Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
He said it just so I decided drink some water.I certainly wish I had all of you with me in Tallahassee. You seemed all to be veryinterested in this movement somewhat and we can certainly use you in thesouth. I wish I was up here planning a big demonstration sit in demonstration ratherthan just telling you about what we've done so far.Last summer my sister now where we were on our vacation inMiami were invited to attend a core meeting andcost him the Congress of Racial Equality. We wereinvited to attend this meeting and we did. We were so impressed bywhat the White corps was doing that we've decided to attendmore meetings. So when I returned to school in Septembermy sister and I decided to organize a core chapter in Tallahassee
so we were sucessful in doing this the latter part ofOctober and the first of November. And of course some of myfirst projects were testing the local buses inTallahassee in 1956 we had a bus boycottand as a result of this boy bus as a result of this bus boycott thebuses were supposedly have been integrated. Of coursewe had heard that they were not. So we decided to find out whythese buses are not integrated although they were supposed to be.So of course some core members including myself decided to test the buses.And we are going as a court chap in Tallahassee. We were in to getgraded. We had three white members and instructor from theWhite University in Tallahassee which is Florida State University a
woman who works in the government in Tallahassee the capitaland the instructor's wife. And along with some 20Florida A&M University students and instructors.So of course we got the white observers to rather busesto get on the buses first. At the same point where we were getting on thebuses they were to sit down in cases where we would usethe media. We would use a female white observer.We've learned that it's best to have a white female and Negrofemale to work together on these and testing these localprojects. So of course on the particularon this particular test we had a white woman and two NegroWomen. So we purchased a ticket on thebus and we sat down the first seat of the second seat there.
So the bus driver Sierre very softly but hardmoved to the back so of course we nor him we knew hewas talking to us but we just ignored him. So he didn't say move to the back.Again the slightly louder so we still ignored him.So then he wins he sets the curse and then he didn't say anything else.So and then not before we finished our ride. A negro woman came up to us and saidDon't you know you can't sit up here.So then we knew what our problems were furries with the blocking of the bus driversand subtly educating the negroes. So of course there we learned that thenegroes had a tendency to sit to the back of the buses because ofhabit or fear are both. So then we decided to putto send leaflets out to all the churches in Tallahassee tellingnegroes that we were going to change our society from a rear view society to
a front view society. So then ofcourse the corps members decided that they were rather buses once a week tofind out whether nothing negroes were going along with this newsociety.So then of course we've discovered that the people that we were talking towere people that did not run the buses they were people with cars andsoulful. So we discover the people who ran the buses didn't go to churches.The song.So cool was there we had another problem which meant that we would have to get our mistreatsand various other places where people these type of people would wear itand tell them to change the society from a rear view society to a front viewsociety. Then of course weaccomplished something in that. Some of the negroes after seeing us write the
front of buses for maybe a month and a hand decided they would change. Thiswas not something so horrible after all and it wasn't self frightening afterall so that our next project was testing the busstations in Tallahassee Greyhound and Trailways.We were there's a law in Tallahassee saying that you should should be able to purchasean interstate ticket on either side. So of course wedecided to see whether or not we could purchase it interstate ticket on the white sorry.So of course Greyhound is on one corner and trio is on the other corner on thesame street. So we decided to test both of the stationson one night so of course some of these projects sometimes the persons who areparticipating have a tendency to go on these projects without knowing their money. Theyalways think that they are not going to be served. So we thought it would be a good idea to carry
money along. Also if theywould sell us a ticket we would buy a ticket to Thomasville Georgiawhich is only 21 miles from Tallahassee because really no one wanted to leave the state butsince Thomasville was very close and Red Cross and I would get this ticket.So of course we may have several testing.We went on several projects testing the bus stations and of course we were all refused onone particular instance. We had a man there from New York and he was on his wayto Atlanta Georgia so he gave me $20 to get his ticket find this was a white man.So of course he went to the station first to be there or toget the afterthoughts and to be a witness if we needed one they own in court. So ofcourse he was in there just looking around you know white people can do this in the south they don't really have to go there topurchase and ticket a ticket. So of course he
