Albany Campaign

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The years 1961-62 saw Albany become a key battlefield in the ongoing fight for African American Civil Rights in the USA. Following the arrest of the SNCC’s freedom riders there in December 1961, a local boycott of the bus station began. The boycott was backed by rallies and protest meetings and, following an address by King, a large protest was held. The protesters were ordered to disperse and, when they refused were arrested and fined. In order to increase awareness of this King refused to pay and as a consequence was jailed. However unlike the numerous protests which had proceeded this one, the Albany Movement failed. The city closed parks, sold the swimming pool and integrated the library only after removing all the seats. It also refused to desegregate the schools. When king returned a second time in 1962 he was arrested but had his fine anonymously paid so that he was released before he could register his protest. This campaign failed for a number of reasons; the shrewd tactics of the local Laurie Pritchett, the refusal of the federal government to intervene, disagreements between the different civil rights organisations and increasing violence from black radicalisms leading to bad publicity.

The first and foremost reason for the failure of the Albany campaign is the handling of the issue by the local police chief, Laurie Pritchett. Previously the mass protests of the civil rights activists had led to violence, which gave the campaign the publicity it needed to continue. However Pritchett knew how to prevent violence from breaking out. He stopped white demonstrators from attacking the civil rights activists and then instructed the police to be gentle when ordered to arrest the campaigners after they refused to disperse. He also promised King that he would discuss the issue of desegregation at a later date. However these discussions never happened and when King returned to Albany for the second time he was arrested and his fine was paid anonymously,...
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