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African-Americans & the Black Experience: Desegregation & Civil Rights

  • African Activist Archive Project. This project preserves records and memories of activism in the United States that supported the struggles of African peoples against colonialism, apartheid, and social injustice from the 1950s through the 1990s.
  • American Radicalism Collection. Includes books, pamphlets, periodicals, posters, and ephemera covering a wide range of viewpoints on political, social, economic, and cultural issues and movements in the United States and throughout the world.
  • A. P. Marshall African American Oral History Archive. Recorded by historian A.P. Marshall in the 1980s, these interviews span several generations and help to tell the rich and varied story of African-Americans in Ypsilant, Michigani. Each discussion illuminates eras of profound social change and offers an intimate look into the social, home and political life of an historic Michigan community.
  • Black Archives of Mid-America at Kansas City. Houses a large collection of manuscripts and artifacts including photographs, personal correspondence, oral histories, and rare books. Artifacts are from the 19th and 20th centuries and depict African American heritage in the Midwest and the World. The web site provides a generous sample from numerous areas.
  • Black Panther Chronology. Embedded within this chronology are links to texts, photos and media clips. (archived copy)
  • The Black Power Movement. The Black Power Movement of the 1960s and 1970s was a political and social movement whose advocates believed in racial pride, self-sufficiency, and equality for all people of Black and African descent. Credited with first articulating “Black Power” in 1966, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee leader Stokely Carmichael represented a generation of black activists who participated in both Civil Rights and the Black Power movements. By the mid-1960s, many of them no longer saw nonviolent protests as a viable means of combatting racism. New organizations, such as the Black Panther Party, the Black Women’s United Front, and the Nation of Islam, developed new cultural, political, and economic programs and grew memberships that reflected this shift. Desegregation was insufficient – only through the deconstruction of white power structures could a space be made for a black political voice to give rise to collective black power. Because of these beliefs, the movement is often represented as violent, anti-white, and anti-law enforcement. This primary source set addresses these representations through artifacts from the era, such as sermons, photographs, drawings, FBI investigations, and political manifestos. Courtesy of Lakish Odlum and the Digital Public Library.
  • Civil Rights Clearinghouse. Collects documents and information from civil rights cases across the United States. It is available to scholars, teachers, students, policymakers, advocates, and the public, to allow greater understanding of historical and contemporary American civil rights litigation.
  • Civil Rights History Project. Oral histories (with interview transcripts) and digital photographs of people who participated in the civil rights movement.
  • Civil Rights Movement Veterans. This website is of, by, and for Veterans of the Southern Freedom Movement during the years 1951-1968. It is where we tell it like it was, the way we lived it. The mass media called it the “Civil Rights Movement,” but many of us who were involved in it prefer the term “Freedom Movement” because it was about so much more than just civil rights.This web site focuses on the Southern Freedom Movement.
  • Documenting the American South: Primary Resources for the Study of Southern, History, Literature, and Culture. A digital publishing initiative that provides Internet access to texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture. Currently DocSouth includes twelve thematic collections of books, diaries, posters, artifacts, letters, oral history interviews, and songs. Includes many resources on both African Americans and Native Americans in the South. From the University Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Eyes on the Prize : America’s Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1985. Primary Documents. : Read some of the documents that express various views of the civil rights movement. Courtesy of PBS. Note: The entire film series Eyes on the Prize is available in Murrell Library under the call number E185.615 .E943 2006.
  • Fannie Lou Hamer and the Civil Rights Movement in Rural Mississippi.  Born to sharecroppers in rural Mississippi in 1917, the youngest of twenty children, Fannie Lou Hamer knew well the realities of racism, discrimination, and poverty. She used her knowledge in grassroots activism on behalf of voters’ rights, African Americans, and civil rights. “Sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Hamer provided a voice for oppressed and disenfranchised black majorities in the Deep South in the 1960s through her strength, passion, courage, and faith.
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.  Writer, novelist, and social critic James Baldwin was among the leading voices of the twentieth century on race relations and the African American experience. The Fire Next Time was published in 1963 in the midst of the civil rights and black nationalist movements. The book consists of two essays, “My Dungeon Shook: Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation” and “Down at the Cross: Letter from a Region in My Mind.”
