History, Department of



Television News and the Civil Rights Struggle: The Views in Virginia and Mississippi

Date of this Version



Published in Southern Spaces, November 3, 2004. Copyright © 2004 William G. Thomas III and Southern Spaces. http://www.southernspaces.org/contents/2004/thomas/4a.htm


It is often suggested that national television news coverage of the civil rights movement helped transform the United States by showing Americans the violence of segregation and the dignity of the African American quest for equal rights. In the American South, local television news coverage had immediate and significant effects. This essay argues that local television news broadcasts in Virginia in the fifties began to address the segregation issue in ways substantially more balanced and desegregated than the print media, while a major television station in Jackson, Mississippi, worked hard to defend segregation and deny access to opposing voices, both local and national.