By Courtney Chartier, Assistant Head, Archives Research Center, Atlanta University Center
“Working for Freedom: Documenting Civil Rights Organizations” is a collaborative project between Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, The Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, and The Robert W. Woodruff Library of Atlanta University Center to uncover and make available previously hidden collections documenting the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta and New Orleans. The project is administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Each organization regularly contributes blog posts about their progress.
For more information about the collection described in this post, please contact the Archives Research Center at Atlanta University Center, archives [at] auctr [dot] edu
The Voter Education Project (VEP) served primarily as a funding source for voter registration and education programs around the South. VEP collected financial and administrative reports from the projects that they funded, but they also collected flyers, posters and other printed ephemera produced by those organizations, or produced for elections in those areas.
Click on the images to enlarge.
These images are both from Alabama, one for an organization supported by VEP, and one for specific candidates. As a government funded organization, VEP could not fund political campaigns, but followed the elections of black candidates.
VEP also collected material on political candidates explicitly opposed to voting rights for African-Americans, including the notorious race-baiter Alabama Governor George Wallace. Wallace was a polarizing figure in Southern politics of the time, and the poster is one example of the backlash to African American voter registration efforts in the South. VEP could respond to these campaigns by reminding voters what was at stake with each election.
The thumbnail for the Wallace poster links to the unedited, original image which contains strong, potentially offensive language. For more information on Wallace and the role he played in southern politics, including his eventual renunciation of segregation and racism, please visit his Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_C._Wallace).
VEP staff and supporters promoted voting rights efforts at events all over the South.
Over time, as funding became scarce, VEP turned to running specific voter education campaigns from their offices in Atlanta.