Lost and Found: Segregation and the South

By Dan Linke and Brenda Tindal

Title screen

Martin Luther King and ___ on bus.

Martin Luther King riding a Montgomery bus after the boycott.

A recently donated film long thought lost has been digitized and is now viewable online.  “Segregation and the South,” a film produced in 1957 by the Fund for the Republic, reported on race issues in the South since the 1954 Supreme Court decision in the Brown v. Board of Education case.  It examined the slow progress of integration at elementary and secondary schools and colleges, as well as the white backlash to the decision.  It also documented the Montgomery bus boycott.  Much of the footage came from news organizations like CBS and NBC that was re-packaged, but some original material was filmed in Clarksdale, Mississippi, by writer and director James Peck.  Broadcast on June 16, 1957, a Sunday, from 5-6 p.m., it aired on over 30 ABC affiliates, 12 in the South, but none in the Deep South.

Narrated by prominent voice actor Paul Frees, pioneer television journalist George Martin Jr. served as executive producer, and it was Martin’s son who donated his father’s copy of the 16mm film to the Mudd Manuscript Library.

Many notable civil rights figures of the time are featured (though some are not identified) including  Ralph Abernathy (31:56: “No we’re not tired”), UN diplomat Ralph Bunche (16:35: “No one has ever been known to enjoy rights posthumously”), NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall (7:10 and 16:56), Rosa Parks (31:17 where she tells of her refusal to give up her seat on a bus that sparked the boycott), and NAACP executive secretary Roy Wilkins (7:51 and 10:03).   In addition, the prominent union leader within the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, A. Phillip Randolph, is featured (10:07).

Martin Luther King is featured prominently several times (7:42: “There is a brand new Negro in the South, with a new sense of dignity and destiny;” 34:02; 36:56; 38:30; 38:46; and at 39:07 responding to the violent backlash that followed the end of segregated buses in Montgomery:  “Yes, it might even mean physical death , but if physical death is the price that some must pay to free our children from a permanent  life of psychological death, then nothing could be more honorable.”)

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1993 Baccalaureate Speaker Garry B. Trudeau

On Sunday June 6th,1993 at 2pm students were seated in the University Chapel to hear the remarks of Baccalaureate speaker Garry B. Trudeau, cartoonist and creator of Doonesbury. Trudeau was also the first person to receive a Pulitzer for a comic strip.

This film shows some of the only documentation of the 1993 Baccalaureate ceremony to be found in the archives. This is the entire ceremony. (Trudeau’s portion of the ceremony begins at 18:20)

For more about the history of the Princeton Baccalaureate and Commencement Week activities throughout history, see our accompanying blogs:

The history of Princeton University Commencement Ceremonies

Name Dropping: A list of famous Commencement Week speakers at Princeton

Class of 1929 Commencement and a potpourri of student activities

Princeton’s 250th Anniversary Commencement with speaker President Bill Clinton




Princeton’s 250th Anniversary Commencement with speaker President Bill Clinton

On June 6th, 1996, as part of the University’s 250th Anniversary celebration, U.S. President Bill Clinton delivered the principal address at the 249th Commencement ceremonies, a departure from the Princeton tradition of having the University President deliver the ceremony’s major remarks.

The video includes the entire commencement program starting with the procession (00:02), then the remarks of Princeton University President Harold Shapiro (4:40), the Latin Salutatory of Charles Parker Stole (6:40), Provost Jeremiah Ostriker (10:47), Dean of the College Nancy Weiss Malkiel (13:00), the Valedictory of Brian Patrick Duff (21:25), Dean of the Graduate School John Wilson (25:31), Dean of the Faculty Amy Gutmann (29:28), University Board of Trustees chair Robert H. Rawson ’66 (32:39), and the presentation of Clinton’s honorary degree (33:00).
At (41:58) President Harold T. Shapiro gives a history of U.S. Presidents participating in Princeton Commencements.
President William Clinton’s speech runs (44:52-1:15:05).
The program concludes with final remarks from President Shapiro and the reading of the Benediction by Dean Gibson (1:17:19) and then the singing of Old Nassau.
Here you can read the transcript as a part of The American Presidency Project.

In 2010 the Princeton University Archives uploaded the following video from C-TEC highlighting the broadcast preceding speech. It includes a number of interviews with faculty and staff.

Class of 1929 Commencement and a potpourri of student activities

While the traditions around Commencement have changed some over the University’s 267 year history, overall it is a remarkably consistent ceremony. Let’s take a look back to 1929.  This video shows a number of scenes from a typical Commencement week. We begin with the procession of graduates led by the faculty.  Following that, you see a view of the audience assembled on front campus, with some shots of the stage in front of Nassau Hall, where the event is still held today. Finally you will see a few members of the Class of 1929 receiving their degrees, something that has changed. As the typical graduating class now is over 1,100, diplomas are distributed after the commencement ceremony, not handed out individually.

The golf team is featured at 3:50, polo at 4:54, members of the Daily Princetonian, Bric-a-Brac, student council, Triangle Club and Senior Prom committee featured at 6:16, baseball at 8:56 and finally the P-rade at 10:32.


Team roster in the 1931 Bric-a-Brac


Can you identify anyone in these films? Add your comments!

For more Commencement videos click here!