The SCLC National Conventions: A Photographic Retrospective

By Ryan Taylor, Project Archivist, MARBL and Michael R. Hall, Graduate Processing Assistant, 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.

The photographs of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference are a rich and comprehensive look into the history of the civil rights struggle in America and a view into one of the movement’s most influential organizations. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the photographs documenting the SCLC’s National Conventions, which span over forty years and capture the spirit of those working within SCLC and the organization’s allies. Below are some selected images which highlight the sweeping breadth of the SCLC National Convention photographs.

Above left: Television producer Fred Sullivan receives award for his work in producing the TV movie “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” at the 17th National Convention, 1974. Above right: Joseph Lowery, Fred Taylor, Rosa Parks, and Walter E. Fauntroy unveil the Rosa Parks Award at the 23rd National Convention, 1980. Click to view full size images.
Above left: Evelyn Lowery, Andrew Young, and Walter Fauntroy present Joseph Lowery with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award at the 23rd National Convention, 1980. Above right: Ralph David Abernathy addresses the 28th National Convention, 1985. Click to view full size images.
Above left: Joseph Lowery presents Coretta Scott King with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award at the 34th National Convention, 1991. Above right: Comedian and activist Dick Gregory participates in a panel discussion at the 36th National Convention, 1993. Click to view full size images.
Above left: Comedian and activist Dick Gregory poses with Joseph Lowery at the 38th National Convention, 1995. Above right: Joining hands during the opening night ceremonies of the 39th National Convention, 1996. Click to view full size images.
Above left: Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis at the 40th National Convention, 1997. Above right: Martin Luther King, III and others at the 45th National Convention, 2002. 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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