was there. So they are about two minutes before we get here. So wearrived we walked over to the ticket booth and of course we knowthat this one was ignoring us. So then we found we got her attention and told herthat we wanted to purchase an interstate ticket to Atlanta Georgia.Georgia they say their home. So of courseshe said I'm sorry just don't sir can't hear. Go on the other side.So of course we said why we want to purchase an inter-state ticket to Atlanta Georgiareemphasizing says I don't care what kind of ticket you want toget you gone other side. So of course we decided to leave andgo up to tray away and Trailways station and blog it andTallahassee is known for having a lot of rough characters around.So we were free of the growing around would probably call Trey away and tell them we were coming
in that there was some work for me with all of these with us testing.So of course we went to Greyhound and we didn't find too many rough looking characters. A policeman wasstanding over in the corner there so we thought maybe we would get a little protection. But of course inTallahassee police do not protect negroes as such.So then we followed missing procedures except the articulationwas a man this time. So of course weasked to purchase an interstate ticket to Atlanta Georgia use Armor sawour go right through that door and I'll show you your ticket. So because I had not seen my door untilthe point and then there was this little door on the side to go through but it was close.Was it weird reemphasize it was going to purchase an interstate ticket to AtlantaGeorgia so close he started getting his abuse about to giveVala. And he was only bluffing week. So Idecided that the f I was convinced he was not going to
sell us a ticket I walked over to the jury count and just stood there for about five minutes and he was justburning up. He wanted me to run out of lives if I was scared to death and I just wouldn't. And Iwas scared that I would run.So Cause I stood there for 5 mins and this policeman This policeman was only McCoy not saying athing but looking just looking. So because thesecond time we had to test the station made a test we we really didn't want topurchase a ticket no one was going anywhere. We were just you knowjust going to test again make another test. So ofcourse you know when you ask for something and you surprise some time things come out thatyou don't really mean.So instead of saying Thomas or George on this particular time this one sided manner of George which is three hundredsixty nine miles away. Thomas was only twenty one miles away. So he sold theticket I don't know.So of course she still has his ticket she's trying to get rid of it.
So.With that we decided that we would ride thethe bus station about greyhound because we were unable to purchase a ticket from theGreyhound station but we were the true way. So of course we were back several moretimes to make sure they would do this all again and of course they did but we only get we wouldonly go when we really want to go somewhere and we were going short distance if we werenot so close along with this.We were testing the lunch counters in Tallahassee. We were doing this allalong. Maybe one group of core members would go to the busstations and one group of Corman's would go to lunch counters.Now proud of the man's demonstration of sit ins we were testing inTallahassee in that we would go to these large towns we have four in Tallahassee.We would go to these lunch counters and sit down and we would ask a servicewe were politely refuse. Then you ask why. And
then I will say something like it's a policy of the store and they were asking a manager's nameand with after getting this information we would then get up and leave.We would not sit in a long length of time. However we wereplanning a sit in in Tallahassee before the sit instarted in Greensboro North Carolina. So says they did start beforewe got to them we decided to sympathize with the group on a particular day and then too we have the sameproblem in Tallahassee as they have in North Carolina and other southernstates. So of course on February the 13thwe decided to have a sit in demonstration. But before February on the 12thwhich was a Friday the eleventh and the twelfth we had social dramasmaybe some of you have seen the social dramas on television that they madein the self or the social dramas of when students will sit downpretending that they are meant they are at a lunch counter and other students will kick them
slap them blue in their faces pull a hair and so forth.We do all of this to find out whether or not the students are capable updissipating in that we stress nonviolence and also to get themprepared to what might happen on these demonstrations. So aftertwo days of having social dramas we decided that we were somewhatready for the demonstration. So ofcourse our procedures were the first demonstration we did not have quite of service this isquite unusual. We decide to shop aroundfirst in the US and we'll worry if this is a particular store thatwe had our sit in first.The students would go and shop around they were not going all together. There were now students involved inthe first sitting and all nine students were not rushing tothe store or going to the store at one time. They were going to pails
right behind one another maybe seconds apart andthen they would shop around purchasing small articles and then they were quietly to commentand sit down. Then they would try and place their orders if possible.And then if they were asked to leave they would say we'll just wait.And before each demonstration we select aspokesman of the group in case some people want to argueanything like that we just have one person they can go to for information and what have you.So of course in the first demonstration My sister was chosen as a spokesman of the group.Will they win they.Win in war if 11 o'clock on this Saturday February 13.They say they receded. Ever they refuse they decided to read and just talkamong themselves never talking to anyone else unless a spokesman decided that this wasthe right thing to do and only he or she would do so.
