Communicating the Civil Rights Movement

By Sarah Quigley, Project Archivist, MARBL

“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.

Throughout its long history, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference used periodicals as a method of communicating with staff, affiliates, members and the general public.  By publishing newsletters, magazines and journals, SCLC was able to share information about itself and its activities.  Topics ranged from general updates, to news from efforts such as the Poor People's Campaign, to analysis of the ongoing Civil Rights Movement. 

Below are images of a few examples, showing the diversity of tone and format.  Within these publications, researchers will find not only facts, but insight into how the Civil Rights Movement was communicated to multiple audiences from the 1950s into the new millennium. 

Above left:  The Crusader, February 1959.  Intended to be a bi-monthly publication “for the information and inspiration of our affiliates, supporters, and friends…”  Above right:  The SCLC Newsletter, October-November 1965.  Click to view full size images.
Above left:  North & South, the SCLC staff newsletter, October 1967.  In addition to updates and news, North & South also featured staff member profiles.  Above right:  True Unity News, June 1968, the newsletter of Resurrection City.  Click to view full size images.
Above left:  The Black Voice of Alabama, June 1969.  This issue describes student protests at Alabama State College.  Above right:  Soul Force, December 1970.  Published throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, Soul Force was the official journal of SCLC.  Click to view full size images.
Above left:  Drum Major, Winter 1971.  Published in the early 1970s, Drum Major featured longer, more analytical articles, written by major figures of the Civil Rights Movement.  Above right:  SCLC Magazine, May/June/July 1992.  First published in the early 1970s by SCLC/West, the Magazine quickly became the offical publication of the organization, continuing through the 2000s.  Click to view full size images.

NOTE:  The Southern Christian Leadership records currently are closed for processing.  They are expected to open Spring 2012.  Please contact the archivist for more information.

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