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[VIDEO] Austin City Council Civil Rights Session

Apr. 16, 1964 - City government was carried out behind a cordon of uniformed Austin, Tex., policemen today after three civil rights demonstrators tried to take the floor away from City Council and were bodily ejected from the chambers.

The dramatic confrontation between the council and leaders of the NAACP that has been building over the past two weeks blew up minutes after the council entered the chambers.

Mayor Pro Tem Travis LaRue, speaking to a jampacked chamber, laid out strict ground rules for procedure.

Mayor Lester Palmer remains in St. David’s Hospital recovering from “extreme exhaustion,” hastened by the four-day civil rights filibuster before the council which began April 2.

The NAACP-sponsored demonstrations are being held to press the council into passing a penal ordinance to ban racial discrimination.

Following the three ejections, a total of 14 persons, from both camps, were heard by the council.

One of the greatest stirs of the day came when the Rev. W. Luther Holland, now pastor of Kashmere Baptist Church in Houston and former Austin minister, said:

“No city in this state is any further advanced in civil rights than Austin.”

Rev. Holland said he was a full-blooded Negro and agreed there was “still progress to be made in this city,” then added that Negroes should take advantage of the opportunities that were now open to them.

“This is a city of love. I want the Negroes to employ culture and understanding to continue the march for higher ideals in civil and human rights,” Rev. Holland said.

The Houston minister said no one had asked him to make his speech.

In rebuttal, Mrs. Florence Bonner, wife of one of the ejected demonstrators, called Rev. Holland “the 20th century Booker T. Washington.”

Booker T. Washington, the Negro educator, author, and orator widely praised by whites and Negroes during his period of activity — 1880 to 1915 — has been criticized by many contemporary civil rights activists for his alleged accommodationism to white supremacy.

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