ERIC Number: ED361740
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993-Aug
Reference Count: N/A
The Media's Role in a Nonviolent Movement: The Nashville Student Movement.
Sumner, David E.
Students from Nashville, Tennessee's four black higher educational institutions organized and carried out sit-ins at lunch counters of downtown department stores beginning February 1, 1960. They wanted the lunch counters opened to customers of all races. The students used press coverage to convey the nonviolent character of their movement. Because their success depended on public support, it was necessary to use the media to convey both their message--human justice and equality--and their nonviolent tactics. Because civil rights demonstrations were perceived as being associated with violence, it was important for the public to see that the students were its victims rather than its perpetuators. The morality play of the sit-ins was made-to-order for the media. The sympathetic treatment received by the students was not due to an inherently sympathetic, white-dominated media. It followed a subtle, but predictable tendency in news media coverage to make events follow a predictable "storyline," complete with heroes, villains, starring and supporting actors, all resulting in a "good conquers evil" conclusion. Media coverage played a critical role for the Nashville students. Their commitment to nonviolence made their story that much more appealing to a white press. (Eighteen references are attached.) (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Tennessee (Nashville)