  • History Makers. The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection.  Over 128,600 stories assembled from live oral history interviews with 2,391 historically significant African Americans as of January 17, 2018. Founded in July of 1999, the HistoryMakers has grown into the nation's largest African American video oral history archive. Its collection includes the interviews of President Barack Obama (then an Illinois State Senator), civil rights leader Julian Bond, and children's advocate Marian Wright Edelman, to name a few.
  • Historical Publications of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Since its inception in 1957, the United States Commission on Civil Rights has been at the forefront of efforts by the Federal Government and state governments to examine and resolve issues related to race, ethnicity, religion and, more recently, sexual orientation. A partnership of the United States Government Printing Office, the United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Thurgood Marshall Law Library.  Search by title, date, subject, SuDocs numbers, map.
  • I Am A Man : The Memphis Sanitation Worker's Strike. An online exhibition sponsored by the Wayne State University Reuther Library.
  • I Have a Dream, Address at March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (August 28, 1963).  In his iconic speech at the Lincoln Memorial for the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, King urged America to "make real the promises of democracy." King synthesized portions of his earlier speeches to capture both the necessity for change and the potential for hope in American society.
  • John Franklin Hope: Imprint of an American Scholar. John Hope Franklin was one of the most well-known and influential scholars of his era. Over the Course of his nearly 70 years as a historian, Franklin molded hundreds, if not thousands, of students to raise scholastic standards within his field and broke countless professional barriers along the way. Franklin was also the definition of a public intellectual, continuously lending his scholarship and influence to causes beyond the walls of academia. This exhibition explores his indelible imprint on the classroom, the institution, his public and private relationships, and his life's work of utilizing history and knowledge to cultivate a better human society.
  • Malcolm X Online. Contains biography, primary documents, quotations, speeches, multimedia, etc.
  • The March on Milwaukee Civil Rights History Project : This digital collection presents primary sources from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries and the Wisconsin Historical Society that provide a window onto Milwaukee’s civil rights history. During the 1960s, community members waged protests, boycotts, and legislative battles against segregation and discriminatory practices in schools, housing, and social clubs. The efforts of these activists and their opponents are vividly documented in the primary sources found here, including photographs, unedited news film footage, text documents, and oral history interviews.
  • The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“The King Center”) : The archive features thousands of never-seen-before letters, transcripts and documents from King and other key figures in the civil rights movement -- all posted online for public perusal.
  • Mississippi Freedom Summer Digital Collection. Freedom Summer, or the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project, was a key part of the
  • Ocupy Archive. Documenting and saving the digital evidence and stories from worldwide Occupy protests that began in September 2011.
  • Rosa Parks Papers Collection at Library of Congress.  The collection, which contains approximately 7,500 manuscripts and 2,500 photographs, is on loan to the Library for 10 years from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The Library received the materials in late 2014, formally opened them to researchers in the Library’s reading rooms in February 2015 and now has digitized them for optimal access by the public. Parks became an iconic figure in history on Dec. 1, 1955, when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama.  Her arrest sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a seminal event in the Civil Rights Movement.  Parks died at age 92 in 2005.
  • SNCC Digital Gateway. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was the only national civil rights organization founded by young people.
  • Television News of the Civil Rights Era, 1950-1970. Contains films from the nightly news from two local television stations in Virginia--WDBJ (CBS) Roanoke and WSLS (NBC) Roanoke. This rare footage includes full speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, the governors of the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as original footage of school desegregation, public meetings, local debates over civil rights matters, and interviews with citizens. Courtesy of the University of Virginia, Virginia Center for Digital History.
