of nonresistance protest training from booklet on Danville by Dorothy Miller and Danny Lyon.  Published by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Atlanta:  August 1963.

The clergymen and Adams were charged under an obscure law for inciting [Virginia's African Americans] to riot and for encouraging a minor to commit a misdemeanor.”  Their bails were set at $5,500, which adjusted for inflation today (750%) would come out to be above $40,000. Civil rights protestors from Danville and visiting civil rights organizations continued to demonstrate at an increasing rate. 

On June 10th Danville police arrested thirty-eight of the protestors.  During a prayer vigil outside the jail that evening police and deputized garbage collectors attacked vigil-goers with fire hoses and as a memo by Jim Dombrowski of the Southern Conference Education Fund states, “specially made clubs which split open people’s heads and faces and broke their bones.” Sixty-five African American protestors, including forty-seven prayer vigil attendees, were treated at local hospitals on this Bloody Monday.  The demonstrations continued through the summer.