Content warning: Some images in this gallery show violence being used against protesters and written notes quoting white protesters using racial slurs.
All but the last two photos in this gallery were used as police evidence in 1963 and have only recently been made available to the public. James Ferguson, who was the city attorney at the time, made notes on the back of each photo, which Cardinal News has done its best to transcribe. The photos have been stored in the archives of the Danville Historical Society, which also provided the legal documents in this gallery.
The other photos shown here were provided by residents and members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
This gallery is part of a special report that kicks off Cardinal News’ ongoing reporting on Bloody Monday and its aftermath.
City attorney notes: “Fire Hoses shot on trespassers in jail alley & blocking traffic on St. – broke up demonstration – Tempers flared and violent acts of lawlessness followed all this day – bricks thrown, cars rocked physically back & forth – windows broken – door physically ripped off innocent bystander’s car & driver & 3 passengers assaulted & battered – by Negroes w/rocks [illegible] bricks & trash cans”
City attorney notes: “These black ladies blocked sidewalk and entrance to Belk Leggitt Dept. Store. They were requested to move & when they didn’t they were placed on fabric stretchers (army style) & put in [illegible] & placed in jail – Passive resistance – Gandhi style.”
City attorney notes: “Pickets in ‘lie-in’ – Pvt. prop. Dan River Mills – They were arrested & convicted for trespassing etc.”
City attorney notes: “Some crowd [illegible] left & new ones took their place – beginning to get late in afternoon – no one arrested at this time – altho they were blocking the entrance & were singing shouting & yelling – freedom chants – etc. – occasional outbursts of curse words – disturbing workers – loud & abusive language – They were warned to keep the noise down & open a passage for pedestrians to go into [illegible] Bldg. – at first they did, but lost their tempers & disobeyed the injunction – It was read to them before arrests were made – only a few arrested.“
This note describes a temporary injunction that was later made permanent.
City attorney notes: “…Violation of law – these episodes precipitated my …. Ex parte [ineligible] order – temp. injunction later made permanent & more [ineligible] – more clearly defined – one [ineligible] of testimony …parties allowed to participate…”
City attorney notes: “Negroes blocking office (Lobby) of City Mgrs. office – after 5 P.M. closing time – leaders were arrested and violence attended the ‘peacefull’ sit in – Rocks were thrown – windows of businesses on Main St. were broken – [illegible] – offs spat upon – struck w/ bricks, rocks and other assorted objects – traffic was blocked on many downtown sts & windshields of innocent auto drivers were broken – A full scale riot – Very dangerous.”
City attorney notes: “lie in being arrested”
City attorney notes: “Am. Nazi Party picketing in front of U.S. Post-Off – [illegible] to them after picketing and exp. to them – No sweat — No trouble – inj. secured against George L. Rockwell founder of Am. Nazi Pty.– clear & present danger – insurrection he & his ilk left town – They caused no trouble – [illegible]”
City attorney notes: “Blocking of Munic. Bld. steps most were arrested – children taken home in police car – parents were warned by off’s that their children could be placed in custody for delinquency & parents could be charged with contributing to same, if they had knowledge of same and did not attempt to stop them from violating law – If parents attempted to correct children & failed they violated NO LAW – But children did & they were charged with infractions of law”
City attorney notes: “8-27-63
Main & Market
…w/ walking support” [the rest illegible]
City attorney notes: “Negroes storming city jail trying to extricate persons being booked in mun. bldg. & carried to jail – clear violation of law – near insurrection”
City attorney notes: “Peaceful picketing observed by Lt. [illegible]. No arrests made – protected court rts. Va. & U.S.”
City attorney notes: “St. blocked – walked against Red light and occupied court house steps – [illegible] – but then they closed this area off – Some were arrested some peacefully left”
City attorney notes: “lie in”
City attorney notes: “Self expl. – yelling & shouting [illegible] protecting them – loud noises & chanting – disturbance of public peace. Ignored by offs”
City attorney notes: “The beginning of an all nite vigil on City Hall steps – Daylite – No arrests made at this time.”
City attorney notes: “These young white people stated that ‘N—’ had occupied City Hall for a long period of time & they wanted to occupy the steps – They were talked to quietly & they agreed to and did leave peacefully – No arrests made. However had they blocked the steps and refused to move they would have been arrested – I talked to them. A fine group of young citizens legitimately concerned for safety of Danville. They were courteous and kind – no bad language used & [illegible]”
City attorney notes: “Self explanatory – no law violated – I saluted flag as I passed it. This young man was kind & courteous – sought & was granted permission to do this – He was a real dedicated Christian young gentleman – wanted to help settle disputes going on between blacks & whites. He spoke courteously to blacks & was a great conciliator & example to his elders. I am proud of this young man.”
City attorney notes: “Arrested ‘lie ins’ – being assisted out of Paddy wagon – can be seen officer was courteous to those arrested.”
City attorney notes: “Pickets in jail alley – viol. of injunction – violation of rules & regulations posted on fence leading to police station adjacent to picketers – less than 100 ft. Supreme Court of U.S. held: No one could come upon jail prop. – & or alley & yard, except on official business – visitors to inmates during visiting hrs. etc. – These picketers were ordered off prop. – told verbally of their violations of the law – printed signs were in place – injunction was read to them – no one left – ‘free’ – were not arrested altho they violated law – those who refused to leave were arrested”
City attorney notes: “Blocking front steps Mun. Bldg. being given inst. – clear violation of law – not arrested at this time – Leniency was the order of the day for the Police Dept.”
City attorney notes: “Picket – No laws violated – Freedom of speech and social protest protected by Va. Court and U.S. Court”
City attorney notes: “Blocking of Union St. sidewalk – clear violation of law – on their way to Mun. Bldg. – walked against Red traffic lite”
Judge Archibald Aiken, born in 1888 in Danville, was a lawyer and judge for the Danville Corporation Court. He is best known for his opposition to integration and his unfair courtroom practices during the summer of 1963. Aiken fought against desegregation throughout the 1960s and died of a heart attack in 1971. Below are a series of his documents from the summer of 1963 recovered by the Danville Historical Society.
More stories from this project
60 years after Bloody Monday, Danville’s civil rights protesters “tell their own stories” in new documentary
Jonathan Parker, a white producer, had to build trust within Danville’s Black community for a project that would showcase their firsthand accounts of the summer of 1963. He also had to race against the clock, working to preserve these stories while people are still around to tell them.
This weekend marks the 60th anniversary of Bloody Monday, when civil rights protesters in Danville were violently confronted by police. In this story and three others, read about Danville’s civil rights movement, the people who lived through it, and how the city is growing today.
For decades, the city did not acknowledge Danville’s civil rights movement or the police response to it in a meaningful way. Now residents are working to ensure that Danville’s history is remembered by the entire city.