So of course they sat for two hours and the only trouble they had on the first demonstration was thatif some white man and in most cases in the South was always a man and afterwomen on both sides and women doing something I mean the men doing something wrong andnot doing something well those cases and women are never the onesto give balance on the opposite side. Women are just good on bothraces I have found.This Out. He's a man.So of course the white man came into the store and these white men picked thesmallest and the youngest person who was sitting at the lunch counter a fellowabout 15 a 15 year old high school student.These big old guys walked over to him and ask him questions. Can you read more theysaid. So he said direct all your questions to the spokesman. Policemen lookedat him. As a can you boy and the man asking what
how should they know if you can read you should know and he kept saying direct all of your questions to thespokesman. So then the white man decided he would get he wanted to getinvolved decided to blow smoke in this little fellow's face I don't know why I didn't pick on someof those other fellows there was a big man sitting down with a pick this littleboy and aggravated.So of course there were a lot of reporters there and they were all asking masses to questions in that she was the onlyperson supposed to talk to them. So they left at 2 o'clock and they hadno more trouble. Now in the second demonstration we decided to plan itsomewhat different in that we decided to use while observers on this particulardemonstration. The calmer mostly quite calm members in Tallahassee decided toparticipate in that they were to goal into will worryfirst. Looking around to fire the kind of peoplethey are in the store if there are any unusual looking characters there and they
were to inform us what they found there. So of course they did this and then theywere to go back to the store. And on a big breakfast or lunch or what have you.Enough to last maybe an hour I have enough to eat on our own here.See we do this in order we in case we need witness in court or something we canhave these people there so you're not letting the other people the public know they are withus. So of course they did this and theprocedures were different on the second demonstration in there. My sister made a mistake on thefirst demonstration she will this law up loud orange coat and onthe second demonstration she wore it again.So unfortunately a waitress who was there on the first one was there in acircle and she saw Patricia entering the store with designs called Oh and she threwhis open issue.My God you're to come again so we don't have a chance to stop. We had torush quietly to the lunch counter and sit down. So then we all try to place our
orders and we refuse.So course we all say we will wait. And the other difference wasthis we only say half an hour and a half we were reading and talking. We weren'treally reading we were trying to read and we were talking among our sales.And no one usual crowd gathered as a result of our being there. And I might add nowhite person's got up to leave because we set down a fact especially on the first demonstration.Over a hundred persons returned down after we were seated there.The second demonstration is clearly people return down after we were seated thereno one got up to leave. So of course we were sitting there and theyhave to now have a pacifist gentleman well-dressed gentlemanwalked into the store. You know how you are impressed by has some people look at me as awell-dressed and posh insole. So I saw this man coming. Does a mirror right infront of us and you see everything going on in the back this is very good you know.You can see anybody trying to sneak up on you case when the duck. You can't fight that we
can duck. So cause.We saw this gentleman dressed so well dressed who all impressed with howwell dressed he was. We knew it was something that was striking about this man and we saw these15 policemen behind me we knew it was something.So close. We all looked around to see what was going on. We thought maybe something ishappening we have not heard or seen it you see. So we looked around trying to see what had happenedwhile the policeman's were rushing into the store. So then we came to a conclusion that there weretime for us. So we all looked. OhI can't tell you exactly how he looked. Of course this gentlemanwalked over to my sister and asked her if she could read I don't know why we always pick thisquestion to ask us in that we have books that should be obvious that we can do somethingyou know we have these books although we are not reading most hands and heasked her if she knew the canon was closed so she told him to direct all of
