The Center for Democratic Renewal

By Cheryl Oestreicher, Project Archivist, Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History

“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 at Auburn Avenue Research Library, aarl [dot] archives [at] fultoncountyga [dot] gov

Because I finished the Andrew Young Papers and NAACP Atlanta Branch Records (finding aid forthcoming) with time to spare, CLIR approved adding another collection to our project. The collection chosen was the Center for Democratic Renewal Records (CDR).

Above left:  First issue of the “National Anti-Klan Network Newsletter,” 1980.  Above right:  First issue of “The Monitor,” 1986.  Click to view full size images.

Founded by C.T. Vivian in 1979, the organization was originally called the National Anti-Klan Network (NAKN). NAKN served as a resource on the Ku Klux Klan for Federal and police agencies, journalists, and religious, labor, and educational groups. In 1985, Vivian and the Board of Directors approved changing the name to the Center for Democratic Renewal, broadening its mission to include monitoring the radical and far right.

Above left:  Center for Democratic Renewal fact sheet, circa 1990s.  Above right:  Program, 25th Anniversary Celebration of CDR.  Click to view full size images.

The CDR was a “multi-racial organization that advances the vision of a democratic, diverse and just society free of racism and bigotry.” To accomplish this, they monitored, researched, and reported on hate-crime activity and threats to democracy. Acting as a clearinghouse of information, they collected articles, newsletters, newspapers, publications, and ephemera from far right, radical right, white supremacist, and Klan organizations. The CDR provided information to journalists, news organizations, students, researchers, other organizations, and any interested parties. Utilizing their research, they published newsletters and reports about hate crime activity, the Ku Klux Klan, burned churches, far right Christian groups, militias, skinheads, and other people and groups. They also partnered with other organizations to conduct seminars and conferences to combat hate-crime activity and promote democracy.

Above left:  Flier, Christian Guard of Chatooga County, 1991.  Above right:  “The Klansman,” 1983.  Click to view full size images.

The Center for Democratic Renewal Records contain correspondence, photographs, reports, publications, books, newspaper and magazine articles, newsletters, and ephemera.

One Reply to “The Center for Democratic Renewal”

  1. Am I remembering correctly that the Center published a manual entitled “When Hate Groups Come to Town”? It was an excellent resource. My church (Grace United Methodist Church) and a citizens’ group in Harrisburg PA (The Community Responders Network) are looking for it! Many thanks. -Ann Van Dyke 717/982-1050

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