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The Movement: Danville's Civil Rights Movement
The Danville civil rights demonstrations began peacefully late in May 1963 when local civil rights leaders organized demonstrations, sit-ins, and marches to protest segregation in all spheres, but especially in municipal government, employment, and public facilities. As protests accelerated, however, white authorities responded early in June with tough legal stratagems and violence, attacking demonstrators with clubs and fire hoses. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) all sent state and national leaders to Danville to assist the African American protesters, but to little avail. The legal resistance displayed by authorities—injunctions, ordinances, and court procedures condemned by the U.S. Justice Department—proved so effective and unyielding that protests were stymied, resulting in few immediate gains for African Americans.