Some of the bloodiest, though least publicized, moments of the civil rights movement took place in Danville, Virginia in June of 1963. While we remember “Bull” Connor’s firehoses in Birmingham, we have no recollection of Police Chief McCain’s fire hoses. Police dogs defended their white master’s hydrants and elaborate web of drinking fountains. One of the founders and leaders of the Danville Christian Progressive Association (DCPA) throughout the 1960s was Lawrence Campbell, a young black minister. Born in 1930, Campbell remains a very visible Christian presence in Danville, as he leads the Bibleway Worldwide Church of God.
In this speech at a DCPA meeting in December 1963, Campbell recalls a humorous sit-in story before reminding his listeners that God is working through the movement. He also briefly touches on the events of June 10th, the racial violence that forced even battle-hardened Martin Luther King to send a telegram to Attorney General, Bobby Kennedy, complaining of “the beastly conduct of law enforcement officers at Danville.” The transcription is from the Moses Moon Audio Archive at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
We give honor to the Lord for being here and to our most esteemed, uh, president, uh Reverend [Lendell W.] Chase and to Mr. Avon Rollins, national executive officer of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and to all of the, all of the freedom fighters that are here today. Uh, Reverend Chase, uh, commending me he also needs a hand of applaud for, uh, an applaud rather for the very fine report that he gave, uh, on the air. I would like to see how many of you heard the report. If so, raise your hand. Let’s give Reverend Chase [inaudible] was very well done, very well done. And I trust that you will continue to listen because he will be giving in a number of reports to sorta keep you informed about the things that have already happened in terms of achievements that the DCPA and other groups have made in Danville.
Uh, first of all I would certainly like to talk about the tremendous spirit that we have seen in the jail of the kids that are there. I’ve been down three times and on a third time I was admitted to go into the jail and we talked to