his questions to the spokesman and he looked at her very me.What do you mean Tell me what to do.You know when all sort of expressions. So she pointed me out to him.So he then came over to me asking me the same identical questions only adding as aMyrtella has and this is for me. This is when I realized that he was and it was apossibility of him being the mayor of Tallahassee. I never met the mayor of Tallahassee and it wasnothing written so my mayor.Put him away he said as a mayor of Tallahassee I'm asking you to leave.So I asked the gentleman if we did not Lee would any of us be committing a crime.He didn't even bother to answer that question. He merely repeated the statement he'd madepreviously. Then I thought it was only right for me to get up and relate to the other students whathe had said to me in that all of them could not hear what he was saying. There were 11 of us involvedtoo by the way in this demonstration. So I got to tell the other students what he is sayinghere. And I also say that we did not Lee were probably arrested. We had
talked of being arrested but no one really decided to be arrested.So of course the annon only been all 11 persons including myself decided tostay knowing that we would be arrested. So of course the otherstudents were already seated. But before I can return to my seat the mayor told the Chief ofPolice to place all of us under arrest. Then the chief of police does something like this and 10more policeman's walked into the store. I don't know why the needles awls policemen's forpeaceful biting students. But anyway two policemen stoodbehind each one of us. Some of them grabbing the fells by the seat of appearsuncertain and right there we had nothing but books with us but I don't know why theysearched us. The Fells anyway and.There were too many of us to go travel back to Tallahassee to policepolice department. I don't have that many cars in Tallahassee. So we had towalk to the police station which was last year. Then a
bank in Tallahassee and the bank now lies the police stationand Dave is the seller for the phrase it was.So. So of course when the broom in thebuilding was built it was built. The vote was built it was built for money and things ofvalue and not human beings are nothing that we are of any value but it was a bitfacile so they put all 11 of us in there. So fortwo hours we were in there vote no air whatsoever you can imagine mine didn't needair so they had us in there. And fortwo hours we were in there before we knew what we were charged with before any of us wereallowed to use the telephone. We were continuously asking what we were charged with andif one of us could use a telephone. This was all denied to us for two hours.Although a policeman kept coming back saying that the charges are this long and I'll tell you in aminute this minute last for two hours.
So of course firmly after two hours I have a pass. Thispoliceman came back and said that with this long piece of paper and folders andsaid that you know in the case of the charge of all the way down here we are three charged and blunderedthrough those three so of course we were disturbing the peace.Incite a riot and disrupting the peaceful tranquility to come and.Thank you.This is just sitting down now quietly just talking to among all sails verysoftly. So then he said coming girl you cancome and use the telephone. I can't get myself for nothing anywhere.So of course he pointed to my sister.So then she went out to use the telephone she was her and she was dialing the number of airfare soit's telling someone where we were and come get us out.So before she got the last number Tao the policeman told us that yes a whyyou darling calling. Tell them to come and bring found a hundred
dollars to get each one of you out but this is just a sitting down lunch counterquietly. So of course you really drop the phone almost on the floor.She had no idea who to call to come and get us out for $500. I'm tellingwasn't $55 Intelius anywhere we thought.So of course she came back into the Vaal various alien related to us what he had said.So before. We could I might add while we were in this boatwe will continue to sing and pray in between time but asking what were wecharged with. And Larry Wow it took so long for them to tell us what we were charge ofbecause it took them two hours to think of something to charges withand it took about seven people to think of the charges. Smart of them werenot even there. So of course the chief ofpolice came and said to us that a minister was sending a professional bondsman
down to get us all out.So they were released an hour later. So of course.Apollinaire hearing was the following MondayFebruary the 22nd and we couldn'twe have a demonstration on Sara day after we were released from jail.The remainder of the sarod Iand Sunday and we were trying to getlawyers to represent us in court Monday for the police.Blair Nair hearing and we were able to get lawyers inTallahassee this is a capital floor too by the way to represent us.So of course we had to go 500 miles away to get lawyers to represent us andour lawyers got to Tallahassee one hour before courtone hour.
