Unearthing the “V” in the A/V Material of the SCLC Collection

by 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.

In two previous dispatches from the audiovisual material of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) records, I have focused on “New Insights Into the Early Political and Philosophical Thought of Jesse L. Jackson” and “Civil Rights Activism and the Crisis in Health Care.”  Both blog entries revealed the potential for new research offered by the substantial amount of audio source material in the SCLC collection.  In this third and final dispatch, I would like to discuss a few gems contained in the video sources in the collection.

Above:  Flier, Gun Buyback Program, 1997 (Click to enlarge.)

Though the quantity of video sources in the SCLC collection pales a bit in comparison to the impressive amount of audio material, the quality of video sources certainly warrants ample attention by researchers, educators and others interested in this historic collection.  Video sources document SCLC's participation in a host of community, social and political activities.  Such activities include the annual National Convention, Poor People's Crusade of the late 1980s, the Black Leadership Forum, Gun Buy Back Program, King Fest, local chapter events and a National Conference on AIDS held in 1987.

Above:  Flier for a hearing on poverty, part of the Poor People's Crusade, 1987 (Click to enlarge.)

Of particular interest are the videos of the National Convention which record the many events associated with this annual meeting of the SCLC.  Activities researchers and educators can expect to find documented include the annual banquet, board luncheons, press conferences, panel discussions and forums, as well as promotional spots and the annual Presidential address.  Finally, in addition to the wealth of material documenting the National Convention, visitors to the collection will be happy to discover a video recording of the inauguration of SCLC's fourth President Martin Luther King, III in the summer of 1998.  Though the video material of the SCLC collection is modest, a researcher or educator adventurous enough to explore this area will certainly be rewarded for his or her efforts.

Above:  National Convention souvenir journal, 1996 (Click to enlarge.)

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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