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Civil Rights Demonstration in Austin (1963)

Gordon Wilkison

Sound | 1963

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  •  Booker T. Bonner, a member of the Freedom Now Committee, took issue with Governor John Connally's personal opposition to the public accommodations bill, who believed it invaded businessmen's private rights. (Connally instead pledged to aid the integration of all tax-supported facilities.) In response, Bonner drafted a petition calling for the Governor to initiate a series of executive orders banning all racial discrimination in state public facilities and employment, declaring a state accommodations law to ban discrimination in privately owned facilities open to the public, repealing all state segregation laws and immediately integrating all school districts, and enacting a $1.25 minimum wage. Bonner then delivered the petition to the Governor during the march, which the press referred to as “M-Day.” 
  •  Civil rights demonstrators and speakers at Wooldridge Park, including W.J. Dunham, a Dallas attorney and NAACP official; Dr. Ruth Belinger McCoy, a San Antonio physician; Miss Barbara Jonian, a Houston attorney; and Reverend Claude Black, a pastor from San Antonio. 
  •  Bobby Joiner crashes the march. The grocer from Grand Prairie led a small counter-demonstration for the Indignant White Citizen’s Council (IWCC). The grant to host such a parade was approved at the last minute—against the advice of Connally—under the sole provision that it occur at least three hours before Bonner’s march. While Joiner predicted upwards of 3,000 people to come out in support of IWCC’s segregationist stance, only a handful showed up. (Connally personally issued a stay-at-home appeal for any who harbored racial views similar to Joiner.)  
  •  Civil rights demonstrators moving north on Congress Avenue towards the Capitol 
  •  General Edwin Walker 
  •  Civil rights demonstrators being interviewed by the press on the Capitol grounds 
  •  Doris Miller Auditorium, 2300 Rosewood Avenue 
  •  Looking east on 11th Street at Congress Avenue.  In the background: James Earl Rudder State Office Building, State Highway Building, Travis County Courthouse (demolished 1964) 
  •  Texas State Capitol Building and grounds 
  •  Looking west on 11th Street, approaching the I-35 overpass 
  •  Looking west on 11th Street, approaching Red River 
  •  Looking east on 11th Street near the intersection with Trinity 
  •  Demonstrators crossing in front of the Travis County Courthouse and entering Wooldridge Park 
 
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On Wednesday, August 28, 1963, a NAACP pro-integration march and rally was countered by the pro-segregationist group, the Indignant White Citizens Council (IWCC). The pro-integration parade and rally accumulated a mixed-race crowd of up to 4,000 people. Led by Booker T. Bonner, a member of the Freedom Now Committee, the “March for Jobs and Freedom” sought to protest against Governor John Connally's opposition to expanding civil rights legislation. The IWCC’s counter-demonstration—led by Bobby Joiner, a grocer from Grand Prairie—consisted of eleven protesters heckling the NAACP marchers. This series of news clips, shot by KTBC cameraman Gordon Wilkison, captures the event. Please note that the audio in this film is poor in places.
Gordon Wilkison began work as a cameraman at the local Austin television station KTBC (now FOX 7) during 1952, its first year of operation.  At the time the station was owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Senator Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson. This relationship would continue to shape Wilkison's career well into the next decades - during the Johnson administration, Wilkison covered the president's visits to Texas, preparing material for national and international news correspondents. 
 
A particularly notable moment in his career occurred on August 1, 1966, when Wilkison and KTBC reporter Neal Spelce risked their lives to capture footage of the Tower shooting at the University of Texas. 
 
Wilkison was also the General Manager of Photo Processors at the LBJ Broadcasting Corporation, which he later took over and renamed Cenetex Film Labs. In addition to his camera work and film processing, his work at the station also included direction of a number of television film productions.
 
Outside of KTBC, Wilkison shot, edited, and processed Longhorn football game footage for the University of Texas, a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.    
 
Recognizing the historical value of film and news footage, Wilkison kept the material, later contributing hundreds of reels to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image's collection.