So you can imagine how things were all that weekend after we were arrested.So of course we all pleaded not guilty to the charges.And then our trial was set for March 3rdeight days before our trial the entire student body a FloridaA&M University this is a negro universe in Tallahassee decidedto meet in our jury room to discuss this problem.And tell us in ways that they could support us give us moresupport. So the president of the student body for Iam university put leaflets it spreadleaflets on our campus saying there would be a meeting at 6 o'clock.So if our clock the president of our University toldthe president I asked to nobody that we could not have this meeting at sixo'clock. So of course the president's job I had no
idea how he could inform 3000 students by 6:00 he was only inPhantom's inform Foulke Are they cannot have it. It was no way in the world forhim to inform 3000 students by 6 o'clock that we cannot have a meetingon this particular day it was raining extremely hard too.So what we decided to do just let the students gather in the auditoriumand then we would tell them what we wanted them to come for before we had heardabout this.We cannot have a meeting and then tell them not that we can herald.So of course they are charming was packed we have an extremely large order turnand seem to me although it was raining very hard all students.All the students were there. They had to stand up there was not enough city room for all of them.So of course the students who were involved decided to sit in the audience rather than sit on stage because ofit. We've been on stays This will indicate that we want to have a meeting anyway and we want to do this
without their permission. So of course weinform the the present student body get up and say I'm verysorry but we cannot have this meeting concerning the rest of our students todaybecause the present say we cannot sounds like this all in one sentence he was trying tosay it. So cause one of the students go out and say watch it we have this meeting.So then he told him that the president said we can have civil one. So I don't know the presidentso we can have a meeting. So of course then someone can say well we're going tohave it anyway we'll go outside and hear it. And there does seem to be raining hard over anyset of beers as all Margaretta are going outside.So then someone said why should we have right here is raining outside. Let's have it here.So then the entire student body just voted to have it there.Then.
Of course they voted it in there.So of course the student body decided they would give us more support as well as financialsupport on the day of our trial and before our trial soon. Sothen they decided to go down to the courthouseand give us support.So of course the courthouse only seats two hundred and sixty people and youcan imagine. I don't know in a world 3000 students thought they were going to sit but in a way theywere going down this way there will been a big demonstration downtown. But what we did notknow before we had the meeting we had called the press center has andasked them to cover this meeting but evidently we called the wrong personand he didn't show up. They only only planted a tape recorder in theauditorium so the city officialsdowntown knew of our plan so they decided to
side to reschedule our tribal council arc.And definitely So of course we heard the salute radio the next morning.So then we were invited to New York the leaders of the sit in movementin Tallahassee were invited to New York to tell for a press conference and to telltheir experience says so then where we were in New York we werein New York in the time they had a snowstorm and we were so impressed with thestudents as well as the older people are.Picketing Woolworths in all of us know. And you know I have people from Florida.They just use a stone thing. All of us know all of those people are out there picketing. We were wewere really impress and we thought that if these people could picket and all of us know at theirworst time the worst time to ever head the least we could do was go tojail. So of course we told them
this. So when I returned to Tallahassee we decided to have amass demonstration before hand leaving only havingone sit him her.Thank you.We live in only having Bersih turn tofertilise see. Well I will see if I can come to a conclusion veryquick I hate to leave you at this point.As a result of the mass demonstration 46 students were arrestedthen the city officials decided to get rid of all of the leaders inTallahassee they decided to reschedule our trial it was a shame I can't tell you about the massdemonstration. So then we were tryingconvicted we were sentence 60 days in jail or $300fine and we were given the Until the next day at11 o'clock to come in with our $300 or we would all go to jail.
