Civil Rights History Project
On May 12, 2009, the U. S. Congress authorized a national initiative by passing The Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-19). The law directed the Library of Congress (LOC) and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) to conduct a national survey of existing oral history collections with relevance to the Civil Rights movement to obtain justice, freedom and equality for African Americans and to record and make widely accessible new interviews with people who participated in the struggle.
The activists interviewed for this project belong to a wide range of occupations, including lawyers, judges, doctors, farmers, journalists, professors, and musicians, among others. The video recordings of their recollections cover a wide range of topics within the freedom struggle, such as the influence of the labor movement, nonviolence and self-defense, religious faith, music, and the experiences of young activists. Actions and events discussed in the interviews include the Freedom Rides (1961), the Albany Movement (1961), the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963), the Selma to Montgomery Rights March (1965), the Orangeburg Massacre (1968), the Poor People’s Campaign (1968), sit-ins, and voter registration drives in the South. The murder of fourteen year old Emmett Till in 1955, a horrific event that galvanized many young people into joining the freedom movement, looms large in the memories of many movement veterans.