  • Harry S. Truman and Civil Rights. This collection focuses on President Harry S. Truman's decisions on civil rights. The collection includes 72 documents totaling 342 pages covering the years 1948 through 1953. Supporting materials include photographs, oral history transcripts, a subject guide to archival materials and other links. Includes President Truman's decision to desegregate the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Pinback Buttons (Labadie Collection, University of Michigan). This collection shows images of political buttons addressing issues of anarchism, civil liberties (with an emphases on racial minorities), socialism, communism, colonialism and imperialism, American labor history through the 1930s, the IWW, the Spanish Civil War, sexual freedom, women's liberation, gay liberation, the underground press, and student protest.
  • Roz Payne Sixties Archive. Collection of "political artifacts from the 1960s-era, collected and saved over the years by activist, photographer and filmmaker, Roz Payne." Collections include underground press, small press publications, leaflets/flyers/broadsides/article reprints, posters/graphic design, buttons, photographs, objects, and newsreel films.
  • Sixties Project: Primary Document Archive. Includes documents from Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Blank Panther Party, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and several similar groups.
  • The Watsons Go To Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis.   Christopher Paul Curtis’s historical novel The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, shows how a young boy, Kenny, is traumatized after witnessing the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Courtesy of Lakisha Odlum and the Digital Public Library of America.
  • W. E. B. Dubois Collection from Teaching American History.
  • We Raise Our Voices. Small collection of items documenting Boston's African American, Latino, feminist, and LGBT community histories.
  • Who Speaks for the Negro? In 1965, Robert Penn Warren wrote a book, now out of print, entitled Who Speaks for the Negro? To research this publication, he traveled the country and spoke with a variety of people who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement. He spoke with nationally-known figures as well as people working in the trenches of the Movement. The volume contains many of the transcripts from these conversations. The Who Speaks for the Negro? Archive contains digitized versions of the original reel-to-reel recordings, as well as copies of the correspondence, transcripts, and other printed materials related to his research for the provocatively-titled book.​

School Desegregation

  • 1964 Freedom Summer Project.  Freedom Summer was an effort by civil rights activists to integrate Mississippi's segregated political system. Northern volunteers and black Mississippians risked their lives to overturn racist institutions.  The Wisconsin Historical Society has one of the richest collections of Civil Rights movement records in the nation, which includes more than 100 manuscript collections documenting the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of 1964....More than 25,000 pages from the Freedom Summer manuscripts -- enough to fill several file cabinets -- are available online. In them you will find official records of organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and  Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); the personal papers of movement leaders and activists such as Amzie Moore, Mary King and Howard Zinn, letters and diaries of northern college students who went South to volunteer for the summer; newsletters produced in Freedom Schools; racist propaganda, newspaper clippings, pamphlets and brochures, magazine articles, telephone call logs, candid snapshots, internal memos, press releases and much more. The digital collection will continue to grow as more manuscripts are added in coming months....We encourage students, teachers, writers, historians, and other researchers to use these materials in any 2014 programs marking the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Freedom Summer Project. Feel free to copy them for classroom activities, term papers, displays or exhibits, dramatic presentations, and other non-profit educational purposes.
  • Freedom Now : An Archival Project of Tougaloo College and Brown University.  This database currently includes about 200 documents in two categories. Student researchers found documents relating to the Mississippi Freedom Movement in the Tougaloo College Archives, and to the Brown-Tougaloo Cooperative Exchange in the Brown University Archives.
  • Freedom Summer. From the SNCC Digital Gateway.
  • Mississippi Freedom Summer Digital Collection. Freedom Summer, or the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project, was a key part of the civil rights movement in 1964 when volunteers attempted to register as many African-American voters as possible in Mississippi, where they had been almost totally excluded. Available from the Miami University of Ohio Libraries, this digital collection contains letters and diaries of students and civil rights leaders as well as photographs, advertising tradecards, newspapers, manuscripts, and videos pertaining to Freedom Summer.
  • Mississippi Freedom Summer Digital Project.
  • Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive. Mississippi was a focal point in the struggle for civil rights in America, and Hattiesburg, home of The University of Southern Mississippi, had the largest and most successful Freedom Summer project in 1964. The civil rights materials collected at the University document a local history with truly national significance....The Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive includes a selection of digitized photographs, letters, diaries, and other documents. Oral history transcripts are also available, as well as finding aids for manuscript collections.