Now what the judge did know that we were not going to pay a family we weregoing to jail. But our lawyers advice to. Three personsto stay out. A lawyer said that he thought the three persons out of the 11 should stayout of jail and carry on the work if all the leaders went to jail. Thing was things wereprobably died down in Tallahassee so we spent four foulsbefore we were supposed to go to jail.Following people out of out everybody want to go to jail. Yousee all of us.All of us do not believe in paying for say radiation. No oneinvolved no one that I know of believes in say reggae ssion.So after five hours of passing we finally got these three people while the other personswent to jail. You're going to have questions for the otherpersons went to jail and three weeks after we were in jail three other personswere taken to an appeal which is depending on the other five of us
remain in jail for nine days. Now we were given 60 days and we want to serve60 days. But they decided to do us a favor. They gave us 10 days for good behaviorand one day to avoid publicity.And artists.I have to say that the I'm sure that all of us will probably goback to jail again and jail is not a verypleasant experience and then it is a pleasant experience in that when you believe insomething strongly enough you don't instill Jr. as something horrible or anything likethat. Because this summer I'm sure that my sister and Iand the other persons who were involved in sit in demonstration were going back to jail. Some of you thinkthat the sit ins and the other demonstrations are sort ofquiet down a bit but you just keep your eyes open you mind I hear the words singing but you hear something else.And so. And you probably hear of students being arrested. And
let me add this to my conclusion that I hope that each one of you will give all the support.As much support as possible to to push this thing because you knowthis is a fight for all the concerns all of us not just the negroes.This is a fight the should concern all Americans not. I shouldsay we gave it to Americans all the individuals who believe in democracywho believe in equality do everything possible. Picket boycottjust do everything to help us what's possible write letters to peoplesend money if you have any and know most of your students have very little money but your physicalsupport can be of the most importance especially here. Don't think that because youare in the West and not in the south or this does not concern you because it does aslong as we are not free you are not free. Thank you very much.Through
This record is featured in “Speaking and Protesting in America.” This record is featured in “Voices from the Southern Civil Rights Movement.”
The Sit-ins and the New South
Producing Organization
KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
Pacifica Radio Archives (North Hollywood, California)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/28-br8mc8rr6z).
Priscilla Stephens, winner of the Gandhi Award from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), gives a first-hand account of student protests in Tallahassee, Florida, lecturing at the University of California during a fundraising tour for CORE. Stephens speaks to the audience about testing bus lines and lunch counters for violations of civil rights laws, sit-ins, freedom rides, and other nonviolent protests she organized to fight segregation in Tallahassee. A student at Florida A&M, Stephens, along with her sister Patricia, became a leader of CORE, prompting a national official of the organization to state, "To the Negro community she symbolizes their greatest hope for the future." For information on Stephens and the Tallahassee movement, see Glenda Alice Rabby, The Pain and the Promise: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Tallahassee, Florida (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999).
Event Coverage
Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
Public Affairs
Congress of Racial Equality; Freedom Rides; Civil rights demonstrations; African Americans--Civil rights--History; Community organization--United States
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Speaker: Stephens, Patricia
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: 9892_D01 (Pacifica Radio Archives)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: PRA_AAPP_BB0117_The_sit-ins_and_the_new_South (Filename)
Format: audio/vnd.wave
Generation: Master
Duration: 0:36:27
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “The Sit-ins and the New South,” 1960-09-12, Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 20, 2019,
MLA: “The Sit-ins and the New South.” 1960-09-12. Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 20, 2019. <>.
APA: The Sit-ins and the New South. Boston, MA: Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from